Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing: Facebook Party!

I will occasionally post something on my FB page titled, “How Not To Use Facebook, #[insert made up number between 1 and 1000 here] In A Series”, and link to a news item where someone does something stupid with Facebook. Like this. I do this as a reminder that the things you put out there are out there, so pay attention. Facebook seems to loan itself to frequent bouts of stupidity, though I understand Twitter is not far behind. If I used Twitter, I would probably have a “How Not to Use Twitter” set of tweets, too, but I don’t, so I don’t.

I don’t get a huge amount of friend requests anymore, which is fine by me. Declining or ignoring friend requests makes me feel kind of bad, unless it’s someone I don’t actually know. I’ve gotten at least two of those. One was from a guy who at least went to my high school, though we literally never exchanged a single word; the other was a guy I honestly never met, had no idea who he was or why he’d want to be my friend. Turns out he was a friend of a friend, and either combed her list for more friends, or just clicked the ‘sure, why not?’ button when my name came up in the “People You Might Know” list. Anyway, one of those at least gave me the opening scene for PARALLEL LIVES, so it wasn’t a total loss (though it was later changed from a FB friend request to a phone call. I’m old school. Still, credit to Facebook for kickstarting the process).

Occasionally I’ll get a friend request from one of the kids’ friends. Those cause me particular angst. Do I want to be friends with that high school junior, that college freshman? Do they really want me to be friends with them? Have they really thought about the implications of granting some old geezer–a contemporary of their parents–access to their Facebook page? I’m up to about four of them now, and the glimpse into the life of the American teen is not as frightening as I thought. At least these kids are more sensible than ‘Drivin drunk’ dude, which makes me feel better. And some of them have an astonishing amount of ‘old geezers’ on their lists, including their parents. They speak in code, anyway, which is pretty much how I spoke when I was that age, so I don’t know half of what is going on.

They want me! They want me!

This weekend I found myself on the receiving end of an invitation to a graduation party from one of these kids. Remember when we were kids, and you would get a party invitation in the mail? Real mail, not e-mail, I mean. In an envelope. With a stamp. When you got one of those, there was no doubt about your invitation status. You were invited! You made the list! Granted, there could be politics involved, even in second grade (“But Mom, I don’t want to invite Jeffo!” “Shut up, Junior. His Dad is mayor. We’ve got to invite him!”), but it sure felt like you were wanted. Not so much with the Facebook mass invite. The doubting begins: “Does he really want me at that party? What would he think if I clicked ‘Yes’, just to mess with his head? What if I actually showed up? What if I didn’t, and found out I was supposed to? Gaah!” Of course, when I popped by the Facebook party page and saw that I, and 333 of his other close friends, had been invited, I suspected a mistake. Sure enough, a few hours later, the event was cancelled. I’m waiting for my new invite, but I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a long time.

11 Responses

  1. Don't have a Facebook account, so I'm not sure how the friending thing works, but it would be awkward to get requests from people I hadn't talked to since high school. Or my son's friends. Yeah, weird.

  2. You're on FB and you didn't tell me?!!! May I friend you? I hardly ever friend anymore. Most cone to me via other friends or because they read & liked my book. I have 2 profiles, one personal, which I'm always on, and one professional, which I'm rarely on but has way more friends. I'm constant friended on that one & get inundated with love struck middle eastern men. Go figure!

  3. In some cases, I haven't minded (the old HS people). Some of them are the people you realize you liked back then, even if you were never great friends. It's kind of fun to connect with them in some sort of way after all this time. As for the kids' friends, it was strange the first time it happened, and I had to think long and hard about it. But I like these kids, so I figured, "Why not?" Turns out I'm not the only parent on their lists, so I feel better.

  4. Oh, I suspect the event was rescheduled, just with a pared down invite list. Next time I see him, I'll be sure to give him a hard time about being left off the list, just for fun.

  5. Oh, too funny. Did you hear about that girl in England a few days ago that posted an open party at her parents house–but didn't intent it to be open? Something like 1500 people showed up and they had to call the police.

  6. I have such mixed feelings about Facebook, for many of the reasons you wrote about. And because of the things that happen as a result of posts. I find Twitter to be more fun. And now Pinterest is all the promotional rage, in addition to a few other social networking sites. It can be a bit overwhelming.

  7. Hah, no, I hadn't, but I remember something similar a couple of years ago in Florida, I think. That might have been what inspired my 'How Not To Use Facebook' Facebook posts, in fact!

  8. When I look at some of the comments I make on FB, I think I might be better suited to Twitter. But that and Pinterest are so foreign to me I haven't delved into either of them yet.

  9. You are so funny! Yeah, everything is done by FB now. It's a bit disconcerting. But it does save on stamps. My younger sister (she's 18) is FB friends with her much older siblings and her parents but she frequently blocks what we can see. I think that takes care of the whole do-I-want-to-be-friends-with-an-old-geezer thing. I like Facebook when used judiciously. But it is incredibly strange how it has taken over our lives.

  10. My sixty-something-year-old parents love Facebook. I've been on it since 2005–back when you needed a college e-mail address to join–and I can honestly say they use it with greater enthusiasm than I ever did. I love it.

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