By Todd Lancaster
So I recently got a Facebook friend request from someone I see on a regular basis.
The truth is, this is a person who doesn’t annoy me, is someone I would say hello to in the grocery store, and as a general rule I wouldn’t be too upset if they had a small lottery success. So the question is, why ruin it with Facebook?
I have been on Facebook for about 14 years, meaning it has been so long, Aaron Sorkin almost had to write dialogue for me in his “Social Network” movie.
However, I believe that we have come full circle with this grand experiment of connecting everyone on the planet, and giving almost a billion people a chance to know exactly what you are eating at any particular time.
But just like the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly and then re-emerges as a ravenous, carnivorous, fire-breathing 200-foot moth, I would say Facebook has moved on from its initial purpose, which was to help Mark Zuckerberg make a booty call.
I remember my first Facebook friend; she was a sorority sister of my wife’s. We spent many a fascinating minute going over the four times we had actually met, but darn it, I had planted a flag on the shores of Facebookland and I was ready to explore at that was The Facebook.
From there I began to reconnect with old acquaintances, a chance to share stories and photos, but most importantly, just checking to see if they were fatter than you. At that point, Facebook was still operating under the normal rules of engagement — people were willing to be civil and decent. Those were the salad years, where you could buy the world a cyber Coke and everyone had the chance to be connected.
And then it all changed.
People began to accept anyone and everyone as “Friends.” Those people whose names you may barely have known, whose kids may have played Little League with your kids, were now co-equal’s and their horrible options and beliefs appeared RIGHT NEXT TO YOURS in the comment section.
There were cliques where people would try to get cool people to friend them and a certain amount of pride was garnered by having “Joey” from “Punky Brewster” as a trusted internet confidante. Once again, it was a chance to sit at the cool binary-code lunch table. There was a tremendous amount of stalking of old girlfriends, coveting the bass boat of the kid who sat next to you in algebra, but most importantly we figured out that some people had the exact same beliefs, and they had information to share with you (cue the ominous music in a minor key).
However, the deeper we dove into Facebook, the more we began to see that NOT EVERTHING ON THE FACEBOOK WAS TRUE. People we knew, people we loved, were putting out things that just didn’t make any sense, and it was our moral, ethical and patriotic duty to guide them back to truth, with counterpoints IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
How did that work out for you? Of the five groomsmen from my wedding, I now speak to just two of them (the two with similar political beliefs to me). It was at that point I began to weed the Facebook garden.
People forget Facebook should be “Entertainbook” and, like every other form of entertainment, it should bring pleasure, not civil war. I don’t think humans were designed to know every thought and belief of every person we come in contact with. In other words, I don’t want to hate every person I see at Walmart because of their position on stem cell research. So I probably won’t “Friend” my friend, I’ll just talk to him at ballgames and BBQs or he can call me if he needs something. I just wish there was an app for that.