A male friend of mine said his worst middle school memory is when he called a girl to ask her out and her mom grabbed the phone and said to stop calling her.
That's what happened to me on Facebook this week. I swear I was trying to friend real live people I know -- people I met at Occupy Wall Street and in New York at my comedy show who don't have any friends in common with me on Facebook but who I had actual human exchanges with that involved the use of mouths, vocal chords, brain synapses, and shared political camaraderie, a borrowing of pens, signs, witticisms, hand warmers, and probably a sharing of beers though I don't remember due to the sheer enthusiasm of being present with real live people! But Facebook deemed me a stalker and cut me off from friending anyone for seven days. And once you're on that community watch list, you're flagged for life. It's the NSA of relationships -- the crotch-frisking TSA who is thrilled to have finally caught someone doing something even if it's just sneaking Chapstick through security. The algorithm of supposed stalkers has led to my being virtually alone (pun intended).
And more to the point, why is it only okay to friend your friend's friends?!?! Is this 7th grade?!?!
"Why are you talking to them?" the popular girl demands.
"Um, cuz they were nice?" I sheepishly answer. I flip my hair, just to look innocent and fit in. Then I reluctantly ignore the new friend, suddenly aware that my standing with the popular girls is in jeopardy.
Seven days. I thought that was bad. But today when my seven days were up, like the curious or perhaps more accurately masochistic person that I am, I decided to experiment and test my precarious situation. I friended people who were - ready for this? -- suggested to me as people I might want to friend by Facebook! And like a recovered crack addict who leaves jail only to celebrate freedom that night with, why not?, a little crack, I just couldn't help it. I friended them. The result? Another 14 days back in the half-way house. Agh! Is this what my adult life has come to? Is Facebook really in a position to take away my car keys and TV privileges? This is like the best Firm Parenting Class for teens ever. Facebook does not get tired or annoyed and cave in, and there's no way for me to contest it. What's an anti-authority political satirist to do?
When I Googled "Facebook blocked me from friending people they suggested" I got three million results. And isn't that really the beauty of Facebook? To know you're not alone? Ah... I feel better already. But if only I had any real skills, I could start a new social networking site for these millions of potential friends! Like the Island of Misfit Toys: We would be rejected but we'd be together. Which is all I wanted in the first place!
Facebook is now standing in the way of my making friends in the real world because we agreed to friend each other on Facebook. All those great people I was looking forward to getting to know, seeing what their work is, sharing links with, they are dead to me since I am dead to Facebook. So. Feel free to friend me. I can confirm your friendship. I just cannot initiate the offering of the candy to you small innocent children from my unmarked van... Just be careful you don't friend my friends... until I'm your friend. And even then...
Or, um, call me?
Katie Goodman is a musical comic who's show, "I Didn't F*ck It Up," is running in New York City. www.katiegoodman.com