Why I Will Not Be Your Facebook Friend

08/29/2017 08:34 am ET Updated Aug 29, 2017

I will not be your Facebook friend.

It’s not because I don’t like you.

It’s not because you haven’t asked.

It’s because I’m not big on SnapFace or InstaChat or any of the other online thingies.

I admit I’m swimming against the tide here.

A lot of other people who enjoy this newsletter also enjoy keeping up with friends, classmates and acquaintances on Facebook.

I’m not telling you not to do it.

I’m just telling you why I don’t do it.

About 10 years ago, I had a publicist, and she thought I was crazy not to be on Facebook.

So I signed up.

Within a few hours, I had two posts on my wall or feed or bedpost or whatever.

One was from a guy with whom I had been in a drunken blackout 30 years earlier.

He wanted to know how I’ve been.

The other was from a former accountant who claimed that I still owed him $3,000.

I’m not making this stuff up.

So I called my publicist and told her to get me off of Facebook.

That’s not the only reason I don’t do social media.

It’s also a time suck, and I’m busy.

People I know and respect report they spend 45 minutes or even an hour a day or more noodling around Facebook.

What they’re looking at, I have no idea.

If they like it, fine. 

Just include me out.

I also can’t abide the debasing of the concept of “friend.”

Now, I’m not opposed to people connecting with each other.

It’s just that anything trivializing the concept of friendship irritates me.

If you’re really my friend, you call me once in a while, to see how I’m doing.

You don’t wait 30 years.

Online, you can “friend” someone instantly.

In the real world, developing a true friendship takes time.

If we’re business associates, or weak-tie contacts, then let’s have the courage to admit as much, instead of pretending we’re pals.

With my real-life friends, when one of us has a problem, the other shows up.

That’s what friends are for.

What are Facebook friends for?

No idea.

Now you could say, Michael, you’re one to talk, sending out these email blasts twice a week. That’s social media, sort of.

But let’s face it.

This is marketing.

I’m hoping that you read these things and eventually say, “He thinks and writes well. I think I’ll hire his company to write my book.”

I don’t post about my breakfast, or my vacation, or re-hashtag cat videos.

I also hear that unrelenting use of social media by the young causes depression and delays the development of empathy.

And these are the individuals who, one day, will be rationing our healthcare.

Now, I’m not averse to making new friends.

I disagree with the line attributed to Mark Twain to the effect that, “I don’t need a new friend until an old friend dies.”

I like my friends, and they like me.

Yet we don’t FaceGram each other pictures of desserts or, I don’t know, drinking craft beers around bonfires at the beach.

Frankly, I don’t know where most of my friends went on vacation, and I’m afraid I don’t care.  

I do care about their careers, and their relationships, and their kids, and their health.

But not about ephemera that, today, is given way too much importance.

I’m just concerned that depth in human relationships is becoming a lost art.

People don’t even take the time to listen to each other’s voicemail.

In short, I’ll be your friend.

But just not on Facebook.

I hope that’s okay.  

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