As some of you may know, I am very careful about how I Twitter. I occupy my space, but don't do MySpace. And I am not particularly LinkedIn, although I did make the mistake of signing up for it once. Since then, I am importuned daily by people who want me to link to them. I have no desire to do so. I am a virtual hermit, even though my brick and mortar persona is quite amiable. And one day quite some time ago, I established a page for myself on Facebook. It was a moment of weakness, I admit. My perception, for the most part, is that Facebook is for three kinds of people, for whom it works very nicely:
1. People under the age of 18 who want to remain in their rooms and diddle around with each other until their parents are asleep, at which point they can sneak out and hook up;
2. People over the age of 50 who suddenly have the desire to see how the first person with whom they had sex is now looking, and whether they'd be interested in having a cup of coffee;
3. Vendors, merchants, authors, photographers, musicians, real estate brokers and other commercial entities who want to sell themselves to a fan base.
At some point or another, I am told I should probably join the ranks of those in category 3, and that's fine with me, because that kind of Facebook page is a lot less personal, not really about who you are but about what you're selling: your image, book, downloadable object, CD, Snuggie, whatever. I don't mind having fans, you know. It's friends who make me nervous. And "friends" are even worse, as far as I'm concerned.
This conviction was further borne out yesterday, when I received an inquiry from somebody who wanted to friend me. This isn't that common for me, since my Facebook page is an untended and barren garden most of the time, with no picture, no descriptive cuteness, no gravlax and toast points. Anyway, here comes this message out of the blue that Larry Garnett wants to friend me.
Okay, I will tell you about Larry Garnett. When I was 12, Larry Garnett had the locker next to me in Junior High School. Every morning he would thump my head into my locker and ask me, "Hey. You got a nickel?" And I'd say, "Yes, Larry." And he'd reply, "Let me hold it for you." At lunch, he would step in front of everybody else in line, particularly on the days we had veal cutlet, everybody's favorite. Anybody who questioned this move would get tripped. In short, Larry was a thug. Everybody lived in fear of him. The good news is that when the rest of us went to High School, he stayed behind in 8th Grade for a couple more years and we never saw him again.
Until yesterday. He's cleaned up quite a bit. Looks jaunty in a sports jacket and open collar. But it's Larry all right.
It just makes me wonder. What goes through people's minds when they think that people who they haven't seen in years and years might want to once again want to be in touch? Don't they remember what the original quality of their relationships was like? Do they think that time heals all? Or is it possible that the fictional nature of our online selves makes all personal history moot? Maybe so. There is a small voice chirping away inside me right now suggesting, very quietly, that it might be interesting to see just what kind of person Larry Garnett turned out to be. And whether it might be nice to have the chance to kick HIS ass for a change.