i am grateful to facebook and to mark zuckerberg, its founder, because i believe facebook changed my life. last year i made a resolution to meet every one of my then 325 facebook friends.
over the course of the four years between uploading a profile picture and making a resolution to meet my friends, i have reconnected with friends i went to college and high school with, friends i have done business with, friends who are parents of friends of my two sons, friends who are friends i see every day, friends i have met only once or twice, and even friends i have never met but only connected with on facebook itself. i’m addicted to facebook scrabble but avoid mafia wars, farmville and other games i think of as time suckers.
i’m grateful to mr. zuckerberg, to facebook, and to the facebook friends who have supported me in this project. just being willing to see me is a gift. . . .
but i am continuing the project, focusing most on people who are like me–facebook friends who are anxious. i have panic attacks and sometimes spend weeks holed up in my house as if it were a bunker under siege. that’s sometimes called agoraphobia. some of my facebook friends have panic disorder, fibromyalgia, agoraphobia, addiction issues, and post traumatic stress disorder. facebook allows them to interact with friends and family but sometimes it becomes something that substitutes for real interaction. . . . i think that might have been my problem.
facebook has strange, amorphous, ever changing rules on privacy, appearance, and use. recently, my account was shut down because–according to facebook–i was making too many friendship requests to people i don’t know. i found that odd because i haven’t been making friendship requests at all.
yesterday, i met facebook friend #303 and the mystery of why facebook thought i was making friendship requests to people i don’t know was solved. kenny sommer is a musician, poet, writer, agent and renaissance man. he toured with some bands in the nineties but is now sticking close to home, living with his parents in highland park. when i met him for lunch on this leap day, he had just watched a history channel documentary on quantum mechanics, another of his many interests. he has a few thousand facebook friends but is considering leaving facebook in order to simplify his life. and then it hit me: in order to be supportive of my project, kenny had been sending me “suggestions” of friends. i didn’t know that suggestions meant that if i clicked on, say, roger ebert the movie critic’s picture, i wasn’t actually confirming a friendship request (we HAD once met at a party and maybe roger remembered me)–oh, no, i was actually asking roger to be my friend based on kenny’s suggestion. and roger–and apparently others too–were responding that they had no idea who the hell i am.
uh, oh, i guess i had been making friendship requests to people i don’t really know. . .
it was a delightful afternoon with kenny and as he toddled off to his next adventure, i considered whether i would call mr. zuckerberg. . . .