This past Thanksgiving, I was taken aback when a cousin of mine asked me how many friends I had on Facebook.
It’s not personal information; anyone can log in and check my friend list. But there, with no computer in front of me, I genuinely had no idea how many friends I had, and incorrectly guessed around 500.
One day in 2006, I remember logging into my then high school Facebook account and finding three new friend requests. That was the day Facebook finally connected the high school and college accounts, and all three requests were from college friends. Having time to spare, I sat down and clicked through Facebook adding countless old friends whose college’ profiles were originally blocked from my exclusively high school account. At some point, Facebook told me I had ‘friended’ too many people, and blocked me from friending any more for a 24-hour period.
This is pretty pathetic on my end, but my personal attraction to Facebook came then, when I realized how Facebook would keep me in touch with so many old friends and acquaintances, whom I would undoubtedly lose touch with without the assistance of this online social network.
Three years and over 700 friends later, I can safely say I know, or have known, all 700 of my friends at some point in time. If you’re someone whose path I will never cross in life, don’t friend me; I won’t accept.
The definition of a Facebook ‘friend’ is obviously very different than that of a regular friend. What defines an actual friend? Some call anyone they’ve ever met a friend. Some define their friends as the people they keep in regular contact with. I, for example, do not have 700 real friends.
The time has probably come for me to unfortunately eliminate some of these Facebook friends. This doesn’t mean you; anyone who is in my Fairfield network is pretty much untouchable because living on campus is forced interaction. Besides, I’d like to be better friends with you!
On the contrary, I don’t think I still need to be friends with that creepy guy who had a crush on me in eighth grade. In fact, I think I’d prefer to not give him access to see my profile and keep up with my life.
A couple of months ago, a girl who obviously knew me stopped me in a store. I barely recognized her, much less knew her name. It was one of those awkward encounters where the person knows all about you, and you struggle to remember how you even know the person without being rude. It turned out, she and I went to elementary school together.
We managed to have a nice 20-minute conversation catching up and discussing old classmates, all the while I had no clue what her name was, but she knew all about me because she had kept up with my Facebook profile.
I really don’t have the time to Facebook stalk 700 people, and at this point, I don’t think I care to anymore. It would be rude to unfriend that girl after that experience, but she, and my other Facebook friends from elementary school, are essentially strangers to me. I’m a fairly private person, and I’d rather not give so many strangers access to my private life, especially when they don’t try to keep up a real friendship with me.
When I finally got back to my cousin with the exact number of friends I had, he was a little surprised. He has 209 friends.