March 10, 2012
Friends of Friends
Friends come and go.
They enter our lives, usually vicariously, sometimes with a bang, and bring music and meaning to our days. Sometimes they move on, and sometimes I do.
Most occupy a nether region of abstraction, balanced on the perch of near-friendship, the friends I haven't met yet.
And some friends are better left unmet.
I'm reminded of the days when I used to take the subway to work. There were always people hanging around at the top of the escalator into trying to be my friend, many of which have found their place on these pages over the years. Once I was approached by some guy trying to educate me about Jews for Jesus. Jesus is OK and all, but I wouldn't want to have a beer with him. And I'm not Jewish. And I had no idea what the whole "Jews for Jesus" thing was about. Still don't, by the way. So I immediately wrote this guy off as somebody who would forever occupy my personal perch of potential-friendship. All he wanted was money anyway.
And you're not going to believe this. In an amazing coincidence I actually just had two guys knock on my door peddling the Watchtower! I don't think they expected me to open up because they no sooner knocked when they started pushing that Watchtower through my mail-slot. But, thinking it was the exterminator, I opened up. These guys were friendly enough, but not overly inspired in the pursuit of their duties. Handed me the goods and moved on without even asking for money, not that I was in a particularly giving mood anyway. Can't blame them. It's cold this morning. Either way, these guys are two very recent examples of people that have touched my life that I will soon forget. My personal Lethe of relationships, as it were.
Thanks to Facebook we have a whole new class of virtual friends. People from our past, most of which we only dimly remember from their real-time but are worthy of a low-maintenance cyber-acquintanship in our present. Some we knew when we accepted their online handshake, but we can't remember who, what, when, or why now.
As many of you know, Facebook is eager to create a perfect mesh of friendships - a web of connections infinitely dense, but somewhat lacking in intimacy. Who the hell am I to complain? I'm on Facebook. Have been for years. So I suppose I've bought-into this Ponzi scheme of pseudo-friendship.
Hence, Facebook has now created a whole new class of fiends. Friends that were never meant to meet.
Some poor slob in Seattle was the nexus for such a meeting. There are many mistakes that contributed to the connection. First, the guy has a Facebook page, which is not necessarily a mistake unless your a Jehovah's Witness. This edition of the Watchtower has a long rant about the evils of social networking. Second, he had two female Facebook friends, also not necessarily a mistake unless they have one thing in common. Third, he was married to both women. And therein lies the rub.
In their desire to connect us all, Facebook is happy to remind us of all the folks we haven't met and that we might like to meet. Like friends of friends. Very nice of them and all, but leave my other wife out of it, if you please.
The friend-in-the-middle, Alan O'Neill, is a corrections officer who is now on administrative leave and facing bigamy charges. He is out on bail today, on the prowl no doubt. According to Mark Lindquist, the county prosecutor, was philosophical about it. "About the only danger he would pose is marrying a third woman," he said, according to the Associated Press.
Which causes me to wonder about the other potentially awkward situations that Facebook can brew up for us. Imagine, if you will:
Just Don't Friend Me With Ron Paul - Despite my tendency to dwell on the left of the political spectrum, I do have a number of friends who choose to live elsewhere. And most of them are virtual. So what's to stop Mitt Romney or, worse yet, Rick Santorum, from trying to friend me with promises of lifelong scolding and petulance if I shrug him off? It's only a matter of time, and I suppose I shouldn't mind so much. After all, I even answer the door when the Watchtower boys come calling.