Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Imaginary friends

I have this minor addiction to reading advice columns. Like a lot of people, I probably read them because seeing the weird and/or sad situations people manage to get themselves into sometimes helps to put my own problems into perspective. Some of the problems people describe are sad, some are tragic, and some fell into the WTF? category. You know, problems that aren't really problems at all, but the letter writer is busy tying him or herself into emotional knots over the non-problem anyway.

Lately the classic "Not a problem but the letter writer thinks it is" letters all seem to involve Facebook. There appear to be a whole lot of people out there who signed up for Facebook but haven't figured out yet that it's not the real world. They don't seem to understand that you don't have to say Yes to every person who sends you a Friend request. You don't have to read every single item posted to your various acquaintances Timelines. You can ignore the gazillion app requests -- the inane games, the trivia quizzes, whatever. You can prioritize whose status updates you see and whose you don't. If you get a Friend request from a person you remember as being a total dick (or the female equivalent) back in high school, you're allowed to ignore it. If they're people where your initial reaction is that you wouldn't piss on them if they on fire, why on earth would you want to be Friends with them on Facebook?

But, going by the letters I see Amy Dickinson, Carolyn Hax, and other advice columnists responding to, there are astounding numbers of people out there who feel obligated to do stuff that no rational person should bother doing. Their reasoning? They don't want to seem rude. Or stuck up. Or maybe they think they've finally got a shot at sitting at the Internet equivalent of the cool kids' table in the junior high cafeteria. So they say Yes, and then they whine about the obnoxious stuff the "Friend" posts. It never seems to occur to them to do the obvious: pull the plug. If the obnoxious "Friend" is someone you haven't seen in 10 years and wouldn't have gone out of your way to talk to if he or she lived on the same block as you, why are you wasting your time getting annoyed about what they do on Facebook?


  1. I've never done Facefuck, never will.

  2. In my youth I read Ann Landers faithfully. Then she got divorced and I haven't read any advice columns since.

    I'm the obnoxious friend on Facebook. People ask me to friend them and if I know them, I usually do. Many of them are from the church I used to attend. So I annoy the heck out of them with slightly off colour humour, pro-abortion and pro GLBT anti Republican stuff. My sister can only survive with her head firmly up her ass and does not read anything that might intrude into her perfect little world (her husband is in or close to the Canadian 1%). She has unchecked me for everything and only sees stuff if I address it to her. I love it.


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.