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Daniel Ruth

Dan Ruth is ignoring your Facebook request

For reasons not entirely clear to me, and getting cloudier by the moment, the Bombshell of the Balkans decided it was time for me to join the 21st century and create my own personal whiz-bang Facebook page.

"It will help you with social networking," she explained.

Who knew I needed help? The hounds seem to like me just fine.

But since the Sunflower of Sparta is indeed a wise Greco woman, I went along with her suggestion. And thus, I have a Facebook page. But just between us friends, I still have no idea why, or what I'm supposed to do with it, or for that matter just who are all these people who suddenly want to be my pal, my buddy, my mate.

I never realized I was such a hot social commodity.

After all, outside my immediate family, my circle of close friends has always been extremely small — and one of them has been dead for at least 10 years.

So there I was on Facebook. And there I am, still somewhat bumfuddled about the whole thing.

What I completely never anticipated was that within a day or so of creating my page, requests started flooding in from people who wanted to be my "friend." Even an executive from the former sandwich board where I used to work and who was complicit in my being laid off wanted to be my "friend."

I took a pass on that one.

To be sure, many of the friend requests were mostly from former co-workers and the like.

But at the same time, many of the friend entreaties were not only from people I never heard of, but from people I would never want to hear from even if I knew them in the first place. Really now, if you were walking down the street, minding your own business and some total stranger came up to you and said, "Hey I want to be your friend," how fast do you think you would run away?

I ran away — click, ignore.

The theory, I think, behind the whole Facebook phenomenon is that this is supposed to be a sort of interactive community for the exchange of ideas and conversation, a sort of cyber Algonquin Round Table.

But more often than not, the postings are precious little more than the idle diner chatter in Pulp Fiction — without the blood spatters.

With all due respect to all my newfound friends, do I really need to know that Betty Boop just ate a yummy croissant? Do I need to know Skippy just got out of the shower? Do I need to know Buzz is going to a concert tonight? Do I need to know Gracie has a cold sore?

Not only do I not need to know about all the banalities of my "friends' '' lives, I don't care.

Recently, the Philodendron of the Parthenon was elated to become friends with Garrison Keillor, who often writes her that he is presently engaged in staring out his window looking at a bird while reading Remembrances of Things Past in Norwegian and contemplating the meaning of life. Exciting stuff.

It is probably a nice thing to count Garrison Keillor among one's friends, although I rather doubt that if she flew to Minneapolis he would pick her up at the airport. Nor has Keillor, on his occasional trips to Tampa, ever asked us to join him for dinner. But I thought he was a friend!

This new — well, at least it is new to me — world of cyber relationships has certainly redefined what it means to think of someone as a close, intimate friend. Does revealing what one had for breakfast, or one's mind-numbing schedule for the day, or one's feelings about American Idol constitute a bonding experience?

Or maybe this simply proves we all lead lives of quiet stultification. But didn't we already know that?

Since my Facebook page was created about a week ago, I've contributed very, very few postings. The fact that I just gave the dogs some water seems to me to be on a need-to-know basis.

Admittedly, I did weigh in on a "friend's" observation that he thought the Coen brothers' dreadful, hideous Burn After Reading was a great movie. I weighed in that he was an idiot. Isn't that what friends are for?

It could well turn out that I may become the first recluse on Facebook.

In the meantime my dear, wonderful, loyal friends, I have to go put a load of laundry in the washer, brush my teeth, match some socks, take out the recycling …

Dan Ruth is ignoring your Facebook request 07/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 16, 2009 6:32pm]
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