Lately, I’ve been trying something new: not friend-requesting people on Facebook soon after I meet them. I’ve been doing this especially with people I will be seeing on a regular basis, like coworkers, roommates, new friends, and men I want to date.
I might look up the person’s profile, maybe because I’m curious about how much time they spend online or which photo they choose to use as their main profile picture. But I will refrain from adding them. And lately, my new acquaintances haven’t been adding me either.
But we’ve talked about Facebook.
Me: How was work today?
Friend: Really slow. I spent a lot of time refreshing Facebook.
Me: Yeah, me too.
We’ve established that we have Facebook accounts, that we use it regularly, even obsessively. But no friend requests fill my inbox.
Lately, I have found the only reason I add anyone as a friend is because I meet someone I know I probably won’t see again but found him or her to be rather interesting a.k.a. I want to practice voyeurism.
I don’t want to ruin the magic of in-person interaction, the way I kind of did in college, when Facebook was first released and became popular.
More than ever, I treasure real conversations because they don’t seem to happen as often as I would like them to happen. I don’t mean the “Hi, how are you? It’s humid outside, isn’t it?” kind of conversations. I mean the in-your-face, gritty, tell-me-about-that-time-you-got-that-scar kind of conversations. The things that make us uncomfortable are so necessary, rare, and real.
In actuality, it is probably better to tweet at than kiss nine out of every ten people you meet. Internet sociality provides us with a legitimate freedom—we can now choose whether or not our body will figure into any given social interaction. Simply kissing more is not a recipe for greater, more authentic humanity. Rather, what is crucial is to remember, in the moments where the internet has replaced or eliminated touch, that an awe of contact, the very fear of contact that causes us to choose text in place of body, makes us human too.
Facebook is effective as a social networking tool because it gives us the distance we require from people we don’t necessarily want to “kiss”. But we love sharing, and we love hearing other people’s stories, imagining a constructed version of their lives.
The people that I see almost every day, the people that I both like and dislike – I want to interact with them fully and leave the Facebook stuff for the people I’d rather create as I see fit. Keeping a friendship and/or relationship off Facebook is sacred. If I’m friends with you in real life but never add you as a Facebook friend, consider this the ultimate compliment.
(Photo by andybee21)