On People I May Know
By Devin Bambrick
We’ve been together for four years now, and we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs. I’ve deactivated. I’ve protested. I bewailed the mini-feed. I have been bitten by countless Vampires, and I have ignored them. I have watched pretentious prats take quizzes and proudly proffer proof on their profiles. I have watched you go from an exclusivist reference website, useful for college students looking for names and numbers to a free-for-all, fully integrated clusterfuck. I can no longer pride myself on my abstinence from the Chlamydic Myspace, so embarrassing you have become. In four years, your only positive addition has been the brilliant Scrabulous, which continues to delay progress on my thesis.
But here we are again. Again, I find myself reeling from another addition to your already-crowded interface. Again, I find myself wondering from which trust-funded enema-pump bouncing around the trampoline and hammock-filled Facebook office came up with this… this…thing. I am speaking, of course, about “People You May Know.”
Facebook, dear Facebook. There are too many people on your pages. There are thousands upon thousands of embarrassing, tasteless photos of people drinking from red plastic cups. There are reams and reams of virtual pages professing love for Donnie Darko and Sigur Ros and Kurosawa. So much posturing! So much desperation!
And so, when I look at my friend count, I am not proud. I do not revel in my popularity. I am not an obsessive collector of online ‘friends.’ I do not need to fill in the gaps in my ‘social network’ by making sure I am connected to every possible node. Maybe I’m an old coot. I certainly feel like I am on some sort of generational cusp. I am terrible at Halo and I can’t text like the freshmen can. But I want online friendship to mean something. I will not add every single person on the website just because. And so I do not understand this latest feature, this attempt to correct the lacunae of the electronic representation of my interactions.
Especially because I don’t like most of the people you’ve suggested to me.
Not all of them are bad. Some of them just slipped through the cracks. Some of them I remain wholly neutral on. But, let’s just say that, sometimes, there might be a reason I’m not interfriends with someone. Maybe it’s petty. Maybe it’s silly. Maybe it’s legitimate. But I don’t need a reminder of their existence every time I sign into you. I know there are people I have not woven an electronic friendship bracelet for. I’m alright with that. Maybe we’ll bump into each other while browsing through photos or groups. Like the old days. And then maybe we’ll friend each other. And then make awkward small talk when we meet each other in real life, maybe making a self-conscious joke about being friends on Facebook but never having really spoken in real life. But this capitalist notion of acquisition, of completion, of voracious interconnectivity, is kind of unnerving.