I’m not writing about making a new friend the conventional way such as meeting someone at an event, school, workplace, or a party and hitting it off. No, I mean via Facebook. Now it is possible to befriend someone via this social network and get to know them. I did with Keith and now I work at HAND/EYE Magazine. But do you ever wonder why we “friend” the people we do on Facebook?
I have “friended” people who share common interests with me. Some include people I’ve been in touch via the Internet Writing Workshop. Now I can actually put a face to their emails. I’ve friended other writers as well as some of the artisans that HAND/EYE writes about.
It’s always a bit of a surprise, though, to get a friend request from someone you have no clue why they friended you at all. For example, and I hope he doesn’t mind that I use him to make my point. Earlier today I received a friend request from Matthew Fraser. Mr. Fraser lives in Paris with his two dogs, Oscar and Leo (lucky dogs, Mr. Fraser is included in that as well). Out of curiosity I looked at Mr. Fraser information and he’s very forthcoming. He included his blog, Throwing Sheep, which I took a peek, his wikipedia entry, which I read. I read a few of his wall posts, looked at his photos of Oscar and Leo, his photo album of Paris, and so on.
The only friend that we have in common is my former magazine writing teacher Sue Shapiro, so I am scratching my head and wondering why he chose to friend me on Facebook. I don’t have the illustrious academic background he has, nor the impressive CV. Is it because my name is Rebeca? (his late wife’s name was Rebecca. Note: spelled with two “c’s”), is it because we’re both dog lovers? Is it because I’ve expressed my desire to live in Paris? Has he read this blog and found something I’ve written somewhat interesting? It’s a huge question mark.
Now don’t get me wrong, but I am very flattered that Mr. Fraser has found me, and requested that I befriend him. However, intellectually I am completely out of his league. I’m talking his Proust to my Marvel comics. His Arthur Miller to my Marilyn Monroe, his Hillary Clinton to my Bill Clinton (just fooling around on that one). This guy has a doctorate in poli sci.from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, whereas I went to a university in San Francisco that was known more for its PC lefty politics and I had to take statistics three times when I was in grad school!
Some of you might think that I am selling myself short. Maybe. But I wonder with the exception of the actual flesh and blood friends that we’ve connected on Facebook, would these virtual friendships actually click in real life? Is it like online dating? Hook up via Match.com, have some great email exchanges, talk on the phone that eventually leads to dinner and then BANG! You never hear back from the guy or gal because the bar has been set so high that no one can ever meet unrealistic, romantic expectations. Can Facebook friendships evolve into a strong platonic relationship where you can sit down and have a nice relaxed conversation over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Or take the mutts out together for jaunt in the woods. Or that you you can trust that person and confide with him, joke around, or ask them to water your plants or pick up your mail while your gone on vacation?Is it possible?
I guess I’ll have to book a trip to Paris and find out.