In the beginning there was so much about social networking that I didn’t understand. What was the etiquette? What were the rules? In the beginning I thought it was just about reconnecting with friends from high school, college, and university. It was even quite a while before I confessed to Paul that I had a facebook account. (I was embarassed.) Turns out he had one, too. So we linked ourselves and I felt a twinge of joy when we were officially listed as married on facebook.
One day I said, “you’ll never believe who added me as a friend on facebook.” He immediately spouted out the name of an ex-boyfriend. Somehow trying to explain that I was added by a girl who wouldn’t have even looked at me in high school didn’t seem so strange after that. I was in a quandary; we didn’t know each other at all (yes I had seen her in the halls but I was fairly sure she hadn’t seen me) and I had no reason to believe that either of our lives had changed so much that we would necessarily be friends now. But I certainly didn’t want to be rude, not accept the add, and be branded as the snob. He counselled me to accept the add, which I did with a note saying “I didn’t think you knew who I was.”
Turns out I was right. She thought I was another Heather. The one that everyone knew. The one that travelled from social group to social group without totally being part of any of them or losing the friends in the others. I knew her because everyone knew her. She was nice. She was unpeggable to a group. And she was beautiful. I knew her best because Loren, and half of the other guys at school, was in love with her. I, certainly, was not that Heather.
So now I’m facebook friends with a girl from high school I most certainly didn’t know in high school and with whom I continue to have nothing in common. As I browse her profile I see that she’s collected the friendships of everyone who has attended our high school. Good for her, I guess, I’d never have the gall to contact complete strangers and make a friend request.
I have a hard enough time with people I knew well but with whom I haven’t spoken in a decade. (With each move I dropped off the planet.) I’m always compelled to include a personal note with my friend requests, “Hi, it’s Heather Maidename, how are you?” because I’m convinced no one remembers that I got married and to whom. I still expect to get a reply back one of these times, saying, “I don’t remember you” and I’m always surprised when they accept the add immediately.
I lost myself in the vortex of facebook early on. I squandered an entire naptime finding people I knew when I lived in the Okanagan. I found nearly all of them. It was interesting to see who married whom. I didn’t add any of them. Mostly it’s because I was afraid of putting myself out there and having them not remember. But also it’s because I figured if I haven’t had contact with them in a decade and a half, did I really need to go back? It’s been so long and we’ve grown up so much it wouldn’t count as re-opening old friendships, it would require starting them from scratch. I’m just not willing to invest that kind of time. I don’t think I have that kind of time, really. I don’t give that kind of time to the friends I already have.
I think I was afraid that in the end I would look like some desperate shell of a person, living online and collecting virtual friends to fill a void in my personal life.
It’s nice to have so many of my friends all together in the same cybercorner. I like keeping up with their updates without having to email them all individually — I’m not great at keeping up with the emails. I don’t think I’m going to remove the girl I don’t know from my friend list, or the other near-strangers from whom I’ve accepted adds, but I’m fairly sure that if we ever do have a high school reunion (doubtful, they aren’t common with our high school) she and I won’t seek each other out. She’s going to be too busy with the majority of the student body.
And I’m going to be too busy with my five close friends whom I know personally and love dearly. I look at her profile sometimes. I think I’m happier than she is. I’m happy with my choices.