Saturday, April 18, 2009

Do I know you?

I have 209 Facebook friends as of this writing. I only communicate with about 20 of them more than once a month. Of those 20, only about 10 of them are real friends whom I see or talk to daily/weekly over IM or e-mail. The other 189? I haven't talked to them in ages.

Now, I'm not the kind of person who goes and adds friends willy-nilly without good reason. If you request to be my friend, I actually consider it very carefully before clicking Add. I first ask "do I know you?" Well, I don't ask you, but I ask myself regarding you. I'm not on Facebook to make friends, just to keep them. There have been one or two exceptions, but I won't mention those.

But do I really know those 189 people I never talk to? I don't know about you, but when I see someone in person whom I haven't talked to in years, it's usually more or less a big deal. Sometimes it's full of handshakes, hugs, smiles, but mostly it's the whole "catching up" thing. Before I even talk about any kind of business or plans anything current, I find it important to make up for the period of time in their lives and my life that needs to be filled in. But this mentality came from the old days before Facebook and these other social networking things, when I wouldn't regularly "see" what 209 people are doing several times per month.

It's a strange new thing - knowing what people are doing on a regular basis even when you haven't talked to them for years. I see their activity in my news feed: pictures, statuses, notes, posted links, wall messages and I often want to comment on them. But I feel really, really awkward just randomly commenting because it's basically doing exactly what I don't like doing - addressing an old acquaintance without saying "hi," "it's been forever," "what's new?"

Am I alone on this? Do you care if someone you haven't even thought about in years just up and comments on your page without so much as a "hello"? Is this the direction we are going, where no matter how far away we are from each other, talking for the first time is no big deal?

What do you think?