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Be My CyberFriend

Be My CyberFriend

How can I join Facebook if I don't have any cyberfriends?


Making friends isn't as easy as it used to be. In the old days, you met someone at work, a party, or a class, struck up a conversation, and voila! A friendship was born. But that is so retro. Today's friendships are happening online, on MySpace, Facebook, SmugMug, Friendster, Frappr, and other social networking sites. In fact, in the time it took me to type that sentence, five new social networking sites went live, most of them with names that are also missing vowels.

It would seem that just by sending emails to the right people, you, too, can become popular. But since you are now judged not by the company you keep, but by volume, the pressure to collect friends is intense. Unless you have at least 458 friends on one of these sites, you might as well ship off to Embarrass, Minnesota.

I found it tough enough to pay attention to the friends I already had, so I vowed to sit this whole cyber-friendship thing out. I needed to go hunting for a new social quarry online like I needed another orthodontist bill. But business networking experts keep insisting that online social networking is critical to one's career success. My resistance weakened, but hadn't yet caved in. Then one day I received this email:

"Ben added you as a friend on Facebook. We need you to confirm that you are, in fact, friends with Ben."

Well, I thought, if invitations were going to start pouring in this easily, I'd hop on the cyber-friendship train. I immediately registered with Facebook to confirm that Ben was, in fact, my friend. I had known the guy for 15 years, and was flattered by his invitation. After all, it's not every 15-year-old who will ask his mother to be his friend on Facebook.

I viewed Ben's profile and saw that he had 92 friends on Facebook. I had a lot of catching up to do, and not just in scoring new friends. As his mother, it was my duty to look at all his friends' profiles and make sure there were no girls whose photos I thought were overly suggestive.

In less than two weeks, I had secured six Facebook friends, and three of them were my kids

After approving Ben's friends, I began a targeted marketing effort to become popular online. In less than two weeks, I had secured six Facebook friends, and three of them were my kids. One was my next door neighbor, David; one was my web designer; and the last one was a guy named Rich whose photo was taken while he was riding an elephant. I'm not sure I know him, but he had the same name as a guy I used to work with, and it wouldn't surprise me one whit if that guy would have ended up riding elephants.

One day, while "managing" my small group of friends online, I "wrote on the wall" of one of my son's pages to say hi. I still hadn't figured out how to expand my online social circle, and I was running out of children and next-door neighbors. My son wrote back on my wall: "Mom, the fact that you only have six friends is making me reconsider our Facebook friendship." Would he actually delete me as a friend for my paltry social status? He wouldn't dare. He is still too dependent on regular cash infusions from the Bank of J. and J. Gruen.

Although I thought that belonging to Facebook made me at least a little bit cool, I was disabused of this notion by one of my kid's friends. He sniffed, "Facebook is for older people. Cool people are on MySpace, ShoutWire, or Wetpaint." Adding insult to injury, he said this while taking a third helping of pizza from my dinner table.

I went though my email contact list, looking to see if I could "upsell" a mere contact to friend status. I found a few already registered, and am now waiting anxiously to see if they will accept my invitation to become friends. If they do, I'll be up to nine friends, only 83 behind Ben.

Sometimes I wonder: where are the Jewish social networking sites? I can just imagine what would happen if there were sites called "Gefilteface," "Yidster," or "Guiltbook." Turf wars would break out, and invitations to join "Gefilteface" would be met by "Feh! I wouldn't join that site if you paid me!" Better we should keep it the way it is, non-sectarian. Besides, there wouldn't be enough space on the walls for all the notes that people would try to shove in.

I can just imagine what would happen if there were sites called "Gefilteface," "Yidster," or "Guiltbook."

I suspect that despite my efforts, this whole business of collecting "friends" like kids used to collect baseball cards or marbles is just too complicated, too silly, and too nosy. You have to divulge how you know people, checking the appropriate box: "We went to school together." "We dated." "We worked together." "We lived together." "We flew a bombing mission together over Vietnam together."

Oh, good news! I just got an email saying that Aaron has just agreed to be my friend! We were college buddies, studying Shakespeare together. Now I have seven friends!

Perhaps if I post an intriguing photo of myself on my page – perhaps, like Rich, posed on an elephant – I'll attract new relationships. But I'm also willing to concede defeat and go back to "managing" my friendships the old fashioned way: sending emails, text messaging, trying to reach them on their cell phones, and occasionally, seeing them in person.

Now I'm off to an urban safari, hunting for a stray elephant who will let me take a picture of the two of us. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. Imagine how thin I'll look while perched on an elephant!

November 17, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Colin Plen, November 25, 2007 1:17 PM

Pizza!! is that what you give your children for dinner?

If my mother heard that I had given my children pizza for dinner she would not want to have my name on her Facebook at all

(7) Ruth Blaustein, November 23, 2007 4:57 PM

Expand your activities

It is difficult to be your own person until children are out of high school
Check in at local community college-
Women's Center; even if you are working
I am a senior citizen-it is a start

(6) Shells, November 22, 2007 10:40 AM

Facebook stops me feeling lonely.... is that sad?

I too am a Mother and I'd never heard of social networking until I went to a house party and someone I used to work with told me that he never received the emails I'd sent him. He went on to say that he preferred Facebook because it worked! Well I have to confess I wasn't too sure.... I am not a keen technology person. I do not have an answer machine or voicemail peferring only to talk to people. Anyways he was insistent that it was ok and worked so I checked it out. To start with I had one friend and didn't know what to do. I started off by sharing my poetry in the poetry group and telling other people how great I thought they were with their writtings and then we made friends. Which was great cause then on their profiles I could see what they were doing and thought hey... that sounds interesting... and before I knew it, I was hopping round so many groups I amassed over 50! My friends are like minded people, I liken to being my Facebook Family, all over the world who are sharing and helping each other with different points of view etc which I love AND because I love people I can, when I think of them, send them FREE virtual gifts, music and other cool things at a time that suits me and then when they are awake and online they do the same. Being at home most of the time Facebook has revolutionised my life and I confess also I have joined the Facebook Addicts Group! It's good to type/talk, feel understood and relieve loneliness. I thank God for Facebook :0) and I'm not ashamed to admit it! shalom Shells x

(5) Bernadette, November 21, 2007 7:28 PM


This story is to funny, but also true. I used to turn down invites to be someone's cyber friend (i knew them in person so why would I?) until one day I caved in and signed up for Friendster. I have had a very positive experience so far. This year, I found old highschool friends whom I lost touch with twenty years ago. We've not only met up online, but we have managed to meet (gasp!) in person to! So for all of those who have not yet tried a cyber hook-up, stop hatin' on it, get on board and ttyl!!!

(4) Dena, November 20, 2007 3:10 PM


Good article (and timely).
What I find really strange is when people whom I don't know invite me to be their "friend" on Facebook. Come on people. Get a life!

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