A few weeks ago I was invited to a friend’s birthday party at a fine Thai restaurant. I knew no one except the birthday boy and my wife as we sat down at a table of about 18 people. Directly across from me sat a girl whom I vaguely recognized. As she introduced her self and we shook hands I meekly said to her, “Hi I’m Keith and um, well I think we are actually friends. You know, on Facebook…”
It was a funny –awkward -but funny moment as we all realized we were experiencing a strange side of the new paradigm of social relations.
Perhaps more and more people will find Mobile Broadband and computers come with instruction manuals for the social networks they open doors to. It is a tricky universe to navigate. Ten years ago we didn’t have to worry about our Facebook vs. Real Life behavior. Now we do. So yeah… kind of awkward…
Sort of a ‘We are ‘friends’ but you don’t know it and I do but don’t feel embarrassed because I knew we were friends and you didn’t because since we are only virtual friends it’s not like we are really friends and I should feel slighted and you embarrassed.’ Right?
On the other side of the virtual fence, I ‘friended’ a gal who works at my local coffee shop. I friended her when I realized that she was friends with some of my friends (real time – not just virtual). And I recognized her as the girl at the coffee shop. So I figured it was a safe friending. One where I wouldn’t be considered some strange stalker. I mean c’mon –I’m happily married with a kid, I was just new to facebook and feeling kinda lonely out there in cyberspace and wanted to make some more friends. Plus promote my blog. And my band. And my male escort service. Kidding.
So we exchanged online pleasantries. “Oh hey! You’re the one that blah, blah, blah…” “Yeah, totally, and you know so and so! Cool…”
Ok then. Deal done. Friend made.
So as time passed and I grew more acquainted with the mores of Facebook interaction, I noticed that many of coffee girl’s status updates were quite funny. So I intelligently and/or hilariously (well, I thought so anyway) commented on a few. And myself being one that tries to post something of wit and interest on my updates, refraining from mundane reports like “Feeling happy”, or “Bought new socks”, saw she made some sharp and witty responses to a few of mine that made me laugh out loud.
Now this happened enough times where all of a sudden I felt like I knew her –like one of my wife’s friends, or somebody that used to date one of my best friends or something. Again I stress –none of that creepy cyber–stalking or ‘like an old girlfriend’ kind of stuff. Just an old friend sharing a few good jokes sort of thing.
So after a few of these back and forth things over the course of a number weeks I realize I started getting this vague sense of anxiety about actually seeing her (gasp!) in person at the coffee shop. Like what am I going to say? “Hey good comment on my status update on November fourth!” Or, “So, you have a cat named Fifi eh? My Mom’s cat is named Fifi…” I mean isn’t that the kind of thing that in any other situation the person would think, “How the hell do you know my cat is named Fifi you frickin’ perv and why do you care?”
I don’t know man. I just don’t know.
What I do know is one minute I’m in my safe little snuggly cyber-book-face-space world having a good chuckle at what someone wrote in response to my update and the next, I’m suddenly in 10th grade again standing face to face with this person I had a good laugh with (or at least I think I did…) and feeling totally retarded. Except it’s not normal retarded. It’s Facebook retarded. Facetarded. That’s it-
I’m a Facetard.
I thought I was way over my schoolboy awkwardness but no, technology has brought it rearing back again in it’s full glory.
And it’s like, come on, I’m married. I have a kid. I’m a grown up. I thought I was over this stuff.
I guess I was wrong.
Good Lord, I even have anxiety about posting this. Oh well.
Click here for the second part where I explore the reason behind the awkwardness.