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Le Bernardin

Image by Gandhu & Sarah via Flickr

2 years ago a childhood pal strong-armed me into joining Facebook.  I had resisted for a long time because I had no idea what it was all about and didn’t’ care. But she kept after me, saying it was fun and that she hadn’t laughed that much in years…so I fell for it.

At first my friend was correct. It was fun. I was recovering from surgery and had nothing better to do whilst doped up lounging in bed. Friend after friend from the past came out of the gloom, stories were told, pictures shared, many laughs had. Scrabble games ensued, I met long-lost cousins in other countries, and I found it truly entertaining…but not for long.

I know I’m not the first to reflect upon this frightening encephalopod of “social networking” or whatever the hell it is supposed to be but I began to find it more and more frightening as the months passed. People I knew in the 8th grade “friended” me, friends of my sister and brother, “friended” me, total strangers “friended” me.  I did not say yes to all of them and found the “requests” without a note attached, rude and simply deleted them. Helllooooo people? You want to be my friend after 35 years but can’t say hello? This is what they call “friend collectors”. They just want their numbers to go up.

Then the “wall” wars began. One friend might put something silly and irreverent up but another would find it offensive or not understand it was a joke and then they would go crazy. Emails upon emails regarding someone they didn’t know or understand. Political manifestos shoved down my throat, divorce announcements, stalking as well.  Some evil-doer from my past would request me and I would say no, but they would request again and again, and again. I would deny it over and over, etc.  Then there are the so-called celebrity profile pages.

I grew up with a now famous movie director (whoopdeeedoo!) and one day I received a “friend request” from him.  I pondered it, denied it immediately and emailed this friend directly asking if he were indeed on Facebook. His response was something like “no way…is there someone posing as me?”  Now let me be clear, this was not a “fan” page, it was a personal profile of this person. People he had known from junior high were his friends. Sweet, unsuspecting people writing on “his” wall saying how proud they were of him, etc. When I alerted the ones I knew that it was not our friend, most did not believe me.  When said friend had his lawyers (or whomever) remove the page, it got me thinking that just about anyone can pose as a celebrity on Facebook and you will never know if they are truly who they say they are…unless you are their real friend.

We’ve all seen on the news what teenagers are doing to their reputations by posting lewd, crude and socially irresponsible images and quotes. They bully, they make themselves targets for sexual predators and they do not, will not listen to a grownups advice. Teenagers never have, never will. That’s why there should be an island for teenagers.

I had to cancel my “Facebok friendship” with a friend’s daughter because I couldn’t look at her page anymore and the horrible things she was posting…even in jest. She and her friends had no clue what they were doing and she wouldn’t listen to me or her parents about her future.

Many other outrageous things happened to me while on Facebook and for the most part I found it fascinating to watch and great fodder for humor but that all ended last week.

Before I begin this last bit, let me first say that I do understand everyone grieves in their own way. When death hits us, prepared or not, some go running down the street pulling out their hair, some hit the bottle, some pray, some cry, some contemplate.  I am not without compassion as some might think.

My little pal who strong-armed me into Facebook was diagnosed with stomach cancer about 2 months ago, maybe more maybe less. I knew she didn’t have long and we had some funny chats on the phone regarding some outrageous things I am supposed to do at her funeral.  I knew she was going to die, and someone dear to her had kept me posted by private email as to her state of being.

The final straw for me with Facebook was finding out she had died by reading it on someone’s “wall”. Like electronic graffiti for the new age: “RIP…blah blah blah.”  A friend of over 30 years and I get to read it like it’s a Twitter message from Justin Bieber (whoever the hell he is).

It was not written privately to mutual friends, it was not written delicately or gently to let us know. It was written impulsively and selfishly (pay attention to me!) and there is nothing anyone can say to me to change my mind regarding this matter.

I then began to get hysterical calls from other friends who had not known. Then the ghoulish “RIP” kept showing up all over the place. It made me sick to my stomach.  Is that really all anyone can come up with? It doesn’t matter now. I know that people act stupidly when they think they are being sincere. But how about a little decorum, eh?

And that was the death of my FB profile page. It took me 2 days to get rid of 400 people and keep the ones I wanted and are close to.

The irony of all this drama is that my friend would love it. I wish we could have shared a meal at Le Bernardin together for she was a true foodie. She would love my anger, love the grotesque outpouring of emotion of thousands of people. Yes, I think she had over a thousand friends.  Most likely she is smoking a Marlboro, sipping white wine and swearing her brains out  in another universe whilst laughing hysterically. At least I hope so.

My mother’s favorite expression these days is: “Do not become addicted to the drama of negativity.”