I’ve had a number of LDS folks from two local wards sending me friendliness requests the past week. There is one – perhaps two ‐ common friend in our unconnected rosters; I’ve got my setting at “friends of friends” on who can knock on my virtual door and ask “Have you heard the Good Word?” Call me somewhere between skeptical and paranoid, but I’m going to plug in “LDS” at Google Translate and it better not come back as the Sanskrit acronym for NSA.
In any case, I want to comment on the FB term “friend request.” It feels needy and desperate, hitting up a stranger with the playground equivalent of “Will you be my friend?” It’s the lonely plea of the weird kid who makes Pokemon sculptures from a sticky of mess of paste and boogers. And then eats it.
“Friend request” is so presumptuous, that just because we have another unknown person in common that a click-send will gain you access to the social wonderland of people who are traditional friends. You know, like people I’ve known since third grade and people who would give me a kidney but only if they die first (think that one through and point out their logical error) or simply those personally chosen people whose company I enjoy and we go out of our way to spend time together.
So, I click “approve” to a “friend request” from a sketchy Mormon fellow and now I consider him my friend. It’s a social contract giving Elder Spooky access to the very bottom of my bottomless heart. And maybe a kidney twice removed.
Point being, it’s yet another psy op social engineering ploy by FB to homogenize human relations by tweaking established language. Example? When was the last time you were sent an invitation via social media? And how often do you use the pleasantry “Thanks for the invite”? Once upon a past grammatical time “invite” was a verb and not a noun. Thanks for the invitation; invitation is the associated noun. How insidious.
What is more realistic is a “friendliness request” (notice I used that turn of phrase in the first paragraph … now I’m insidious). It’s an offer to be friendly and cordial with each other that isn’t so needy and presumptuous. It implies we’ll feel each other out for a while, try each other on for size, and then consider an upgrade to being possible future friends. Maybe.
Get this about online friends. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care for some people on social media. They are very unpleasant to behold. Is this rare? And when I ultimately jettison their nonsense like an oddly discolored ice cube from the Dave Matthews tour bus, there is a very brief pang of “Great, I just lost another friend.” You see, having undiagnosed bipolar meant there’s a painful history of losing friends (I’m much better now with lots of actual friends). But then I snap out of my lost friend fugue state and realize, “Dagnabbit! FB duped me into a baseless artificial relationship for which there is no investment other than ‘approve’!”
Friendliness request. I’m going to henceforth alter in my mind’s decision protocol that I’m receiving an offer of friendliness and not a demand for meaningful status in my life.
My friends are chosen with great earnestness through a process of trust, caring, and dependability. Fb, I reject your attempt to sully the significance of what “friend” means to me! Fb, you are not my friend!
In contrast, Tom at MySpace is one of my longest-lasting and closest online friends. He reached out to me within the first one second of joining Myspace. Tom showed me he really cared and appreciated having me join. Tom rocks out with his socks out!
So a couple of closing comments. Firstly, I’ve no ill will or animosity for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My very best friend since third grade, Derek Wilson, grew up in a Mormon household. I went to many teen social functions at his ward in California and later Arizona. I enjoyed the teen hospitality and teen company. I even fell deeply in love with a Mormon lass. And I have the COJCOLDS to thank for introducing me to the word “latter.”
It’s just strangely anomalous getting such a flurry of friendliness requests from folks in my ward and the ward just north of me. Did I invite elders over for a meal and then forgot? Because I always invite a pair of elders over for a bbq while they’re on their mission. I should call the bishop and ask tomorrow. And if the bishop says “no” then I’ll reevaluate the need for paranoia.
Secondly, befriending the weird kids in school was a lot more fun than the well-adjusted kids. Weird kids are inventive and interesting, well-adjusted kids are flatlined and boring.
Epilogue: This is a fully explored random thought. Those short clips I typically post are just archived random thoughts I might revisit later for blog articles and stand up sets. The more you know.
And, resist the urge to pick apart this post for logical inconsistencies and deep erudite discussion. It’s merely a jokey thought and yarn to spin for an audience. There’s nothing important to see here.
Of course, feel free to slather me up with your accolades and praise for job well done.