Column and Picture by Aunt Mary

Facebook Faux Pas

Dear wonderful nephews and nieces,

Well, your Aunt Mary finally went and did it! She got herself a computer and joined hypercyber revolution as you young ones out there all like to call it. What a brave new eworld this is, dear ones. Not one day was I on the world wide interweb before my box was filled with probing equestions from you all. I have no idea how you all sniffed me out so fast. You poor souls are all so very desperate for Aunt Mary’s counsel, aren’t you? Some times I have to stop and pity each and every darling one of you, I really do. But I know all too well how much you love your Aunt Mary and to be so needed by so many makes me a very happy Mary indeed; dare I go so far as to say it makes me a proud Mary? But enough! I need to keep on rolling down the river, don’t I young nephews and nieces?  Oh, but one more note before I go on, I do need to let you know that it may take me a while to get my elegs under me and find the time in my hectic schedule to ewrite back to you all especially as my little puss-puss has taken sick again and is demanding I pay her constant attention and cater to her every whim this week.

For now, I do want to address one econcern that was sent to me by my dear Nephew Norman. He ewrote:

Dear Aunt Mary, when will you be getting a Facebook page? We do so need your help navigating the treacherous seas of social networking. I have one particular Facebook friend whom I feel I have let go but I really don’t know the best way to do so. I and she, you see, have a history and even though we parted amicably I don’t really want this past dalliance spying on my present. Should I simply cut her off? Or is there a more mannered way for me to move on with my life?

Well, Norman, until I received your enote I frankly had slim to no information about this Facebook fad; but as you know your Aunt Mary is nothing if not resourceful and her razor sharp mind has been finished to a fine edge by years of trial and thus her experience in all matters of social import is second to none. Since receiving your emessage I set out to undertake an investigation of all things Facebook and I now feel adequately prepared to bring succor to your epleadings.

Facebook. Where do I start? Apparently in this 21st century virtual existence of ours this is what passes for social interaction. Tweetering and twitting and bloggering each other ad infinitum et nauseum. Accumulating new friends like sailors contract communicable diseases. Rounding up old friends most of whom we barely even acknowledged during our adolescent years. Pretending to be farmers and gansters and engaging in any number of imaginary games that we should have outgrown as preteens. Not to mention wasting countless valuable hours relentlessly swapping photos and songs and video clips as if we were collectively starved for any and every form of entertainment and doing most if not all of these activities while sitting alone at a keyboard in our pajamas or worse. In short, dear ones, this Facebook addiction has to be a one of the saddest reflections I know of how far we have fallen down the socio-evolutionary scale. If you ask me primates, ants and penguins now officially have more genuine interaction with one another on a daily basis than modern mankind.

But do not allow yourselves to believe that you are suddenly off the hook, dear ones. We cannot allow ourselves to add insult to injury. Just because we have launched ourselves headlong down this path of degeneration does not mean be are beyond reformation. What we have to do is take a stand and demand that our new virtual interactions carry with them the same obligations to social mores that our physical interactions once did.

Here, dear nephew Norman, is what your Aunt Mary strongly suggests you need to do avoid committing any further Facebook faux pas.

For one you have to start considering your online friendships as carefully as you do your offline friendships. Clicking the friend button should be akin to an invitation to a dinner party. One does not simply slam the door on a guest carrying an RSVP. An invited guest is at the very least deserving of an explanation or, if the fault is yours, an apology should the invitation need to be revoked. A reversal or revoking of friendship should never be undertaken on a whim but only carried out after careful reflection and for good and just reasons. As a practical step, nephew, you owe your one-time belle an honest and open explanation for your new found need to remove her from your virtual space. I suggest you send her an enote, or better yet a hand-written letter, that says something along these lines:

“Dear friend, It is clear that we once were closer than we are today and while I still cherish the time we spent together the bond we once had is no longer what it was. For us to continue to share intimacies and have our lives entwined, even in virtual manner, can only tie us to the past and impede our future growth and progress. Regrettably, the only logical way for us both to seek the better good is to cut these ties that bind and move on to a brighter tomorrow. I will in due course remove you from my friends list. I hope you can see that this is the best for both of us because if you continue to seek out a virtual friendship with me I will be forced to block you from my interweb completely. Yours sincerely, etc..

You have no doubt already realized that you have many other current Facebook friends who need to be pared off your dinner list. Really, Norman you actually believe you have the time and will to adequately interact with 238 Facebook friends? I thought not. Here are a few suggestions for trimming your list.

To status twitterers: Dear friend, in the past few hours I have learned that you woke up feeling blue, you made coffee, you watched the today show, you had a change of heart, and you are looking forward to a big evening. Although these events may feel life affirming and/or of vital importance within your small sphere of existence, I have grown weary of your constant status updates and see no other option but to retract my previous invitation of virtual friendship. Yours regrettably, etc..

To the quizaholics: Dear friend, I care not a whit what your pirate name would be or who is your celebrity beau. I am not interested in which Shakespeare character you are or what famous philosopher you most resemble. Because you seem unable to stop posting the results of the latest infantile test you clicked through I will be forced to click the “remove from friends” button immediately after I click send on this email. Yours emphatically, etc..

To the clearly deranged: Dear friend, when I accepted your original invitation of virtual friendship I frankly had no idea you had devolved over the past few decades into a slobbering lunatic. I now see there is no hope of you ever regaining the status of functional adult and so I find I am forced to delete you from my list of friends. I do hope you are unsuccessful in your attempt to secure my address and I warn you ahead of time that should you try to contact me again I will not hesitate to slap you with an order of restraint. Yours blantantly, etc..

I hope you take my response as seriously as I intended it to be received, dear nephew Norman. And before I conclude also consider this…perhaps if you didn’t have quite so many pictures of your drunken excesses and reckless ribaldry plastered all over the interweb you would not be so concerned about snooping eyes in the first place. Perhaps if you were able to show even a modicum of restraint in your virtual life you would not feel so compelled to toss your guests from the party willy-nilly. The old adage still applies dear ones. What you refrain from showing is ever more appealing than what you do.

Until next time dear nephew and nieces, nosce te ipsum and also know that Aunt Mary loves you to pieces…almost as much as she adores her sickly little puss-puss.