Friday, March 4, 2011

The Tragedy of Facebook’s Defriend Day - Elegy on the Loss of Once Dear Acquaintances

EDITORIAL -- The social networking site Facebook has become such a significant aspect of people’s lives that many have neglected to fully consider the sweeping ramifications of this new media. One such implication is the fact that most people have hundreds of “friends” on their profile who cannot truly be labeled as such -- or even as acquaintances, or even as strangers in crowds they might one day stumble upon again. Many “friends” are, in reality, total strangers. If you don’t recognize the faces on your friend list -- most likely because you dizzily exchanged profile information over drinks in a claustrophobic nightclub -- then “Defriend Day” has been named in your honor.

But what of the victims traumatized by “Defriend Day,” those who languish in the long shadow cast by Facebook’s grandeur and its elite? What happens to those of us who’ve lost cherished friends, only now discovering that our relationships were nothing more than vacuous courtesies? I offer this elegy in response.

Elegy on the Loss of Facebook Friends
I lost a friend today. I don’t even know how to respond to this loss. I mean, I had one feeling left and you just hurt it. I’m overwhelmed.

Apparently, your profile no longer exists. You deleted it and canceled your account. I didn’t just drive you from my site, I drove you from Facebook entirely. Was I so callous? Did my words offend or hurt you so? Should I have omitted my political affiliations and religious preferences from my home page? Was it my glass eye and its inability to follow moving objects in the periphery? Tell me, lost friend. How doth I bring thee back?

The days only linger now, filled with expectancy. Filled with the grim task and emptiness of waiting. Waiting for endings. I can no longer endure. I must not.

And looking back on past regrets, which stare offensively at the physical book of my face from the mirror’s pane, I’ve realized that you were not the only friend I lost. You abandoned me. You meant to inflict pain. But was it divine retribution for all those other Facebook friends I forsook?

There was Marilyn. She was from Czchearcgaslz...I don’t know what the place was called or how to pronounce its name. It was some Slovak country whose sibilant syntax defiles English ears and tongues. But that’s where you were from. You were 25 and having trouble finding the “right guy.” You thought I was cute (based solely on the decades-old photo I posted on my profile page) and wanted to “hang out” with me. You didn’t use your Facebook account very often (we had so much in common), but directed me instead to the amateur porn site of yours. And I denied your love. Perhaps I was too overcome with emotions, insecurities, and my own personal demons.

Then there was Jessica. A pretty, young, blond thing from the beaches of Southern California. I thought you were just more pornographic spam, and I denied you. Turns out, you were real and thought I was cool. I would have merely let you down, ruined your self esteem, and destroyed you in the end. Like all the others.

And I remember Vic. I thought you were a girl. Victoria, I believed. In reality you were a rough, gay ex-Marine who wanted me to do things my body was never meant to physically. You too, gentle Vic, were hastily denied by my cruel clicking of the mouse.

So many of you lost to me. So many regrets. But at least I will always have MySpace and, therefore, Tom. Dear, precious, omnipresent Tom. Friend to every MySpacer. Your kind face appears on every page, you who are beloved by so many. You shall never betray nor abandon me. Good night, Tom. The day grows dark.

Like Eliot's Prufrock, I find myself preparing to walk along the gloomy shores of distant beaches -- my trousers rolled, my hair thin, my head grown old. Fearing even to eat a peach. Spying the mermaids singing to one another on the crests of far-off waves. Knowing, always, that they will never sing to me or subscribe to my posts.

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