Credit reports get you thinking about privacy and the exposure of your personal life. But if you really want to know that feeling, sign up for a Facebook account. It's a perfect double standard in action: it's thrilling to leaf through the pages of all your old theatre chums, but when someone you haven't seen since high school tags you as a friend, you get a slight chill -- as though your phone number's been written on the door of the wrong bathroom stall.
(Is there a "right" bathroom stall? Probably not, but some stalls are more wrong than others. Rent Desperado if you don't believe me.)
The second problem with Facebook is its objectifying nature, e.g. I've got friend F from the biology dept. at the U of R, but I knew friend G even better, so I should add G as well. Now I've got two friends from biology, but that's disproportional to the number of chemistry friends I had, so I'll start adding everyone from chemistry, even if I didn't know them... and so on, and so on. After a while, you feel like your "facebook" isn't complete until it's filled with everyone you ever knew, no matter how minor their role in your life. You start treating your friends like Pokémon, in other words.
This all came to a head last week, when someone from my old high school contacted me. (Interjection of reassurance to those concerned: Relax. I'm not talking about you.) You see, in my four years there, I'd never had lunch with the guy, never joined the same sports team as him, never ridden in his car, never borrowed a quarter for the phone, etc. The closest interaction we had is that he'd throw things at me in Mr. Johnson's Grade 10 English. And now, he wants to list me as his friend. Clearly, the man is suffering from Facebook Pokémon Syndrome, a.k.a. Pokébooking.
I thought long and hard about whether or not to play along, and I was undecided right up until today. You see, my parents stopped by for a visit this morning, and my mother brought along some old family photographs. I'm used to the embarrassment by now, but it was something different this time.
I saw some pictures of me, as I would have appeared in Mr. Johnson's Grade 10 English.
You know what? Anyone who knew me when I looked like that, and is still kind enough to acknowledge me? If they weren't my friend then, they're friend material now.