A Friend By Any Other Name
A college-aged daughter of a friend of mine recently sent me a Facebook friend request.
Now, I know one is not really supposed to analyze these things. Getting a Facebook friend request doesn’t mean the person necessarily wants to be your “friend’’ in the old-fashioned sense of the word.
It’s a mindless click of the mouse. Your name pops up on their computer screen and the person thinks: Hmm, one more person I can add to grow my list ... just because. It’s kind of like Internet dating, where you can crush someone’s fragile heart with the delete button. Except less casual.
You just accept or ignore.
But when you are a parent of a certain age (i.e., before the Internet), you are trained to think differently.
Make that: Actually think.
And what I thought when I got this request was: Do I really want to see pictures of this young lady at college parties and read all the conversations between her and her friends? I don’t. There are some things you’re better off just not being a part of. And the college lives of my friends’ kids is one of those.
I recall when my own daughter was in high school, posting photos of herself in bikinis and engaging in mean girl exchanges with others for all of cyberspace to read. A friend of mine requested to be my daughter’s friend and then proceeded to report what she saw on my daughter’s Facebook page to the rest of my circle.
She even – gasp – started commenting on the kids’ comments.
To which my daughter said: What is up with that friend of yours? She is weird.
But now it was my turn. I suppose I could have ignored the request. But I like this kid and ignoring her request would have been rude (another old-fashioned idea).
I could accept the request, but what if I saw something troubling? Her mom and I are close friends, which means I would have to report what I saw – like a true friend would. I didn’t want to be a spy.
In typical un-cool parental fashion, I decided to talk with the young lady about it – as a message on Facebook, of course, misspellings, abbreviations and grammatical errors included.
Me: I am honored to get this friend request (hope it was not a mistake. ha ha.) But I have some rules about being “friends” with my friends kids. Rule #1: Don’t be their facebook friend. But you are an exception because you are hilarious and cool so OK. We can be facebook friends. Rule #2: By being my friend you are like one of my kids now so I get special rights, whatever they may be. Basically, I guess those would be whatever rights your mom has.
Have you changed your mind yet?
She: lmao!!! oh my god i was laughing so hard when i read this...no i have not changed my mind!!! my mom did have limited view but now i gave her full access so that means you have full access to my page ;) yess you are privileged lol im just kidding!! xoxo
We never Facebooked again.
It wasn’t for any of the reasons I feared. I think my name just popped up on her computer screen one day and she clicked: Send Friend Request, never really expecting to think about it again.
But we are friends. Real friends.
Simar Khanna is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.