Who Do You Ignore on Facebook?

Let's start with my daughter's friends, and people I barely know

I believe I am a fairly blessed person. I have a happy and healthy family and some very good friends. The kind of friends I can count on for a hug when I need one, a willing ear when I’m upset, and heartfelt advice when it is warranted. If you asked all my closest friends to gather together, I’m sure they would fill my living room. Well, my kitchen, at least.

My daughter would need a concert hall. The Kimmel Center seats how many? Maybe the Wachovia? You see, my daughter has 843 really good friends. Best Buds. All on Facebook. Now, doesn’t it seem impossible that a person, albeit one as bright and entertaining as I believe she is, could have that many wonderful, reliable, give-me-a-hug-when-I-need-one friends?

The Facebook Friend phenomenon is amusing at best and most perplexedly annoying at worst. When I opened a Facebook page several years ago it was to stay in touch with my daughter using this exciting and most popular form of cyber-communication. Okay, that’s probably not the whole truth; it was mostly so I could check up on her, and get a sense of what she and her legions of friends were up to. I learned several things, not the least of which is that they all have potty mouths and apparently believe we parents are all convinced that it’s Dr. Pepper in those red Solo cups. Yea right. Since when does diet soda come from potatoes grown in Russia? While navigating this new horizon, I was abruptly educated in Facebook Etiquette. While peering over my shoulder, my daughter watched me do the unthinkable. I hit Ignore.[SIGNUP]

“Mom! That’s so rude! That’s like slapping someone in the face! You can’t hit ignore! That’s terrible!” Then she made that throat sound that translates in teenager-speak to “You’re so stupid.” I don’t get it, the Friending thing.

These aren’t friends, these are people I barely knew a thousand years ago. It should be called People-I-Barely-Know-ing, not Friending. First I check to see if there’s a Mutual Friend involved. That’s usually a PIBK that I confirmed in a weak moment (daughter is right, sometimes it takes real guts to hit Ignore!). If there’s no mutual friend, I run to my high school and college yearbooks. That’s where I usually find them, stare at the picture and realize that I either don’t remember them or don’t remember them fondly. Hit Ignore.

Then there are my daughter’s friends. When I first opened my page, I received lots of Friend Requests from her friends. What?! While I’m flattered that maybe they think I’m the Cool Mom, I wrote back to each a message explaining that they should not be fooled by my apparent Cool Mom status, and that I am really a double agent. And that, if I were to be their friend and, say, learn of anything illegal or unhealthy or just plain gross, I would rat them out to their parents faster then they can say “whateverrrrr.” I am, after all, management. Then I hit Ignore.

Next category of cyber friends would be my genuine friends—I know what they look like and where they live and the names of their children. I was happy to see these friends reach out to me so that we can all stay connected. But, come on, you guys! This Facebook thing does not exempt you from an actual phone call, text, letter (what’s that?) or e-mail. How ’bout some one-on-one? Maybe you all have 843 friends too, and it’s simply more efficient to let us all know simultaneously that you’re happy about the sunshiny day or what type of bird you would be …. if you were a bird, and not a friend. That’s when I click Hide.

Lastly, on this Friend thing, despite all my sarcastic and curmudgeonly observations, I have to come clean that whenever I log on to my page I eagerly check the little Friend Request icon, just to see what new PIBK wants to establish a meaningful relationship. It’s like getting a little pat on the back, an atta-boy that makes me feel wanted and loved.

Then I hit Ignore.