Sassy Is: Wondering What the Hell to Do about Her Facebook Account

“Are you on Facebook?” Nearly every friend I have has asked me this question in the last year. The answer is a very hesitant “Yes…” followed by qualifiers like, “I haven’t completed my profile yet,” or “I haven’t logged in in ages,” or “The whole thing just overwhelms me.” My friends give me advice for how to manage my Facebook life, and I always tell them I’ll follow it. And then I don’t.

The reason why it overwhelms me can be summed up in two words: high school. My parents sent me to a tiny (my class at its height had nineteen students) Christian school where my life was a living hell from fourth grade on until I went to college. The school discouraged honest intellectual thought (I actually was taught creation and creation only in science classes, and history was referred to at times as “His Story”), and from the time we were but little children, teachers taught us that we were essentially sinful creatures and that without a “solid grounding in biblical values,” we would be lost to “The World.” Our bodies were our mortal enemies, and teachers spanked us when we did something out of line. We girls were taught that we were to submit to our future husbands and that the only reason for us to go to college was to either become teachers or suitable “helpmeets” for our husbands. Girls who got pregnant were expelled.

I never fit in at this schoool. My mind was an active one, and skepticism came naturally to me. Although I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, engage in fornication, or admit to anyone but me that I wasn’t a Christian until after high school, my inner rebellion must have triggered suspicion from teachers and fellow students (not to mention my parents, who treated me as though I was just chomping at the bit to do all of these things at once, every second of every day).

In such a stifling environment, I went from being a happy, friendly popular kid to a sullen, painfully shy outcast. It did not help matters any that I had a woman’s body and look from the time I was twelve years old, and between that and what one teacher describes as “wisdom beyond her years” (along with the slam, “I hope she isn’t ‘Worldy wise’”), boys stayed away from me. Until my senior year, when some other classmates realized that our school was a bizarre and unhealthy place, I had nary a friend. It truly amazes me after that experience, two of my closest friends are from that school. Even still, we didn’t become close friends until we went away to college.

Those two friends, however, are it. Except for a couple of reunions, I haven’t seen or spoken to most of my high school classmates since 1991. And that’s fine with me. High school was a long time ago, and I have moved on. I wish my fellow high school classmates nothing but the best in their lives. That doesn’t mean, however, that I want to be friends with them on Facebook.

When I joined Facebook, at the behest of one of my high school friends, I listed only my college and graduate school, hoping to avoid the alumni of my high school. I tested the Facebook waters gently. My real name is a very common one, and so I didn’t post a picture, thinking that it would keep most people from finding me. I filled in my religion as “Agnostic,” not meaning that I still held out some possibility of the existence of the Christian god, but instead that I was not willing to rule out the existence of a spiritual world beyond the physical one. My limited profile done, I friended the one high school friend, and a few other close friends, and figured that if that went well that I would then fill in the rest of my profile and join the wonderful world of Facebook in earnest.

My plan didn’t work. I logged back into my Facebook account the next day and found that I had two friend requests from high school classmates. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted their invitations, and that’s when all hell broke loose. I’ve gotten invites from so many alumni that I’m afraid to check the account again.

Here’s what I don’t understand about Facebook: Why do these people want to be my “friend” now? We weren’t friends then, and I highly doubt that we would be friends if we were to meet up again in “real life.” That’s OK. I have no need for these people’s acceptance now, and I’m sure they are doing just fine not knowing my relationship status, what I do for work, or how I pass my time. I’d rather let them fade gently into my past than have to contend with their strange offers of friendship in my present.

All of this is to say that I’m in a bit of a quandary. There are people I’d like to keep in contact with on Facebook, including old college friends, and friends I know now whose updates would amuse me. I know that a presence on Facebook can help me professionally. But I don’t want to rehash high school over and over again. I don’t want invitations to join “All the Christians on Facebook.” I don’t want to read endless updates from people who spend all day doing quizzes and finding Easter Eggs. I already blog, twitter, meet dates, e-mail friends all day, and network for jobs online. Even if I didn’t have this dilemma, I think that adding Facebook to the mix could send me over the edge. So what to do?

I’m not sure, but I’m beginning to feel like I need to make a decision. I suppose if I do want the benefits of Facebook, then the most honest thing to do would be to “un-friend” those high school classmates I no longer wish to know, and restrict the activities of a few others. As one of my real friends said, anyone who knows me well already knows about this weird chapter in my life, and that their presence in my Facebook life doesn’t reflect on me. So maybe I should just bite the bullet and jump in. Or, maybe I should just delete my profile and disappear.

What about you? Do you have people crawling out of the woodwork of your past to request your friendship on Facebook? Are you one of those people who goes looking for everyone you ever knew? How do you handle your Facebook life?

18 responses to “Sassy Is: Wondering What the Hell to Do about Her Facebook Account

  1. I am loath to employ a sweeping generalisation, but Facebook is for losers.

    Unless you genuinely believe that you are putting yourself at a potential employment disadvantage, I would delete the crap out of that motherfucker. If people who you like want to talk to you then they can phone you up. If there’s a picture that you really need to see, they’ll mail it to you. If freaky Christian weirdos from school want to stalk you, let them put in the leg work.

    Saying all that, if you decide to go ahead with it, I suggest changing your religion to Blood Sacrificing Pict.

  2. Gimme, I thought the same thing about Facebook for years. Then every friend I have joined up. So, it could still be for losers, but I happen to like a few of the losers on there. I’m not sure how much of a disatvantage it is not to be on Facebook, but employment gurus everywhere talk about how you need to be on there (but not have anything compromising on your site—and how fun can that be?). If I do decide to go for it, I will indeed change my religion to Blood Sacrificing Pict. Excellent suggestion.

  3. Maybe I’m a recluse by nature, but the whole idea of Facebook and other networking sites kind of skeeve me out a little bit.

    Having said that, I joined classmates a while back and that’s just weird. People visit my profile and I get notes about it, but some of them I don’t know or don’t remember. Then I saw the names of a couple of people I DO remember and would like to get in touch with, they’ve visited my profile, and signed my ‘guest book’, but I’ve sent e-mails and gotten no reply. What’s THAT about?

    Anyway, I have no answer for you. I think between blogging and having 3 e-mail addresses, plus the 6 degrees of separation thing – anyone who wants to find me can find me without drinking the kool aid of Facebook.

    There are professional networking sites you can use (I’ll get you the name of the one SPOUSE is on) to make professional connections and float resumes and stuff. But Facebook always seemed to me more for ‘in-crowd’ networking and teenage bullying than anything else.

  4. pfft…..I have more friends on bakebook than I have in real life…I get invited to more parties, events, and social gatherings than in real life and it’s so much easier than going outside……but I swear to god all the poking gets on my tits something shocking…….

  5. I joined, mostly as a way to goof around and share pictures with my younger siblings. I don’t “friend” (as if that’s a verb) people from high school or college. If they find me, that’s fine; but I don’t go looking for people. And, since it’s certainly not anonymous, I don’t ever post anything I wouldn’t want my mother, a patient, or an employer to see.

  6. I recently pulled the plug on FB. It got so maddening and ‘busy’ with all that stupid shit. Can you kill it and create another work/business oriented profile?

    I added people who wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire. They needed to be told ‘fuck off’.

  7. You have already put too much into something that is silly and insignificant. It’s simple: If you don’t like it, it makes you uncomfortable and it stresses you out, close your damned Facebook account and call it a day. It’s ok to walk away. Trust me, no one will notice except for the few of your Facebook friends who know you well enough to have your phone number anyway. And if they take issue with it, “unfriend” them in real life. They are douch-bags.

    Respectfully submitted from the peanut gallery.

  8. It amazes me how similarly we were raised. I still shudder at the phrase “helpmeet.” ew

    There are people from my high school years I don’t want to be connected with, so I haven’t listed my maiden name. The only people from those years who I’ve connected with are people I’ve gone looking for like funny kids from the trombone section or a neighbor girl who was really smart and nice and who didn’t know the phrase “helpmeet.”

    I think you should be honest—unfriend the people you don’t want to know anymore and ignore the requests you don’t care for. They’ll forget they even asked and will move on—after they pray for you.

  9. What’s Facebook?

  10. Andraste, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know about those networking sites. I’m already on LinkedIn, but I could always use some more.

    Manuel, I really need to get outside. I’m turning pale. :)

    Hangar Queen, I’ve been leaning toward pulling the plug, but I really do like hearing from people I like. The little notes can be really funny. That said, I don’t know if it’s worth it to have to deal with the rest.

    Fresh Hell, Peanut Gallery comments duly noted. One of the things that’s kept me on there is your lovely gallery of men.

    Robyn, it is scary, isn’t it? Alas, I don’t have a maiden name, so I can’t hide behind another name. I like your suggestion, and I’ll think about it.

    Dive, you don’t even want to know.

  11. Oh, sorry, Terroni! Didn’t mean to forget you. Isn’t the verb “friend” vexing? I hate it almost as much as I hate “texted.” That said, I have to keep up with the young people lingo if I want to get ahead in the world. Or whatever.

  12. Lessee, I did just about the same thing. I kept in touch with those I wanted to keep in touch with and damned if several I couldn’t care less about didn’t want to be friends on Facebook.

    Sigh, now they are planning a 80s high school reunion in the park 6 blocks from my house and keep tagging me even though I don’t answer them.

    I haven’t gone to any of those reunions, not sure I want to start now. Actually,I know I don’t want to start now…

    Although there are a couple of people that found me that I really am grateful for. My best friend up until 6th grade when she ended up going to the private catholic school and I never saw her again. I’m glad she found me.

    But some of the others? They haven’t changed. I can tell from their profiles. I have no desire to chat it up with them.

  13. Hi! Found your blog through Universal Hub, I think. I’ve been enjoying your posts the last few weeks.
    If you decide not to break up with Facebook, you can set up subsets of friends within the group of friends that you have. Then you can change your settings for what you see or don’t see from them (and what people can see about you) for each group. I haven’t done it but I know people who have. Hope that helps.
    PS-I agree that the word “friend” is a noun, not not a verb.

  14. Hey, Zirelda! Good to hear from you. The whole reunion thing is just so weird that I think a lot of people turn it into more than what it is. For me, Facebook is like a never-ending reunion.

    Welcome, Ryssee! Thanks for commenting, and I’m happy to hear you like my blog. Your suggestion is the one people have often given me. Maybe someday if I’m feeling inspired, I’ll try it. Or not.

  15. I have no qualms about ignoring a friend request or even deleting a friend from the list – one good thing about Facebook is that they won’t get notified if you do either- it’s totally up to you who you want on it!

  16. is sassy wondering what to do with her blog too? huh….

  17. Yesterday I received a surprise email on my university account asking in the subject line if I went to a particular M.A. program. It was a woman I shared an office with for a year in the awful program filled with bitches who led me to develop insomnia and irritable bowel disease. Why would she think I’d have any interest in her life eight years later? Then she asked if I had a Face Book account. Fuck no. I don’t need the noise.

  18. I’ll admit it. I’m a total internet whore. It’s like being a crack whore, I suppose, but the Internet doesn’t cuddle afterward.

    I have Facebook. And Linked In. And LiveJournal, and MySpace (you see where this is going, right?). For me, though, there’s a modicum of meaning to all this: social networking for the purpose of offering many entry points to meeting me as rubicat.

    For Facebook, I play Lexulous (read: Scrabble-like thing) with friends. I deftly avoid all the wacked-out fundamentalists and quiz addicts. I think it’s ludicrous to spend time on something that’s going to tell me what ’80s hair band I would be or what flavour margarita I most like.

    But when it comes to meeting people and seeing what snippets of wisdom I actually care about from certain friends…. what the hell, right?

    Oh, my two cents: Do what you like. Screw the rest. :)

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