Facebook requests are off the wall

March 26, 2009|By KEVIN COWHERD

The No. 1 question I get from readers these days is "How's the whole Facebook thing working out for you?"

This stems from a column I wrote last month about joining the popular social-networking site, in which I wondered if it were just another Internet time-suck that was too hip for a middle-aged guy.

Anyway, to answer the question, um, I guess it's going OK.

When I wrote that first column, I had only 28 Facebook friends, which is considered pathetic. There are dead people with more than 28 Facebook friends.

But after weeks of promiscuous friending, I'm up to 234, three of whom I actually know.

At first, to be honest, I was friending anyone with a pulse. But it turned out I was getting a lot of friend requests from weirdos.

Sure, sometimes it's hard to tell one weirdo from another on Facebook. But I was getting requests from people sending pictures of themselves in their bathrobes or kissing their pet parrot.

Look, I know times are tough, but I can't be your friend if you won't even get out of your bathrobe to have your picture taken. And parrot-kissing - I totally draw the line at that. (To the guy who sent that picture: You don't need a friend, pal. What you need is professional help.)

So, I was forced to come up with a different set of guidelines for whom to friend.

Eventually, I settled on this: If the requesters said nice things about my column, they were in.

Even if they didn't mean it, even if they really think the column stinks, they had to lie and say they liked it.

Sure, the whole thing smacked of desperation. But it turbo-charged my friends total, and suddenly I wasn't an online leper anymore.

Now when I'm not wasting time on Facebook friending or filling out the inane "What's On Your Mind?" box (What can be on your mind at 7 in the morning? An English muffin?), I'm wasting time sorting through invitations to join various Facebook groups.

I've been invited to join groups as disparate as "Pug Lovers" (I don't own a pug), "Cool Parents Who Have Facebook" (Please, how cool can you be following your kids to a networking site?) and "Join this group and get YOUR NAME in the Guinness Book of Records!"

I've also been asked to join the "We Want Our Old Facebook Back !!!" group and its apparently more militant offshoot, "We Hate The New Facebook, STOP CHANGING IT !!"

So far, the age issue has not been a problem because almost everyone I've met on Facebook is middle-aged.

Trust me, when I log on, there are way too many postings about recipes, laundry issues, hair coloring, home-renovation projects, Neil Diamond songs and teeth-whitening procedures.

No wonder young people are leaving Facebook in droves. If I were 17 and found out my mom and dad were on Facebook, I'd join some ultra-Goth site in a heartbeat. My profile picture would make Marilyn Manson look like Bobby Jindal.

Speaking of which, I initially took a lot of heat for not posting a profile picture on Facebook. But, the fact is, I couldn't figure out how to do it.

"Oh, it's easy!" you say. "All you do is upload a photo and follow the instructions and blah, blah, blah."

Right. Sure. Except you're talking to someone with the computer skills of an 80-year-old Amish man.

Asking me to upload photos is like asking me to program the space shuttle.

Finally I begged Sarah, one of our editors, to help. She was kind enough to not roll her eyes while patiently walking me through the process.

So now there's a photo of me, with the puffy gray helmet of hair and the doughy cheeks and the creepy grin, accompanying my profile. It's the best I can do at the moment.

Still, after just one month on Facebook, I can't help feeling it is already behind the curve.

Maybe a hip guy like me should be on Twitter, the social-messaging site on which you communicate in quick 140-character-or-less bursts and everyone is so constantly connected they're about to go insane.

Yeah, I'll have to give Twitter a shot.

As long as it doesn't ask me to post a picture.

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