You Are Not My Friend

Ben Stein – Time

Copyright Time
In the pre-internet days, neither of us would have even thought of calling each other friends. We’d have called ourselves friends of friends who met once and yet, for some reason, kept sending each other grammatically challenged, inappropriately flirty letters with photos of ourselves attached. Police might have gotten involved.
But now we’re definitively friends, having taken a public vow of friendship on friend-based websites, wearing metaphorical friendship bracelets on the earnest Facebook, the punky MySpace, the careerist LinkedIn and the suddenly very Asian Friendster. As if that wasn’t enough friendship for you, some of you have also asked me to be friends on the nerdy Twitter, the dorky-élitist Doostang and the Eurotrashy hi5. You message me and comment about me and write on my walls and dedicate songs to me and invite me to join groups. More than once you have taken it upon yourself to poke me.
This is hard to say to a friend, but our relationship is starting to take up too much of my time. It’s weird that I know more about you than I do about actual friends I hang out with in person–whom I propose we distinguish by calling “non-metafriends.” In fact, I know more about you than I know about myself. I have no idea what my favorite movie or song or TV show is. Last I checked, they all involved Muppets.
Also, you’re a bit aggressive in our friendship. Would a non-metafriend call me up and say, “Hey! Guess what? I have a bunch of new pictures of me”? Or tell me he’d colored in a map of all the places he’d ever been? Or inform me, as Michael Hirschorn did in his Facebook status update, that he “is not making decisions; he’s making surprises”? It’s as if I suddenly met a new group of people who were all in the special classes.
The horror is, I can’t opt out. Just as I can’t stop making money or my non-metafriends will have more stuff than I do, I can’t stop running up my tally of MySpace friends or I’ll look like a loser.
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