02 December 2008

Collect Them All

The Facebook notice came in the e-mail, as all of them innocuously do. Upon opening it, I was startled to see a name of a high school classmate I'd not seen (or thought about) in a long, long time. She ran in different circles than I did, had different friends than I did, and generally had nothing in common with me then other than the fact we were both well-cared for (as private school students usually are)carbon based life forms.
"SO-AND-SO wants to be your friend!" the message cheerfully told me.
I opened the e-mail. I went to my Facebook account, and looked at the former classmate's profile. With the exception of the general flabbiness that the past decade has given to nearly all of us, she looked very much as I remembered.
My eyes narrowed.
I moved my mouse over to the "deny" button near a small picture of her vacant, smiling face. I clicked without thinking twice.

I am not to be collected.

Social media is an interesting thing. When MySpace first came out, there were no real rules when it came to deciding which people made the cut and which didn't. With Facebook, the criteria has narrowed. A lot. Thanks to Facebook, I've been able to skip all of my reunions because I've found out who got fat, who failed and who turned out to be the diamond in the rough we'd never imagined. I've been able to reconnect with old friends, amend old injuries, and find that I didn't turn out so badly after all. It's been a mostly positive experience.
However, in moments of weakness, e-mails from those I call "collectors" still bring me down. It's enough to make me ask - you didn't like me then, so why are you bothering now? Now it's OK that we have an association? Now, when we're on an equal digital playing field, you want to be my friend? No thanks. You missed your chance. Most anything connected with that time in my life (which I've written enough about) is something I'd like to forget. I'll put it this way - I like the way I turned out, but I would never want to put anyone else on the road that lead to this point in time.
So, to all the collectors out there, save your mouse moves; I'm not a name on a list, a flag on a map, or piece of the puzzle. If we weren't friends before, don't expect us to be now. It's just easier that way.

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