When Facebook Runs Out Of A Name

Promised yesterday at work that I would friend Andrew Thomson. (Odd to me that ‘friend’ has become a verb). Always half-exhausted when I get home but I dutifully went to Facebook and typed Andrew’s name into the search engine, only to find that there were 500 of the same name, mostly residing in Edinborough.
Of course he hadn’t told me what his profile picture looked like. Or if he had one. There are a number of A. Thomsons with no picture, giving them that ghost look beloved of those who are so suspicious of the net that they give it absolutely no information while stoically remaining on it anyway.
Being a woman of my word, I painfully scrolled through all 500 and then some, even to the point where the Andrew THOMSONS get so thin upon the ground that they become Courtlands and even Smiths (the way Facebook has of telling you they have run out of the name you’re seeking but here’s some leftover names you might like too. The way a grocery store lures you to other brands. (‘Why not friend this Andrew Limekist? He’s probably just as good as the Andrew Thomson you can’t find’). I suppose, if I pressed them, they’d say they’re getting a new stock of Andrew Thomsons in, next week.
While I was Thomsoning, I ran across John Barlow (The Overversion Blog) analyzing Ann Coulter’s non-appearance and self-proclaimed martyrdom at the University of Ottawa. My mind went right back to the time at my Univesity when the head of the American Nazi party came to speak on campus. Wonder if it even exists now?
At any rate, this was in the sixties, that time where revolution was being explored, (before Facebook made revolution impossible, with everyone indoors pecking at their keyboards. If they’d had Facebook in the French Revolution, the guillotine would have been unneccessary, the masses simply flaming them out on the net) – but I digress.
The head of the American Nazi party spoke and we all listened relatively quietly. Heckling hadn’t become an art form then and nobody had a camera phone. I remember his black leather uniform with chains and insignia was very impressive, as though it were wearing the weedy individual inside. His last name was ‘Rockwell,’ I think. Don’t remember his first, nor his words which were simply boring and repetitive. Perhaps he wrote his own speech, bereft of ideas and simply uninspiring. The best thing the university could’ve done was let him talk. His talk was a spectacular non-event and students drifted away well before he was finished.
Meanwhile, the town, which was outraged, cancelled the lines of credit of every professor on campus, meaning they would have to either pay cash (salaries weren’t great in those days) or go over the Cascade mountains to shop, either west to Seattle or east to Spokane.
The concept of simply letting the idiots speak seems to have dropped out of favour these days. Students aren’t stupid. Ann Coulter would have bombed as thoroughly as Rockwell did that day.
As an afterword, I was offline two days this week. I returned to only 111 messages, 75% of them Facebook. The downtime made me reconsider whether or not my goal of friending to 5000 is truly worth it. If it is just a numbers game or something more? After all, I could’ve simply friended as many of the Andrew Thomsons as Facebook would allow, yesterday, then come back today and friended the rest. If I am not looking for quality but only quantity, that would put me well over 3000.
The thing is, I really like a great many of the new faces I’ve friended, people I simply would’ve known nothing about if I hadn’t done so. I really enjoy hearing from all the small presses, (with the exception of the Good Samaritan Anthologizing one which does not say it is a Vanity, Self-publisher until you get well into it. This sort of enterprise must be honest or it is doomed to be shunned. By me, anyway).
So am I going to stay the course that Facebook never intended as a goal and friend 5000 new people, presses and projects in the months leading up to June? Ii promised myself I’d stop in the summer and go sit outside in my garden and receive renku (short haiku) from the neighbours to plant on bamboo stakes in my garden, among the poppies, a much worthier enterprise if only because it is real.

1 Comment


  1. Love the inside of your head. There is a whole different world there. In mine too.
    Lesley

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