Posted by CFM.
Today, I became a fan of a dung beetle on Facebook.
Apparently, someone thought it would spark revolution if this tiny creature gathered more virtual pals than conservative blow-hard Glenn Beck. Thus far, Glenn Beck is outpacing the dung beetle by about 450,000 fans. It's discouraging, but it's not keeping me up at night, because Facebook is not real.
I am not really a fan of dung beetles.
Dung beetles do not really care if I like them.
I fanned the dung beetle without putting much thought into the decision. I take it for granted that everyone involved realizes my relationship with the dung beetle is fleeting, a momentary announcement to my friends via my profile page, and nothing more.
When it comes to Facebook etiquette, though, there are different expectations for interactions with dung beetles than there are for, say, fathers.
My father friended me on Facebook.
Then he unfriended me.
Then he friended me again.
This is the most I have heard from him in more than 10 years. Our relationship before that wasn’t great, either, after many rocky years during which my parents divorced and remarried various people with whom I did not get along. As I entered adulthood, I made a few efforts to reconnect with my father. I was rebuffed, I gave up and I tried not to think too much about him until he showed up on Facebook.
I really don't give too much thought to out-of-the-blue Facebook friendship advances when they come from casual high school acquaintances I have not seen since I successfully grew out my bangs and learned to walk around without my gaze glued to my shoes. (I don't think those two events are necessarily related, but they did occur at about the same time.)
When a person I barely knew back in those bad, old days of high school casually friends me, I assume that person, like the dung beetle, understands our Facebook connection does not actually make us friends.
I politely accept those requests, flip through my yearbook to place names with the (17-year-old, outdated images of) faces, then forget about these faux friendships until a status update about weather or dinner menus reminds me of these tenuous connections.
All of this is absolutely fine for Facebook friendships with former adolescent acquaintances.
Blood relatives, though, should follow a different set of etiquette rules on Facebook, I think.
A personal message should be required to accompany the family "friend" request.
In the case of my father, something like, "I remember when you were born! What's up?" might be appropriate.
After I accepted my erstwhile parent's foray into Facebook friendship, I wondered about his motives, but also about what he would gather about me from my page.
I'm not a 16-year-old angry girl anymore. But maybe that's not clear from status updates like this one: "Put this on your status if you know someone who deserves a smack in the face with a shovel."
Does a relative who chose not to RSVP to my wedding want to know that my gangsta name is Rebizzle, that I have never gambled in Las Vegas or that I am a member of a group called, "Can this dung beetle get more fans than Glenn Beck?"
But I hope he hangs out in my Facebook photo albums. I hope he sees his three-year-old granddaughter dressed up like a fairy princess for Purim last year, and my younger daughter’s first birthday when she cried even as she shoved cake into her mouth and the two of them bundled up in their warmest clothes to revel in a rare deep South snowstorm. I hope he sees all that and realizes that my little girls are pretty awesome in pictures, but they are way, way better in real life.