For years, I avoided Facebook. With all of my most intimate thoughts splayed out there in the form of Google-able essays I'd written over the years, did I really need to put my smiling face on display as well?
And then last month, I came face to face again with those irresistible, blue, little boxes. "Okay, it can't hurt to sign-up — I'm just not going to get too involved," I told myself, sounding like someone trying to negotiate their first hit of smack. I put up a photo and befriended a handful of friends. But then from that small number of people, others somehow sniffed me out. Friends of friends, people in my writing group, a publicist friend of my boyfriend's who I wasn't sure I even liked. "I thought you were anti-Facebook," said one in a message. "What are you doing on the internet?" another wrote on my Wall. I may have been late to pledge, but I was determined not to surrender myself to Facebook's gentle prodding to overshare. And then on Tuesday, while brainstorming for column ideas, a new message and friend request appeared. It was from a high school acquaintance I hadn't seen in 10 years and who, vaguely, I recalled having a crush on me. Dubious as to what he could possibly have to say, I screwed up my face in an attempt to recall his. Was it possible he still thought about me after all of these years?"M - I was sitting at a friends house reminiscing about high school and your name randomly was mentioned, so I came back home and facebooked you! HOW COOL! :) How have you been? What's news with you? Hope all is well! I see you're New York now - great city to live in! Alright, well hit me back. :) " I analyzed the message: 4 exclamation points, 2 smiley faces, 1 misspelling. I pressed reply: "Hey - Sorry to disappoint if you were hoping to find me a fat, alcoholic divorcee," I began before erasing it, realizing the dry humor might be mistaken. But I was suspicious. We had never been friends and I couldn't help but wonder if there was something more. "He probably googled you and wants to get laid," giggled a friend I had called to debate the merits of responding. I tried to reconcile the shy 14-year-old girl I was with the woman I'd become -- a sex journalist who penned essays about sexercising and nude yoga. "No, I'm probably just reading way too much into this," I countered, before hanging up and typing out a safe -- albeit boring -- reply. Later that day came another reply, loaded with more exclamation points, a few details about himself, and an invitation to "do lunch," written in statement form only -- surely a sign that I was being online-cruised. "I just don't get the randomness," I said out loud to the cat. I contemplated calling our "1 Friend in Common" and getting her take on the situation, but instead told him to email me when he was in town and tacked on: "So, wait, I'm curious: who was talking about me all these years later? How did I come up again?" I wasn't sure why I cared, but still checked my inbox later that day, expecting a response. Nothing. I logged on and self-consciously examined my photo. I be-friended a few more friends to boost my count. Maybe I had answered too quickly. Even though I was successful, 24-year-old Manhattanite with a boyfriend with whom I shared an apartment and several plants, I was feeling insecure and twitchy. It was high school all over again. "I'm giving him two more days to respond, and then that's it," I announced to the cat. The two days passed. (And although he did have time to post a video, evidently there wasn't any time to respond.) I contemplated posting a passive aggressive status update, like the 32-year-old friend who had written that she "hated everyone she knew." But instead of dwelling, I summoned all of my grown-up rationale and accepted the interaction for what it was: High school with a mouse pad.
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