Not Friending The Famous Poet

Facebook suggests, in its little right-hand sidebar, that A Famous Poet is “Someone I Might Know.” I do know who the The Famous Poet is, and The Famous Poet has recently moved to my region, and Facebook seems so encouraging — like we’re all just one big happy Po-Biz family. I deeply admire the work of The Famous Poet — at first, I can’t believe The Famous Poet is actually on Facebook! Well, The Famous Poet does have a new book coming out. Which I am very happy to hear. Also, it seems like Facebook might know something that I don’t, something about the potential, the possibilities a New Friending might afford here. After all, Facebook made a correct guess, mostly — I definitely know who The Famous Poet is. So I click on the link to The Famous Poet’s Facebook page.

The Famous Poet is new to Facebook, but already has over two hundred friends. Eleven of those Friends are also Friends of mine — “Mutual Friends” that The Famous Poet and I share. Of those eleven Mutual Friends of The Famous Poet and myself, one is actually, truly, a friend of mine. And I believe that person is also, truly, a friend of The Famous Poet. This person is very likely a bona fide friend in common. That’s not nothing. Another of the eleven Mutual Friends is a person I don’t believe I’ve ever met before. This person Friended me some time last year, I think, and lives in the same state, and is also a poet. It’s a small state. Most of us are small poets. Fellow Small Poet and I have sixteen Friends in common. Three of those Mutual Friends are also Mutually Friends with The Famous Poet and Fellow Small Poet and me. Of those Three Mutually Mutual Friends, one is someone from my distant past, one is A Famous Poet I Met This One Time, and one is a local/regional poet I’ve met on several occasions. The Friend From My Distant Past has nearly four thousand Friends. The Fellow Small Poet has about five hundred. I don’t know. I think Facebook is suggesting that I ought to Friend the Famous Poet. Facebook appears to believe this could be a good piece of social networking. So I click “Add Friend.”

In the dialog box that springs up, I get this warning — again, from a Facebook which I think now knows too much, is messing with me a bit: “The Famous Poet will have to confirm your request. Please only send this request if you know The Famous Poet personally.” I am sure I do not know The Famous Poet personally, that is if I still understand what “personal” means. I think I do. But I am sure that some of our Mutual Friends do not know The Famous Poet personally. How can Facebook not know that, too?

Some of the folks recently Friended by The Famous Poet have written on The Famous Poet’s wall things like “I’ve always been a fan, thanks for the add.” The add. The Famous Poet does not have a fan page, but I’ll bet that The Famous Poet (encouraged by a wise Advisor) will create one before too long, to promote the book, to “connect” with people who aren’t actually friends, but fans. I mean, I have a Fan Page, for crying out loud. Because, why not, right? I’m not a Famous Poet, but I and my kind have access to many of the means available to act as if we were Famous Poets, to imagine it so. To post links to our books as if they were available in your bookstore; to announce our readings at the ice cream shoppes, to build our “fan base.” Look how many have “liked” our pages! Facebook is pleased with this.

Andy Warhol would have loved Facebook.

But I digress. I think I know what you’re wondering. (Well, no, first you are wondering who The Famous Poet is, but that’s not what I’m getting at here. And I’ll never tell.) No, I was thinking you were wondering how many Facebook Friends I have, given my apparent interest in such numbers. Fair enough. I have over seven hundred. No, of course they are not all actual friends; a great number of them are former students. Many are friends of friends, colleagues. The great majority are what we used to call Acquaintances. Many of the Not Actually Friends I’ve Ever Met (Personally) are folks who Friended me, who bravely offered the first hand of Friendship across the digital chasm. And I’ll say yes to almost any Friending, even as I intellectualize — are we really friends? What does this mean? What do you want? What do I want? But, on the surface, loudest of all — you want to be my friend and/or Friend? I live to have people want to be my friends. Yes, of course I shall allow you to nibble the digital ambrosia of my Friendship. I write amusing and/or profound status updates. I post thought-provoking links. I tell you what I had for dinner, and sometimes I post a photograph of what I had for dinner.

I wonder what The Famous Poet had for dinner? The Famous Poet has not posted anything yet about dinner. There’s not really very much going on on The Famous Poet’s Facebook wall, which I can see completely, even though I have not been Friended by The Famous Poet. (Probably The Famous Poet is busy actually writing new poems. Don’t think I don’t think about that.) Isn’t the whole point of Friending about allowing access? Or, another way, isn’t the whole point of not Friending about not allowing access? At any rate, I close the dialog box; I have decided not to request that The Famous Poet Friend me, even though I maintain that’s what Facebook wants me to do, even though it’s sending me mixed messages. I am too shy and neurotic. The Famous Poet is too Famous. And none of The Famous Poet’s Facebook real estate has been set to private, as far as I can suss out. So I’ll lurk. I’ll check in on The Famous Poet from time to time, when Facebook reminds me on that little right-hand column that it thinks I might know The Famous Poet.

I wonder if The Famous Poet’s sidebar suggests that The Famous Poet might know me? The Famous Poet won’t be able to find out for sure (via Facebook, anyhow) whether or not we have ever met or been friends, or had Mutual Friends and/or acquaintances, because, unlike The Famous Poet, I have all my Facebook stuff set to private, like any respectable Famous Poet ought to. (Whatever “private” means now. Or “famous.”) What good’s the fame if people can just see your wall, like you’re just anybody, like me?

I’m having pasta with homemade meatballs tonight. Also some good wine, sourdough bread, fresh peach cobbler. I thought you might want to know, whoever you are.