Wednesday, August 29, 2012
When Facebook becomes Fakebook
I did something yesterday for which I’m feeling justifiably small: I tried to bust someone for fibbing on Facebook.
It’s not exactly “60 Minutes” going after Big Tobacco, is it.
And I should know better.
Facebook is a perfectly innocuous place where we all go to post our prettiest pictures and give the shared impression we all live in a happy, shiny place free of discord and things that smell, although I’ll bet Zuckerberg’s about to force that function on us all.
It brings old friends and classmates together and connects those with shared interests. In these divisive times, we need more, not less, of that.
So why did I feel instantly compelled to expose what I suspected was deceit?
Because I feared it was being perpetrated in the name of George, one of my all-time very best buddies.
It’s not a stretch to say it was George who taught me how to drink, which means George taught me all I know.
George and I met in the dorms and became fast friends.
I remember sitting in the library that first week bored out of my mind and saying to George, man, we’ve been bearing down on this algebra for 10 excruciating minutes and we still don’t get it. What ever are we going to do?
“Well, we could leave and go to a bar,” he said.
His remark showed a genius Ohio University transcripts failed to detect. The state drinking age at the time was 18. Athens was strewn with bars. He was right. We could go to a bar! And that’s exactly what we did.
And we never left.
He’s the one guy old friends always ask about when they call to catch up. “Have you heard from George?” they’ll ask. “Is he on Facebook?
I talk to him every six months or so. The sound of his laugh takes me back to some of the happiest days in my life. But, no, he’s not on Facebook. He’s too cool for that.
That’s why I was shocked to see a burst of George behaving very uncool on Facebook yesterday. He was posting pictures of his kids, his wife and the captions said things like how much he loved these people.
I thought he only loved me.
I suspected fraud and immediately posted the comment: “If this is really George posting these pictures, then what’s Brad Wiseman’s middle name?”
This was a serious breach of Facebook etiquette. I should have posted, “George, you have a beautiful family! Like! Like! Like!”
But this was George -- and let’s say that’s not his real name and that he’s not married to someone really named Jeannine.
Instantly, one of George’s relatives responded, “Quick, Jeannine, get off the computer and ask George what Brad Wiseman’s middle name is!”
An hour or so went by and finally George typed in the single word “Boner,” which was wrong but Alex Trebek would have accepted. Boner was Brad’s nickname.
Then he came back after about 15 minutes and typed, “Lon,” which was correct. Brad had the uncommon middle name Lon and the nickname “Boner” for reasons I won’t dare reveal.
By now I was beginning to realize feelings were being hurt. So I typed, hey, it was just a little test I conduct to make sure people aren’t using the internet for less than pure purposes. Because no one wants that.
And today I feel bad. I sanctimoniously suspected Jeannine had hacked into George’s computer to make him look even more perfect than he’s always been.
Even worse, just three days ago I perpetrated an even more egregious fraud.
I’ve long been frustrated by my inability to lure more people onto my languishing @8days2amish Twitter account.
In fact, reaching 190 followers last week seemed an opportune time to run a sweepstakes. I tweeted, “Anyone who helps me get to 200 followers by 5 pm gets a free signed copy of “Use All The Crayons!”
The result? By 5 p.m. four once steadfast followers bailed on me. I was down to 186.
So on Sunday I decided to take matters into my own hands. I snuck onto my wife’s laptop and signed her up for a Twitter account so “she” could follow me.
But I didn’t do anything as innocuous as I suspected Jeannine did. No, I really upped the ante.
I signed her up under the user name @ILuvChrisRodell! I figured I could use it for a clearinghouse for things I wish she’d say about me, but has never had the grounds to. Things like: “He’s a spectacular lover! . . . He’s a great provider! . . . He’s, uh, honest!”
And because I wanted to bestow my darling new follower with intellectual superiority, I signed her up to follow Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Ann Coulter -- and me!
And I have the nerve to doubt the authenticity of my old friend’s innocent posts.
So I feel bad about my petty suspicions. Because I @LuvGeorgeNJeannine.
I really, really do.
I’ll swear it on a whole stack of internets.