Call me old-fashioned, but one of the things I dislike about Facebook is that the term ‘friend’ has now become a verb. Apparently, using the correct word, ‘befriend’, is hopelessly uncool, because whenever I make this observation in public, people tend to roll their eyes.
To hell with them. I’m using it anyway.
Technically speaking, even the term ‘Facebook’ is not entirely accurate. If it’s supposed to be a book of faces, why are there so many grey heads? Real human faces should be required in profiles, and they should be the actual faces of the actual members at their actual current ages, not pictures of pets, boats, cars, your new baby or cartoon images of your face.
I joined Facebook at the behest of my children, who thought it would be a good idea if I joined the 21st century. Kicking and screaming, I signed up and, being a cyberdolt, it took me three weeks to figure it out.
At first, I limited my befriending to members of my family and a few close friends. Then I befriended a few old girlfriends in order to see whether they’d deteriorated as much as I have. Soon, I found myself befriending old classmates, and it spiralled from there. My current crop of friends now includes many people who have had profound effects on my life, such as the dentist who administered my first root canal and my brother-in-law’s sister’s accountant’s wife.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I now have about 400 friends, most of whom I either don’t know or have been trying to avoid for years. The problem is, Facebook etiquette seems to dictate that it’s rude to ask a person who the hell they are before befriending them. The problem with that is, there’s a chance, albeit slim, that I may be befriending a terrorist or a paedophile, and one day a pair of dour FBI agents will appear at my front door.
There are, however, several distinct types of Facebookworms who I try to avoid – although for some reason they seem to mysteriously appear in my feed, which is really just an endless cyber laundry chute. A few examples:
1 People who feel compelled to share the most insipid daily occurrences of their lives. These are usually the same people who find it necessary to exhibit 6,000 photos of themselves doing nothing of any consequence. I mean, do I really need to see 12 photos of Becky standing drunkenly at a bar with two of her friends, or six shots of Mitch holding up a dead fish? And who cares if you put your shirt on backwards this morning, or if your son Timmy collects tree bark, or if your dog Muffy drinks toilet water? Anything short of Muffy getting the Nobel Prize is not interesting to me.
2 People who use emoticons. Sorry, I’m not in fourth grade any more. I hated smiley faces and now I have to deal with emoticons, which are basically the same thing, only now I have to bend my neck sideways to interpret them. We have something called ‘language’ now, folks, and emoticons are basically hieroglyphics. It took centuries for mankind to progress from symbols to words and here we are, back to symbols.
3 People who use LOL or one of its more complex offshoots such as ROTFL. If you write LOL after something that’s not funny, it won’t help to make it funny. If you write LOL after something that is funny, it’s redundant. Most LOL users are not funny, and type it in because they’re insecure and need to make sure their correspondent knows they’re just kidding and therefore won’t be insulted. And let’s face it, nobody rolls on the floor laughing except annoying small children and people in straitjackets.
4 People who poke me. Does poke mean a gentle elbow to my ribcage or does it involve a sharp stick and one of my eyes?
So why am I on Facebook? Simple. Because I need something to laugh at every day with my morning coffee. Facebook is a curmudgeon’s paradise.
A version of this article first appeared on HuffPost50