Like most Americans of my age, I have spent the better part of the new year winnowing through the names of my Facebook friends—separating the wheat from the chaff, as it were. But for every one name that gets the heave-ho, I get countless friend requests from “People You May Know.”
There is little-to-no chance of my actually knowing any of these prospective friends. Do I want to know them? I’m not sure.
Most of us have no clue about the friends with which we share personal stories, videos of “epic fails” by men (mostly) doing exceptionally dumb stunts that in a just world would have proved fatal, and cute videos of puppies and kittens being, well…puppies and kittens.
But how does one say goodbye after several years of not knowing someone? And how does one select replacements to keep one’s friend list at full capacity?
The most obvious of ways to edit the friend list is to wait for them to post something they might have heard on Fox News. Just this week, I gave the boot to eleven people who sided with Putin and Trump regarding the invasion of Ukraine. Those individuals don’t have even the slightest notion about genius, and they have no quarter in my book. Then I resolved to excise from the list anybody who mentions “face mask” and “freedom” as an either/or proposition.
The arduous task of picking new friends I’ll never know and denying other applicants to my inner circle is a sticky wicket, potentially. Rules must be established, procedures followed.
I find myself initially relying on the pseudoscience of phrenology. There are two ways to approach what might be closely akin to astrology. First, there is the notion that the bumps on one’s skull are used to predict mental traits. This version is based on the concept that the brain—the functional organ of the mind—has localized and specific functions.
Some might find that to be a load of crap, without even mentioning the left-brain, right-brain functions that presumably decide if one is going to be a mathematician or a busker.
A second approach involves the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as an indication of character and mental abilities.
When selecting Facebook friends, the latter approach is the one to be used because the first requires a tactile search of the head of somebody you don’t know. Unless you find yourself on a crowded subway and just happen to recognize the person from his FB “Profile” picture, that groping of one’s scalp may result in being denied assignment to the Federal Court of Appeals. That latter approach seems unlikely in that few people use a picture of the backs of their heads as profile shots.
The profile, when properly displayed, is our next line of approach for making new friends. It’s usually a picture of somebody projecting an image of what they want to be known for. The under-25 crowd tends to dress in black; their gaunt faces reflecting the angst under which they suffer without knowing the meaning of the word “angst.” The over-70 crowd tends to wear odd outfits while showing themselves to being active, which typically entails holding up a cocktail under a beach umbrella.
Some people show as their profile picture exotic animals. Why? If I relate a person’s image with the image of, let’s say, a hippopotamus, what exactly am I to draw from that?
Others, that I’ve seen, are of frogs, turtles, various birds, tetra fish, dwarf horses, Vietnamese pigs, roosters, and Frank Zappa. Except for Zappa, they are all kind of cute in their own peculiar ways. But as a profile?
The next part of the profile of potential friends involves how many friends we have in common. If I find that we have 236 friends in common, I click on the number and a display of 236 names pops up. I scroll through the list and discover that I don’t know a single one of our 236 friends in common. At that point, I might randomly select a name from the list and discover that Suzanne Schwartz and I have 153 friends in common, none of whom I recognize as friends.
This process can last for weeks.
If I choose to investigate a little further, I merely click on what’s-his-name’s profile picture to discover that he likes to take photographs of French pastries to display on his page. It’s a welcoming gesture but it does not facilitate my eating any of the French pastries which, as we all know, is much better than seeing a picture of those delicacies somebody else probably ate–specifically, the guy, whom I’ll call Glen, who ate them and chose to lord it over the rest of us. He is not a desirable friend, even virtually.
Because of my unfortunate experiences with the likes of Glen, I will not entertain the possibility of an FB friend who has fewer than 250 mutual friends. Nor will I delve deeper into those whose profile pictures involve food, especially food that during its transition from life to death includes pictures of said transition. If you’re a catch-and-release fly fisher, for instance, the fish will have died by the time the photographer finds the focus control on his phone.
Pictures of dead deer, elk, moose, and antelope, with the rifle nestled into the grasp of the antlers, just seems inappropriate. I’ve shot three of those species and having a picture of me smiling behind my quarry would be as distasteful as having a picture of me and my smiling face standing next to my grandmother’s casket.
Some easy ways to dispense with potential FB friends is to pay close attention to the names of those belonging to the Lonely Hearts Club which, in all reality, is what Facebook is. Suzy Serendipity, Winter Storm and Gayle Force and arguably fake names, as well as Rocky Beach who married Sandy.
I won’t befriend anybody who has to use a significant other or a child in the Profile. I don’t know why, but it seems a prudent decision.
It’s early Sunday, but I’m almost late for a chat session with 35 of my most revered friends. I think the subject has something to do with something that someone thought was important. Maybe.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Deruni (potato pancake)
It seems that it might be nice to share a Ukrainian recipe. Like in most eastern European countries, the potato pancake is a dietary staple. Cheap and easy-to-make, Deruni, is not much different from latkes.
2 cups grated russet potatoes, squeezed dry
2 eggs, well beaten
2 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ small onion, grated
Mix all ingredients well and form into 3” to 4” pancakes. Fry in vegetable shortening until brown and crisp. Drain on a rack and serve warm. Traditionally, they are served with sour cream.