Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tales from the House of Glitch #3: The Unfriending



The Unfriending

Alicia took the WIFI for an extra $40 a month but skipped the cable, figuring if there was ever anything on TV that she needed to see, she could find it on the internet and watch it on her laptop, and she was right. On the internet she found much more than mere cable could offer. She found companionship and a sense of community that only got deeper the more she never left the room. She had a major glitch, as did everyone in the House of Glitch, where those without glitches need not show their smug, self-satisfied faces. The internet was Alicia's major glitch. She barely made it to the bathroom, holding it in for as long as she could before putting her online on hold and venturing out of her cozy room into the common hallway to the common bathroom where she might run into someone common with their own major glitch and have to strike up a conversation when really, OMG, she just wanted to pee, she really didn't want to actually talk to someone, not someone with a glitch, not without spell-check, not without the ability to EDIT before SENDING. Speaking involved communication she couldn't take back so she preferred to not even try. Her only real friends were online.

Ed couldn't remember ever friending Alicia on Facebook but it was obviously a mistake. How could he have been so stupid.

At first, all his friends were his actual friends, people he knew, or people who knew people he knew, with an actual verified degree of separation between Ed and everyone on his friend list. Then strangers started showing up, people asking to be friended but with whom he didn't share a friend. He was a popular writer who decided to let in people who were clearly fans of his work and who didn't seem like serial killers, but it was with trepidation because he didn't actually KNOW them. Who knew how they would behave. Friending them meant letting their comments post to his page. He had suffered the horrors of friending two old friends, exes, who were horrified to find themselves back in contact with each other, but what was he to do when both requested to friend him? He had to say yes, which turned out to be a bad idea. Neither wanted each others comments to show up on the other's pages so they both unfriended Ed, who found himself with two less Facebook friends. It hurt.

He had crafted his Facebook friend list to include his version of an intellectual elite, the very people he'd like to materialize into a dinner party at the Ritz where he was the host, introducing raconteurs and wits to each other, then sitting back in astonishment at the quality of the repartee.

One day, it happened, a casual comment had somehow turned into a miracle of banter, a dream conversation about a glitch where everyone got the joke and was riffing on it as if it were real, the ultimate back-and-forth repartee Facebook was meant for, and everyone was participating, even famous people on his friend list who never posted anything. He had gathered just the right combination of literates who ALL got the joke and immediately responded with flash and hilarity, like a New Yorker cartoon where a couple of scientists are convulsing with laughter over some formula that takes up the whole blackboard, in on a joke no one else would ever get but them.

Except for Alicia. She didn't get the joke. She thought it was a serious conversation. The ghost of Alicia's dead mother told her to "Go ahead and post, you're swimming with the big boys, you know what they're talking about, you've got something intelligent to add to the discussion, I mean why not," nagged her mother, "maybe you'll meet someone nice." Alicia responded to Ed's Facebook page as though the conversation were serious and the entire concept being batted back and forth was actually possible instead of completely ridiculous figments of the imaginations of the hand selected group of VERY clever people who were Ed's Facebook friends.

Ed and his friends couldn't believe it. To them, Alicia was a cyber version of Penny, the ditzy next door neighbor of Sheldon and Leonard on The Big Bang Theory, a layman clearly incapable of following their BRILLIANT train of thought. All Ed's Facebook friends could do was make fun of her, and make fun of her they did, reply after reply, hilarious, scathing, wicked, entertaining to everyone but Alicia, who perceived herself as being the butt of all these jokes, not realizing being the butt of a joke can be a good thing if you just play along but she couldn't, she hadn't studied improv, she didn't know the "yes, and" rule, she was in too deep, she couldn't keep up, she had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, she tried to be cute about it, sent an emoticon that clearly represented "aw shucks," but they made fun of the emoticon, piling it on, when suddenly, there it was, in her status. Ed had unfriended her.

After Alicia was found catatonic by one of her glitchy neighbors and removed from the House of Glitch to a state mental institution, the neighbor stole her computer and logged onto her Facebook page, saw the unfriending, and sent Ed a message from his own Facebook page telling him what happened to Alicia. Ed felt so guilty he refriended her. "Unfriending someone is sort of harsh," he said. "I know how she felt, but it was the easiest way to remove her comments from my discussions. Blame Facebook."

Moral: Never listen to your parents.

1 comment:

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