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Are You Fawn Germer’s Friend? Check “Yes” or “No”

In my quest to succeed at online social networking, I have diligently amassed hundreds of friends on my Facebook page and I cannot stop. If you have not received a request to be one of Fawn Germer’s friends, please send one to me.

I’m thrilled to be hooked up with my old friends from Sunday school and see how wildly successful everyone is. I joke that I’m the “loser” in the bunch. I love how many people have come back to life after getting lost in my high school yearbook. It is great how many of my old newspaper colleagues are reconnecting and giving me updates and commiserating about the demise of our industry. And how cool is it that I can now see every last photo of every person I ever dated — with their spouses, children and (gasp!) grandchildren?

Here’s what amazes me. There are a handful of people that I did not enjoy knowing twenty years ago who have asked me to be their Facebook friends. Being the good social networker, I have accepted them. But, we are actually e-mailing each other, as if we like each other.  And I am starting to wonder. Do we like each other now? The last time I talked with one of these individuals was twenty years ago when the person (who was an editor in training) screamed at me — and I mean screamed — from the other side of the newsroom because I chose to kill a story rather than break a deal with a source. We never even made eye contact after that, but now we are friends. I think.

I have asked people I did not like to accept me as their friends, too, and they did. Now I like them because of it.

There were two people who I used to think were friends who ignored my friend requests. Such an online snub might be a little bruising to the ego if not for the fact that the whole notion is so ridiculous. So junior high! Is Fawn your friend? Check yes or no! I just have to laugh. I was talking about this with my friend Kelly Hickman who told me she had suffered something worse than being ignored. She’d experienced the indignity of being “defriended” by someone after they pretended to accept her.

It really is lovely catching up. The problem is, I don’t have any more time for my real friends. I’m gawking at the latest dish on people who slipped from my life, mostly unnoticed. Why go out for face-to-face conversation if you can stare into a screen and have six hundred friends right beside you, updating you on the minutae of their day, tagging you in unflattering photos and asking you to join I Can’t Believe I Wear Braces In College or the Fat Girls of West Point UNITE groups?

This post is too long. It is interfering with my Facebook time.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of five books. Her latest book, Finding the UP in the Downturn, will be released in April. She speaks to corporations and organizations that want more creative and courageous performance from their people. She does this with the lessons learned in hundreds of interviews for her best-selling books, one of which was featured on Oprah.

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