One of the unmitigated facts of using Facebook is that people will come out of the woodwork.  My dear mother was thinking about signing up but hesitated, afraid that she wouldn’t have very many people to chat with, considering how long she’d been out of touch with schoolmates.  Don’t worry, I assured her, they’ll find you.  (No, say it slowly like it’s a threat: They. Will. Find. You.) 

In some ways, this bloodhound-like ability of old acquaintances to sniff you out online is really handy.  And most importantly, it’s a fantastic way for lazy communicators like me to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances I don’t see on a regular basis anymore.  It’s cool to see pictures of their kids (aside from the fact that’s it’s a serious mindsmurf that people my age are married and have children, especially when the last time I saw some of these people, they were kids themselves and trying to get away with things they’ll never let their kids get away with), vacations and special events I’m no longer close enough to them to witness in person.  It takes the guess work out of those “hey, whatever happened to…” conversations.  However, the flip side of this is that there generally is a reason why you haven’t kept in contact with all those people from your past. 

I used to just accept every friend request that came my way (from people I’ve actually heard of, that is), because it’s easy and harmless, and it often leads to connections with other people through them.  But then I started assessing who some of these people were.  Why, I had to ask myself, do I want to be friends, even in an imaginary, easily disconnected way, with someone who ditched me after elementary school to acquire cooler friends in junior high?  Do I really need to read status updates from someone whom I increasingly loathed sitting next to for one interminable semester? 

I suppose there’s a sick fascination of the same sort that compels people to attend high school reunions or gawk at car wrecks.  You want to know who got married, who had kids, who got fat.  Let’s be honest here: you want to use these people as a gauge to determine how well you’re doing in your own life.  “Sure,” you might say, “I may not be in a serious relationship right now, but at least I haven’t already gotten divorced!”  This is when I have to remind myself that I’m finally at a place in my life where the activities of my peers have no bearing on my existence.  The best status updates, and the only ones that really matter, are generally conferred in person, preferably over pizza and pitchers and the occasional really terrible round of bowling.  As for the others?  There’s a reason we used to be friends.