Who doesn’t want to be popular? Even if it’s just a small taste. A tiny flicker. And I’m not referring to the superficial popularity of a beautiful face, but rather the feeling you get when someone makes you feel special. It is perhaps as simple as having something about you that is unique and different from the rest of the crowd—in a good way.
I feel extra special today, because I got a new friend request on Facebook. I got really excited…the same way I always do when I get a friend request. It’s like a special delivery from a secret admirer showing up on my doorstep. I absolutely LOVE getting friend requests. Except for the times when I click on it to discover that it was a random person looking for friendship with total strangers. I don’t like those, and I never accept them. That is sort of like being picked for a beauty contest out of the phone book (remember phone books?) How do they know I’m even worth it? What makes them think I would be a good friend? No, I want someone to pick me who has at least some basic knowledge of me—someone who knows who I am, (and how quirky I might be) and still wants to be my friend. It means I’m popular…sort of. It reminds me of that feeling I got in grade school when we were choosing teams in gym class. I never got picked. I was awkward, and shy, and lacking in charisma and personality. Or maybe I just hadn’t learned to cultivate it quite yet. Either way, let’s face it, picking teams for dodgeball was almost always a popularity contest more than anything else. But every now and then, I would get picked early by someone who wanted me on their team, and it was pure elation. Now that I’m grown up, I realize that nothing has really changed. Life is still just one big popularity contest. Anyone who has recently interviewed for a job, or gone on a date could attest to that. So, when I get that friend request it means that someone wanted ME on their team! I’m not nearly as shy or lacking in charisma or personality as I was in high school. In fact, I’m brimming over with charisma and personality to the point that it’s almost an affliction…but that is definitely part of my charm. As far as awkward goes, my inability to walk through a room without tripping over something is legendary, but that has much more to do with balance than social graces, and again…it’s part of my charm. These days I don’t have to worry so much about being picked first for teams—my new found popularity has made me somewhat of a captain—but that doesn’t mean I don’t light up when I see the glowing icon on the screen that signifies a new request to be friends. I have even been known to seek people out, and it is an excruciating wait while they decide if they want you in their cyber circle. Emotions run the gamut between, “do they remember me?” to, “if they remember me do they even want to be my friend?” I have requested my son to be my friend over ten times, only to be rejected every time. The acute pain of rejection doesn’t lessen with time, and I keep trying, hoping that one day he will hit the accept button by mistake and I will be let into his inner sanctum. He assures me that will never happen, but I refuse to give up hope. Until that time, I continue to seek out old friendships to rekindle.
Recently, I have been reconnecting with friends from many years past. Friends I haven’t seen in several decades—and it almost feels like I’ve discovered a means of time travel. Not the sort of time travel that occurs in a DeLorean or a shiny space capsule—I’m talking about the time travel that occurs right here on the internet. On the social networks. On Facebook. I hear people talking all the time about how we’re too connected—too entrenched in the technology. I often joke about how we may actually be living in the Matrix, but every time I feel a twinge of panic when my internet goes down, or when I can’t remember where I left my Blackberry, I come face to face with the fact that I am inextricably immersed in what some call the loss of human interaction. While I don’t completely disagree—I am fairly certain I spend far too much time interacting with cyber chickens and the sort—at the same time, I have conflicting emotions. Without this hyper-connection…this complete submersion in the technology…I would have never reconnected with all the people, friends and family alike, that I had completely lost touch with over the years, people that were once part of my day to day life but for countless reasons had slipped away into virtual obscurity. We don’t live near each other; our lives would not have intersected by the natural course of things. No, it was purely thanks to the miracle of modern technology that we have found each other again, as if we have each stepped into a time machine, pulling us back to a place we have all been before. So to all the people that are now very much present in my life after so many years away, I’m very glad I stepped inside this time machine with you. It has been a wonderful trip! And now that we’ve found each other, let’s not lose touch again. Time travel is somewhat expensive.
Until the next time…I’ll be polishing my DeLorean!