I recently resurfaced on Facebook after lying low for a year or so. Participating in social media no longer really feels optional if you want to see people, that’s where they went. I’ve also been fascinated lately by the way the new media are changing our relationships with our own histories. Never before has it been so easy to reconnect with your past, or so hard to escape it. And friending acts as a great leveler: ex-boyfriend = current book-club pal = your best friend in grade school = your mom. You have no idea what kind of person that former girlfriend the one who eviscerated you in public and left you for dead really is now, but there she is, posting recipes and kindergarten graduation pix as if nothing ever happened. None of these quasi-connections need feel any realer or more important than the "Which kind of dryer lint are you?" quizzes and exchanges of virtual knickknacks. That moment when her name first pops up in your Facebook e-mail, though, that’s as real as a sucker-punch to the solar plexus, and can feel quite similar. What happens after that is the story. If you’ve got a good Facebook reunion tale, please share it with the class. Here’s the first one:
I Facebooked my high school boyfriend. I received a warm response and an update. He has a wife and kids and a finance career that sounds kind of sleazy. Way back, he was rich and I was from the wrong side of the tracks.
He PM’d me his phone number. I really had no interest in calling him, but I gave him mine, thinking if he really wants to talk to me, he can call. I’m married and have two kids and really didn’t care.
He called twice. I was surprised, but kind of enjoyed the conversations. I think my life now is a lot more interesting than his, and I’m doing just as well as he is. In high school it was always that he was going to go on to great things and I was just going to be a housewife (he told me this once). Now he sounds kind of out-of-control and I am quite satisfied with my life.
Also he’s cheating on his wife, pretending to be single on online dating sites. Oddly, it sounds like he’s picking up working-class girls, like I was, which is weird for me. He says he doesn’t want a divorce. I told him that sneaking behind his wife’s back is wrong. I told him he should write to you although I doubt he will (and you’d hang him).
I definitely need to break the contact. But, you have no idea how empowering it is to find out I have, on my terms, a BETTER life than he has.
This is sleazy, isn’t it?
PS: OMG! When I turned down an invitation to come visit while his wife was out of town, he de-friended me!
It used to be a lot harder to de-friend people when they had to actually be your friend first and then you had to break up with them. Nothing illustrates better the difference between friends and "friends" than the fact that you can make the latter go away so easily. Not that this is entirely a bad thing, mind you. I’ve had plenty of real-life friends whom I would gladly have disappeared had I had access to a magic wand, or Facebook. Anyway, in this instance, good riddance to rich rubbish. Feh.
Since you asked, yes, of course it’s sleazy. Let me count the ways: he has some sort of ill-defined, vaguely disreputable career using other people’s money. He is cheating on his wife, and lying to do so. He’s trying to corrupt you too, and let’s face it, he probably always was a sleazebag, even way back when.
And that’s just him. Enjoying the chance to crow about your own happiness in the face of his sleazy desperation is, if not precisely sleazy itself, certainly unseemly. Frankly, I’m surprised you sent him your number. I assume that you, being a nice girl, never imagined that he had ulterior motives, and clearly you were duly shocked when he revealed them. But see, that’s the thing. What’s so great about these new quasi-contacts is that they are in there, in the box, with a nice buffer between you and the real-life them. Giving out your number lets them reach out and grab you, like in Poltergeist, and that is never good. I think we will be learning more a lot more about the difference between friends and "friends" in the next few years, often to our sorrow.
It does appear that you’ve developed immunity to his questionable charms in the intervening years, and that’s all to the best. Next time let the software do its job, keeping haunts from the past on the other side of the screen, where they belong.
Don’t forget to read Andrea at Carnal Nation.com.