Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On Memories, Humor and Reconnections...

I've been on MySpace in the past. It was Facebook, however, that got me back in contact with literally scores of old friends and acquaintances. I've noticed some interesting responses to "friend requests" from people I knew in my past -- or to messages I've sent, when I recollect events from our shared past... In most cases, the reactions are funny, in some cases, they are telling.

I'm basically an introvert. I like my life to be solitary, but I don't usually mind interaction with others as long as it's on my terms, or terms I can feel comfortable with. And, I am generally pretty amiable and light in my attitude and interaction with others. Sometimes, people just don't like that attitude though. And even when you're 25 years removed from that person and that memory, how they react to your recounting of an event tells you alot about that person.

Some of my good friends, even after all these years, will laugh with me as I recount some foolishness we got into, or some circumstance where we were caught between the proverbial hard place. Others will totally deny anything like that ever happened. Still others -- even after 25 years -- will get defensive and angry, even if it's over nothing.

Looking back, and having known these people before, I should have realized where they were coming from -- and I should have been able to predict what they would think and how they respond before I ever sent them the message or responded to their requests.

So, a rule of thumb for Facebook or other similar networks: If someone "recommends" an old friend they think you might know, consider and then reconsider whether this is a person you wish to reconnect with. If you will ONLY have that one "mutual friend," how close were they to you in the past REALLY? Did they run in your circles, or were they from a whole different clique? What were they like then?

I've found that leopard's very rarely change their spots. Can they? To be sure. But DO THEY? Not usually. If someone in High School or College came across as a bit aloof, if when they acknowledged you it was as though they were doing you a favor, or it was a matter of necessity -- don't bet on that attitude having changed. The odds are long.

That happened to me the other day. Made me think. Looking back, I laughed at the things I mentioned to this person. This person didn't laugh. "No recollection of that," said they. It angered them that I would remember such things, much less bring them up as humorous. Then, it hit me -- they weren't laughing back then either. Not at themselves, and not with me.

Some people didn't want to be your friends in the past. What makes you think they would want to be now, on an internet site, where the whole world can see? Since this little reminder, when someone sends me a "Thought you might know..." link on Facebook, I usually do a double take on who's being recommended as a friend. Some, I've just ignored. They didn't want to be my friend in 1987, or 1982, or 1998, or 2002. An internet site designed to reconnect "friends" won't make them anymore "friendly."

It's a valuable lesson in reality. It's a vaulable lesson in human nature. It's a valuable lesson in internet etiquette. If they weren't your friend before, don't expect them to be your friend now. It's a fools thought.