A Weirdly Neutral Intermediary

Eryn Loeb meditates on virtual friendships:

The process of accumulating friends on Facebook is pretty much the opposite of making a guest list for a real-life, in-person event like a wedding. A guest list has a limited number of spots, and it should be pretty clear who makes the cut and who doesn’t. On Facebook, your network is at once sprawling and concentrated, a group of friends and enemies and acquaintances keeping cautious, largely superficial tabs on each other. Hanging out in alphabetical order, everyone looks sort of interchangeable.

...One dayone day soonall of this will become too mundane to be worth mentioning, but for now, while all this access still feels at least a little bit surreal, there are stages to move through as you test the limits of connectivity and your own willingness to connect. Sign on, and suddenly everyone is right there, posting exclamation-point-ridden messages to your wall about how “It would be so great to see you! We should get together!!!” that you quickly come to understand are mostly symbolic, a kind of conventional shorthand similar to the uncaptioned sonograms that passive-aggressively announce new pregnancies and changes to the clinical-sounding “relationship status” that don’t need to be conveyed personally because Facebook delivers the news itself, as a weirdly neutral intermediary.