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How to make hundreds of new friends you'll never meet

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Dolly Withrow Dolly Withrow
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Dolly Withrow is a columnist for The State Journal and the Charleston Daily Mail. Contact writer Dolly Withrow at ritewood@aol.com.

Having countless new friends, I'm popular for the first time. I can even name drop. I'm friends with former Gov. Bob Wise, the venerable Ken Hechler, meteorologists Tony Cavalier, Doug Harlow and one more meteorologist. I've forgotten his name, but we're still friends.

All my newfound friends are two-faced, actually three-faced. As is true of everyone, they each have a public face and a private face, but each also has a Facebook face or a profile. I have friends I've never met. When they sent emails asking me to be their friend, I didn't have the heart to refuse. Rejections are so rude.

Not all is fabulous in Facebook paradise though. Yesterday, I was unfriended by three persons. Astonished, my husband said, "Who unfriended you?"

"Beats me, Bill. I probably didn't know them anyway. They were just friends."

As you can see, we're doing the same injustice to the word "friend" that we've done to "issue." We're tossing it around as if it means nothing, and on Facebook, "friend" means nothing.

I'm not the only one who's been unfriended or delisted. You gotta love the jargon.

One father wrote that his teenagers had delisted their mother and him. In a snit, the mother delisted them. The parents were both on Facebook, one in one room and the other in another room when the father wrote he was happily married one minute and — beep — he was single the next. His wife had delisted him.

Two waitresses told me they were Facebook users so they could keep tabs on their kids.

Another said she was on Facebook because she was nosy. She quickly said, "I'm kidding."

Regardless of the reasons they use Facebook, they should watch those snits and keys lest they find themselves mateless.

Love it or hate it, Facebook's here to stay. According to Facebook, Inc., the site had 1 million users at the end of 2004. Eight years later, that number had increased to a whopping 1.06 billion users. Approximately one-seventh of the world's population is now on Facebook, and like our national debt, that number is growing fast.

Online "Celebrity Networth" lists 28-year-old Mark Zuckerberg as a billionaire. He's worth approximately $14 billion. Facebook makes big bucks.

Joan Goodchild is senior editor of Chief Security Office Online. She was interviewed on "The Early Show on Saturday Morning." Goodchild emphasized five dangers users unwittingly face when on Facebook. She listed them: 

 

  • Your information is being shared with third parties. 
  • Privacy settings revert to a less safe default mode after each redesign. 
  • Facebook ads may contain malware. 
  • Your real friends unknowingly make you vulnerable. 
  • Scammers are creating fake profiles.

 

I received an email from a dear friend who told me I simply had to watch a linked video. It was priceless. I clicked on the link and was told I had to have a Facebook account. I hesitated, but who wants to miss a priceless video? I registered, and watched the video. It had been recycled many times, and each person sending it thought it was fresh and priceless. You know the one of the bear cubs trapped in a trash bin. A truck is backed up to the bin with a woman in the truck bed. She lowers a ladder and the cubs climb out and leave happily with mama bear.

Years ago, I taught science fiction to college students. One short story revolved around the constant use of computers. Each character in the story sits in front of a computer all day and into the night. Groceries are ordered online and all business is conducted online. There is no human contact — ever. Science fiction has once again predicted the future, and it's almost here.

Recent studies indicated we are suffering from increased loneliness, and it is connected to technology. Other studies have revealed we are decreasing in intelligence. After all, the computer answers our questions. We no longer have to walk down aisles in a library. We hit a few keys and, voila, we have the answer or definition or location. It's all right there.

And we don't have to make an effort to have real friends. No invitations to our homes. No cleaning and food preparations. Just log onto Facebook and sit in front of the computer. No human contact.

After being shoved through Facebook's entry door, I'm searching for an exit, but I'll miss my friends.