Karen Heller: Beware strangers asking to be friends

0520708_facebook400
In the old days, life was still about who had the most toys. Now it's about who has the most Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
(Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

In the old days, that is, during the first George W. Bush administration, it was still about who had the most toys. You know - vacation homes, hedge funds, vehicles that consumed copious amounts of foreign oil.

Now, it is all about friends. Whoever has the most friends wins. Possibly this is an improvement, a less materialistic while environmentally gentle form of one-upmanship.

I thought I had plenty of friends. It appears not.

As of Tuesday morning, according to Facebook, only 33. In this Internet universe, you have to find people and ask them to befriend you, or vice versa. The truth is some of those friends wouldn't stop to help me fix a flat tire, possibly because we've never met.

Poll

What's the best place to meet friends?

Our son has 165. He's only 14. We went on Facebook to keep tabs. Guess what? He wouldn't friend us back.

"Dad, this is so weird," he posted on his father's wall. Unlike at camp, he won't write me back no matter how often I poke. Maybe that's because he doesn't currently require Skittles and Rolling Stone magazines.

I realize it's an adolescent's job to separate, and the bond between parents and children is far more intense than that of friends, but this is a whole new level of rejection.

I have more shoes but my husband has way more friends, 199 and counting. His friends write all the time. Do I need more friends? Possibly. I can always look down at my shoes and smile, and my husband may never really meet his "friends," but perhaps a smashing pump is no longer the point.

Our former babysitter, Triscuit - a nickname for the size of her T-shirts - is in college where you hit the Facebook mother lode, given that's where the movement started way back in '04. Pals to 1,059 people all over the globe, Triscuit's on the pro circuit of Facebook while we're stuck in Pee Wee. Is this what college students do instead of drinking beer? Nonsense. It's what they do while drinking beer.

Speaking of college, a friend - a true one - suggests increasing my number by befriending former classmates. So, I try. Guess what? It's been so long I don't know who any of these people are. Great. I've reached the perfect confluence of memory loss and an inability to remain current. I can't remember the friends I once had in order to up the ante of the ones I need to keep up.

You can Facebook or you can hold a job. Facebook turns out to be as slow as America Onhold once was. (Is anyone still a member of AOL? It seems akin to having a rotary telephone.)

Just upped my cohort to 36! Then again, a new friend announces she hit the 300 mark and I helped her get there.

We all know irritating people who namedrop, folks who say things like, "Well, Brad Pitt's dry cleaner's cousin is my neighbor's accountant." There are a fair share of placedroppers who, no matter where you say you're going, be it Rome or the New Jersey Turnpike's Molly Pitcher Service Area, need to tell you they've already been there, done the trip better, and what you must do when you get there.

Now, we've entered into a whole new world of Facedroppers, people who will tell you they have so many more friends than you do.

And they do. They all do.

To wit, my savvy Internet pal Amy says Facebook isn't really where it's at. Easy for her to say when she has a saucy photo and 128 friends.

No, Amy's all atwitter about Twittering, one more distraction and way to procrastinate. On Twitter, Amy has 133 followers.

Wait a minute.

Now I have to acquire followers when I have so few friends?

Doomed, my 36 dear friends, I am doomed.


Beginning June 9, Karen Heller's column will appear Mondays and Thursdays in the Local News section.

Contact staff writer Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or kheller@phillynews.com. Read her blog, http://go.philly.com/populist