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social fail
facebook at its absolute best
by jonas foster

For those of you unfamiliar with who I am, let me fill you in a little bit, only because it's essential to the story. I am not THE Jonas Foster, nor am I THAT Jonas Foster. In fact, I'm not any kind of Jonas Foster at all. I'm a writer, previously having published and sold close to dozens of copies. Jonas Foster is a pen name.

Anyway, because of this somewhat illustrious past, I have, under my real name, quite a few Facebook friends. However, since none of them know I'm here as Jonas Foster and presumably none of you know who I am (save one or two who will keep the secret), I can write this article with no regrets.

In the last six months, one of my Facebook friends has gone to jail, one has died, and another has gone batshit insane. One of their profiles gives me great joy. Another I de-friended. And one I'm addicted to like a ninth-level crackhead.

I defriended the felon. This had more to do with the business that I'm in today than any sort of moral or ethical judgment on my part. It's a fellow who lived in my building growing up, a couple floors down and a couple years older than me. He was the cool dude all the kids like me gravitated to and the exact one our parents told us to stay away from. This became less than a problem one night during my early teen years, when he beat the snot out of one of my friends while we were hanging around his apartment. I'll save you the details, but we went back to my apartment, my mother went into hysterics, the authorities were contacted, and although he got off with a slap on the wrist, we never said a word to one another the few times we passed each other in the lobby.

The news of his incarceration didn't have a shock factor to it. In fact, I only friended him about a year ago and within a couple weeks realized he was the same old thug, only now approaching fifty, where any trace of cool either gets oozed into a blob of middle-age fat or winds up clumped in the shower drain.

Ah, you're asking why I'm not still a famous writer.

This is an excellent example of the Facebook trial period, giving connections old and new alike that first warm handshake, and then moving on when the moment calls for it.

The death was a shocker. Car crash in Maine. There was a wave of disbelief and then a funeral and a couple days later when I realized I should probably defriend him, I discovered that his mother had taken over his Facebook profile and had posted a few times already. She was posting late at night, which means I missed it completely, her posts having scrolled off under a thousand workout summaries and complex coffee preparations.

She was brilliant. She was remeniscing and she was poignant and funny and cathartic all at once. Before too long, every post was followed by a dozen or so comments encouraging her to continue, which she did, and does. This is the one that gives me great joy.

I hadn't spoken to his mother much when we were friends, and then not at all once Facebook became our only connection. But now there's this other, wonderful friendship that carries on the memory of the first.

Nothing quite compares to the friend of mine who has gone way off into space. He's not a friend friend. In fact I barely know him. We came up together in Manhattan literary circles, and for a while we were at the same parties and dropping the same names, but he never got published -- always on the verge but never a bride. A year before I signed with an agent, he burned a number of bridges publicly and took a job with an insurance company in New Jersey. I too have reinvented myself, so I know the sting of having to go to work after putting one's dreams on the shelf.

In the fifteen years since, he'd always seemed to have taken it well, until about six months ago, when his posts started getting stranger and stranger. It wasn't long before it became crystal clear that he had been dabbling in a cult -- talk of enlightened masters and sacred messengers went from the exception to the norm. Trips to small cities in the Midwest were taken and documented (though never photographed, as that was strictly forbidden).

This friend is must-read, not for the spiral itself, but for the way the spiral is playing out. The comments on his posts went from innocuous check-ins like "Ha ha. You're such a nut!" to the toe-dipping "Is there something going on with you?" to the complete nonsense of the influx of new Facebook friends cheering him to come along over the edge with them to whatever planet, plane, or dimension they're all heading -- the destination isn't really evident in their posts, which just makes it more addictive.

His responses have become legend, from smug reprimands of disbelievers to very detailed dressings down of those who dare to wonder "what has happened" to stories, sometimes consecutive post after post after post, of technicolor gibberish.

It's perfect social post-modern literature. And thus, his circle is now complete.


Having spent most of the eighties in and out of various colleges, Jonas Foster ducked the 9 to 5, wrote a book, and then made a mint selling the right information to the right people. He once dated a supermodel, although he refuses to offer which one, and now habitually combs Manhattan in search of the next.

more about jonas foster


tracey kelley
8.31.10 @ 7:24a

I would imagine your friend is familiar with Fairfield, IA, yes?

I continue to be surprised by my interest in both Facebook and Twitter. I feel like Maragret Mead.

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