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it's about to get real all up in here
by joe procopio (@jproco)
pop culture

I'm about to lose a lot of friends.

That realization makes me unhappy, making this column a huge risk to write. You know those people on reality shows and C-level celebrity rosters who make it clear that they am who they am and they don't give a steaming sunshine about what people think of them? I've always found that to be a total smokescreen.

"I keep it real" = "PLEASE LOVE ME I HAVE NO TACT!"

I'm proud, proud I say, of that fact that I absolutely care about what people think of me.

I'm somewhat fortified by the fact that the friends I'm about to lose aren't real live friends, they're social networking friends. Not to say that those people aren't my friends. Look, I try to balance Facebook by being inclusive without being hypocritical. I think I've done a good job.

So it'll suck even to lose Facebook friends, but I'll be losing them for the right reasons.

You can never have too many friends and, to be honest, I have no idea if the number of friends I have is too many, too few, or just right. I know those two sentences contradict each other but, hang on to the safety bar, this piece is full of that kind of thing.

The friends I do have -- I'm very proud of the collection, so to speak. But my real live friends come with very little stipulation or qualification other than our shared experience. Some of my friends are salt-of-the-earth, made-of-awesome, role-model type people. Others are dirtbags with the moral fiber of Cap'n Crunch. But there are saints I hate and sinners I love. There are rock stars I dig and total douchebags I can't stand.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 1
Primary Reason: I just called someone a total douchebag

I've never weeded out my own Social Networking roster. One reason is that, as I mentioned, I was careful putting it together. Another is because I rely so heavily on social networking to keep folks updated. Facebook is for the kids and my private life, LinkedIn is for bidness and public writing, Twitter is a mix.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 3
Primary Reason: A couple people just realized they're in the wrong room

The third and infinitely more important reason is that I've never really had a reason to. I hate drama as much as the next dude, so when I turn off the Interwebs for the day, all the drama, of which there is very little to begin with, I might add, pretty much stays right there.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 4
Primary Reason: Someone now thinks I called them a drama queen, which I didn't, but drama queens usually jump to those kinds of conclusions with a hair trigger

I've lost social networking friends. Not many, and I'm never sure why. I use humor to cover my tracks like a pothead uses energy drinks. But every once in a while, my ego, which is probably bigger than I think it is but probably small enough to do much damage -- like, I'm tallying the friend loss, doesn't that counteract the fact that I'm basically implying that defriending me is a big deal? (ha ha, it's a joke folks!) -- kicks me in the package.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 7
Primary Reason: My ego.

I think most of us think like this, I'm just putting it out there publicly.

This column went a couple different ways before it got here.

I was going to do a political piece at first, but my politics are so private that it just became not worth doing. And I realized that the impulse to do the political piece may have been coming from all the political rants I get exposed to in social networking.

If you're going true right or true left, and you start attacking, you're automatically going to alienate 45-55% of everyone for the luxury of having 1-2% cheer you on.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 10
Primary Reason: People incorrectly guessing what my politics are.

The column idea then became a sort of "Ten Ways To Lose Friends on Facebook," with those little things that I see that maybe we all hate. But hell, I'm guilty of half of them, and the other half, well, if someone feels that strongly about something then who am I to judge.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 15
Primary Reason: People who are better than me

But then I realized that what it all came down to is the signal that I pull out of the noise. Regardless of the occasional irritation, I want to hear about you.

Not you, you don't irritate me ever. Over your shoulder, I'm talking to that guy.

I want to hear about your kids, your family, your friends, and the great things that they accomplish in this upside-down world. I don't care if it's a first whiz into a toilet bowl or a Nobel Peace Prize. I want to be in the loop.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 18
Primary Reason: Took easy literary device to disappointingly turn a corner.

I want you to make me laugh. I want you to point me to cool new stuff I haven't heard of.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that social networking friends are exactly like real live friends, only it's harder to get to the signal through the noise. So I wrote this piece instead. And I learned that just as I've never drawn a line through someone's name in real life, I don't have to do any maintenance on my social networking list.

And if there's any revelation here, it's that again, just like in real life, my words and actions will probably do that for me.

Total Expected Friend Loss at this Point: 35
Primary Reason: Attempt to turn corner failed miserably. Eff you, Procopio!


Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

more about joe procopio


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topic: pop culture
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adam kraemer
12.1.10 @ 10:21a

Don't worry, Joe. I know I'm a douchebag, but I'm not taking you off my friends list.

Actually, it's funny you published this piece today; just yesterday a friend of mine informed me of a term he'd coined: FoFo (Friend on Facebook only). I think it's gonna catch on.

maigen thomas
12.1.10 @ 12:04p

I've defriended my mom more times than I can remember. She'll do things that irritate me on facebook, like call me out for non-bullshit things, and it'll irritate me in front of my friends (just like when I was seven). Then she'll beg to get put back on, and I will. And a few months later, it will happen again.

I clear out my list fairly regularly, because I try hard to keep work at work and fun at fun, but it's starting to bleed over.

robert melos
12.1.10 @ 2:15p

Betty White was right.

joe procopio
12.2.10 @ 7:24a

Adam, there's no way you're a douchebag... but nice try.

I'm grateful for a lot of reads on this column so far, and the only friend I've lost was Atlantic City (on Twitter), who you think would have split after this one here.

mike julianelle
12.2.10 @ 1:25p

Um, have you even MET Adam?

steven willcox
12.20.10 @ 8:53p

FB sucks because it's turning everyone into little babies that need constant attention and reinforcement of everything they do. "I'm having a fun time at the beach"... er...so what? "Ilove my little puppy..." uhhh, OK? I'm hungry, but I went to Taco Bell"... hmmm, why are you telling me? Honestly, get the f**k off your FB and just live your life.


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