When Smartmom walks down Park Slope’s Seventh Avenue, she often notices — out of the corner of her eye — someone she’s “friended” on Facebook.
While it may not be a good friend, it’s probably what she calls a good acquaintance. She might know the person from one of her kid’s schools or through a mutual friend. Maybe she runs into her at the Community Bookstore or at Dr. Edna Pytlak’s office.
But now she knows way more about her “freinds” than ever because she’s read their “25 Random Things About Me,” their list of favorite words and has a running sense of their daily status. She’s pretty sure it’s not appropriate to talk in-person about what’s been posted on Facebook. But she’s not totally sure.
For instance, now she knows that Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6 and one of the candidates running for Bill DeBlasio’s seat in the City Council, thinks that Astrud Gilberto has the most beautiful voice ever. He has a head for trivial information and logic; was a member of Mensa once upon a time; and loves to put on socks straight out of the dryer.
She read it on Hammerman’s “25 Random Things.”
So should she go up to him the next time she sees him in front of ConnMuffCo and say, “Is it true that you periodically crave marble cake made from Duncan Hines mix?”
That would be crude and rude, right? Suppose someone was standing nearby; a mere mention of Hammerman’s Duncan Hines obsession could lose him a vote.
Sometimes Smartmom sees one of her Facebook friends on her way to the subway and she sort of knows where he or she is going because the “friend” posted about it; or she runs into people at Sweet Melissa’s or ’Snice, and she finds herself curious how something or other turned out.
But it’s not really appropriate to say anything. Or is it? Is it rude not to? What’s the etiquette here, Emily Post?
They call it “social networking,” but who knows if it will lead to a tighter sense of community or a community of people who nervously avoid each other when they’re out on the street because, like, now they’ve studied each other’s high school class pictures.
They’ve seen each other’s hairstyles from 1977.
They’ve looked at each other’s baby pictures and wedding albums.
Facebook is like a really cool party at an artist’s loft, where you’re free to check everybody out and talk to anyone you want. You see your friends, your friends’ friends, even teachers from the Oh So Feisty One’s elementary school.
For instance, Smartmom “friended” OSFO’s beloved second-grade teacher and found out that she’s moving to Portland, Oregon, after the school year. That was a shock. But it wasn’t nearly as controversial as what happened when Eighth Avenue Mom friended her second-grader’s teacher — only to discover that all the teacher does online is complain incessantly about her students.
Now that’s a major breach of etiquette, kind of creepy and very unwise. Everyone knows you should keep your posts on Facebook generic and bland. You should never ever reveal any of your secrets; and never ever utter an unkind word about anyone other than a Republican.
That’s because you can never undo what you do on Facebook and that’s pretty scary. It could cost you a job, a friendship or a chance to get invited to someone’s 50th birthday party.
The trick on Facebook is to keep it light. Fave books, fave movies. Silly thoughts for the day. That sort of thing.
Light. Smartmom learned that Warm and Funny’s favorite books are “Timbuktu” by Paul Auster, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and “Eat, Pray, Love.” And get this: her favorite activities, besides sleeping, are eating and sex. Very telling — yet not so telling at all.
And Smartmom’s friend, Gluten Free, is secular Moominist, whatever that is. And that her top five favorite words are: cobble, swift, tender, gentle and friend.
Smartmom was very touched by that last one.
After Smartmom posted that she and OSFO were trying out the family’s new panini press, quite a few Facebook friends posted their favorite panini recipes. She even heard from a boy she kissed in high school that he uses “tuna in olive oil with whatever cheese floats your boat. Basically a tuna melt.”
Thanks for that, she thought. He was a good kisser, though. Very.
Smartmom really appreciated when her new Facebook pals offered their favorite cold remedies when she was feeling like crap. They even took the time to send get-well greetings.
So it’s really fun — and helpful — to have these “friends.”
Nonetheless, Smartmom has decided to keep her Facebook life separate from her life in the real world. Seventh Avenue isn’t the place for a clarification, a further explanation or a “Hey, how did things work out with your daughter’s tantrum?”
In other words: what plays on Facebook, stays on Facebook. There should there be some kind of secret handshake or wink.
This problem is only going to get worse because everyone she knows in Park Slope will, inevitably, join Facebook. The ones already using it discover quickly that they can’t get enough of it; they love posting status reports and sending funny messages to their friends.
Some of them even devote their columns to it. Huh? Who? Oh yeah.
Smartmom is … writing her column about Facebook.
Better start working on that secret handshake.