Friday, August 16, 2013

That's What Friends Are For

Is it just me or is life so much more complicated these days? Once upon a time, when you didn’t like someone, you just stopped talking to them. Or, if you were passive aggressive, you would smile sweetly to their faces and then bitch about them endlessly to all your friends.
            These days, you can’t do that anymore because just about everyone you know is a friend on Facebook. People you’ve just met will suddenly send you a Facebook friend request.
            “I’m sending you a friend request now,” said someone the other day. I’d literally met her two minutes ago.
            I rearranged my face into a look of deep confusion. “Uhm, why?” I asked.
            “Because you’re funny, lah!”
            “What was that supposed to mean?” Amanda later asked.
            I shrugged. “No idea. Maybe it’s code for ‘you’re weird’.”
            “So did you accept her?”
            “Are you kidding me?” I said. “I’ve got, like, 200 friend requests I’m just ignoring!”
            “I wish I could do that!” Amanda said admiringly.
            Amanda belongs to that group of people who is incapable of saying no to friend requests on Facebook. Which is why she now has 2,500 friends of which 2,470 are complete strangers she’s randomly met over the years. Her daily newsfeed is filled with pictures and updates of people she doesn’t know. Every two minutes, a stranger invites her to play Candy Crush.
In the beginning, she would randomly ‘Like’ a photo of someone she had no recollection of ever having met, just to be polite, but when her friends list hit the 2,000 mark, even doing that turned into a full time job.
            Defeated, she stopped actively participating in Facebook and turned into what Saffy calls a Lurker.
            “You’re just Lurking!” Saffy said the other day. “If you’re not going to participate, you shouldn’t be on Facebook! It’s just creepy!”
            “But I don’t have time to participate with 2,555 friends!” Amanda sighed.
            Saffy’s bosom inflated.
            Amanda’s hair caught the slight breeze. “Yes, I know! Shoot me now! I’ve accepted 55 new friends! Oh my God!”
            Sharyn doesn’t know what the fuss is all about. “Aiyah, where got 2,555 friends, one? In life, hor, you only have five real friends, ah, I tell you! Un-friend the rest, lah! Look at Saffy!”
            Unused to be the centre of attention, Saffy’s chest puffed up. “Yes! Look at me! I did a major spring-clean the other day. Got rid of a hundred people! Well, when I say I got rid of them, I mean I hid them, which is the same thing.”
            Amanda looked doubtful. “Really? Who did you hide?”
            “Oh my freaking God!” Saffy blasphemed. “Who didn’t I hide? I started with all the people I’d not seen or heard from for the past two months. Then I hid all the friends who are always taking photos of the business class cabin they’re sitting in. Like, hello, don’t rub your expense account in my face while I’m catching the 111 bus to Toa Payoh, do you know what I mean?”
            Amanda, who’d recently posted on Facebook a picture of the satay trolley on Singapore Airlines’ business class cabin, looked a little guilty, but Saffy, who was on a roll, barely noticed.
            “And then,” she went on, “I hid all those friends who are constantly complaining about Singapore. Honestly, there were so many!”
            “Yah,” Sharyn said, “I or-so. Today, I un-friend five friend. Every post complain, complain! Gah-man not good, lah, ERP too high, lah, traffic jam, lah, this minister no good, that no good. Alamak, can die, ah! Facebook supposed to be fun, but these people hah, jialat! So…un-friend them all!”
            Amanda was amazed. “What? You literally un-friended them? You didn’t even hide them?
            “Don’t even bother!” Sharyn advised. “If you hide, you also have to hide all your posts from them. Extra two steps. Very lecheh. Easier you just un-friend them. Then they doh-no anything about your life! Much better, right?”
             Saffy says Sharyn is like the heartland version of Oprah. “Everything she says just makes so much sense! I’m telling you, after cleaning up Facebook, I feel so much better now! All that negativity has been purged, so I only have people I really want to be friends with!”
            By the look on Amanda’s face, you could tell she was thrilled by the prospect of shedding 2,470 people from Facebook. That night, she started with ten people, firmly hitting the ‘Unfriend’ button. When the earth didn’t open up and swallow her up, she was energized. The next night, she culled a hundred, and another hundred the next. She’s unstoppable.
            “I feel like Goldman Sachs!” she mutters as she selects candidates from her screen of smiling unsuspecting faces. 

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