I lead a fairly busy life, and so do most of my friends.
For us, the advent of Internet-based social networking has been a godsend. I was raised in Michigan, and most of my longtime friends still live there (the majority in the Kalamazoo area). As such, I don't get to see them as often as I'd like, but we are able to keep in touch -- pretty much on a daily basis -- through Facebook.
I admit to having over 400 Facebook friends. I know -- or at least know of -- all of them. There is no one on my list of whom I've never even heard.
When I get friend requests from people I don't recognize, I ignore them.
I went to a very small high school.
There were 89 people in my graduating class, and about half of those people are counted among my Facebook friends. I also have several FB friends that graduated from my high school a few years ahead of me or a few years behind me.
When I accept a friend request from someone I went to high school with, it's usually out of curiosity. I like to see where the people I grew up with ended up, I like to see what they're doing for a living and I like to take a look at their photos to see if their children look like them.
I don't accept friend requests hoping to forge new, life-altering relationships with people who were blips on the radar in my past.
I figure if they were meant to still be in my life, they would already be there.
When I first set up my Facebook profile, I was a real rookie. I didn't know who would be able to see what, and I put my contact phone number in my profile information.
A few months ago, a woman who was three years ahead of me in high school and with whom I'd had a very casual friendship called me.
I didn't pick up the phone, because the number was unfamiliar (she lives in Tennessee, so I didn't even recognize the area code).
She left me a message, but I never called her back.
I wasn't trying to be rude or anything, but I just didn't know what I would talk to this person about if I called her. I haven't seen her in probably 15 years or better, and we hadn't been that close anyway.
Over the last couple of months, she's called me two more times. I didn't even really ignore her on purpose -- she tended to call in the evening, which is when I'm usually having supper with my family, doing homework with my son or doing office work at home.
I just kind of forgot about her calls.
Last week, she posted something on her Facebook wall, and it showed up in my feed. I don't even remember what it was, but I posted a short, innocuous comment in response.
Directly thereafter, this woman changed her status to something to the effect of, "If you can't return my phone calls or make any attempt to talk to me, we are NOT friends. Take your phoniness somewhere else."
I read this and thought to myself, surely this cannot be directed at me. I haven't talked to this woman in over a decade. Is she really this offended that I didn't call her?
I forgot about that, too. Then yesterday, I realized this woman's status updates, which had always been a regular part of my Facebook news feed, hadn't been there for a while.
I looked on my friends list, and sure enough, she had unfriended me.
I don't know whether to feel sorry for this woman who is so lonely she has to try to dig up people from years ago to talk to, or to be monumentally creeped out that I was the chosen one.
I was talking to my friend Emily about it (she's one of the few people I actually do talk to on the phone), because I felt sort of guilty about the whole situation ... illogical as it all was.
Emily was able to put it in perspective for me.
"You have every right to decide for yourself who you're going to speak to and who you aren't," she told me. "Furthermore, I don't understand where she gets off calling you phony. If anything, you're just not very good at returning phone calls. That's hardly the same thing."
Good old Emily.
Facebook can be a good place, but it can also spawn some pretty weird stuff.
Jamie Barrand is the editor of the Banner Graphic. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.