If you’re not following Mara Wilson on Twitter, you need to be. She gives really good tweet.
She’s a former child actress. I mean – she’s considerably more than that, but a lot of folks remember her as Matilda, or the heartbreaking wee bairn in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
(An aside – just now I tried to find a clip of her in that movie saying “Diarrhea FOREVER?!” If someone could loop that for me, I’d be ever so grateful. It fills me with a lambent happiness that probably makes everyone else question my sanity. Whatever.)
At any rate, yesterday Ms. Wilson tweeted this:
AMEN. I would amend that to include junior high and grade school.
I get friend requests from all sorts of people. People I played in bands with, or acted with back when I was acting, or worked with…and people with whom I went to school, at all levels. Sometimes I’m puzzled by these requests, particularly if I didn’t regularly hang out with the person making the request. But by and large, I’m pretty sanguine about accepting the requests. Why not. Certainly I deal with enough rejection issues myself to know what it’s like when someone declines MY request.
Here’s a story: Years ago, I was on Friendster. Remember Friendster, oldsters? Friendster was what us social networking types used before MySpace and Facebook. (Now that I think about it, I actually preferred it; it had a much cleaner interface than MySpace or Facebook. I digress.)
So – there I was on Friendster, being online friends with my real-life friends and thinking YAY TECHNOLOGY, when I decided to start poking around for people I used to know. Because we all do it, right? And I found this guy from my high school class. I was not real-life friends with this guy. I was not engaged with him in any capacity, really, except that I WANTED to be. He was smart and he was cute and he played in a band. But I knew in my soul of souls that I was just too much of an oddball and not smart enough to hang out with him. And by “not smart enough,” I mean that I lacked the drive and ambition to be in the Smart Kid Classes™. I’m pretty sure I could’ve held my own with him at lunch.
So there he was, on Friendster. And I decided to be bold and request his “friendship.” Because even though we didn’t hang out in high school, SURELY he would remember me. I was quite unforgettable, after all. Surely we would become INSTANT ONLINE PALS, trading barbs and witticisms, and he would see me as the delightful, quirky bon vivant that I was.
His response? “I’m sorry – who ARE you?”*
Devastation. Yes, Lord.
And so I am very careful about making these sorts of requests now. I learned a hard, yet necessary, lesson from the Would-be Friendster Friend: I am not nearly as memorable as I think I am. I’ll even take it a step further and posit that not everyone thinks I am as charming as I think I am. My rule of thumb is: if I am reasonably certain that I had positive interactions with someone from my past, I make the request. Otherwise, I am to sit on my hands and remember that I am not a special snowflake lady.
Now, on the FLIP side, if I get a friend request from a former classmate, I apply much the same thought process. Did I like this person? Was this person friendly? If I didn’t know this person particularly well, is it to my advantage to be “friends” with him or her now? Is this person interesting? In most cases, I accept these requests. If they turn out to be psycho hosebeasts I can always UN-friend.
I will say that I am at my MOST guarded when it comes to friend requests from people with whom I went to grade school (which was actually a private, K-8 Catholic school). It’s no secret to those who know me or read this blog regularly that I had a terrible go of it in that school, during the last two years or so that I was there. The bullying got so out of hand, and the school’s administration so apathetic regarding the bullying, that I left in the middle of 7th grade.
But I tend to accept friend requests from those classmates, unless they were perpetrators who flat-out don’t acknowledge what happened. Maybe this is wrong. Maybe this shows a lack of forgiveness on my part, or an inability to “get over it,” some thirty years after the fact. But ultimately my thinking is – if you can’t remember or acknowledge how bad this was, then we probably don’t need to be friends. Or “friends,” even.
It’s a complicated thing, being “friends” with someone. Maybe I should go live in a yurt.
* – Actually, I’m pretty sure he accepted my request once I explained, but probably thought I was absolutely batshit Fruit Loops crazy. Also, I looked and he’s on Facebook, but I am totally not putting myself through that again.