I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a casual male acquaintance over lunch for the first time in roughly a year. Travel, circumstance, and life's general hustle and bustle had finally worked in our favor for an afternoon rendezvous. Midway through my meal, it occurred to me that all the points he was referencing and commentary he brought up sounded vaguely familiar -- almost as if we'd had this conversation before.
Then it hit me. He was regurgitating back to me all my Facebook statuses from throughout the last year. Status updates I didn't know he even knew existed because he never likes or comments on anything from my page. In fact, I had forgotten we were even connected on Facebook as he hadn't had an update, check in, or photo since early 2010.
Clearly I was mistaken.
He must have been reading my Facebook profile like it was his daily paper. I wonder how many times he checked it? Actually no -- that might freak me out. I'd rather not know what those analytics might yield.
But here he was, telling me how great I looked in the black dress from a charity gala back in October. He lamented his concern about my dog's recent brush with death, and how he was so glad I found the strength to talk about my infertility in such a public forum.
Apparently my friend (can I call him that?) likes to troll.
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. Facebook gives us a sense of false connectivity and I willingly engage in it. I share my prideful moments, some of my embarrassing ones, and thanks to check-ins, I occasionally share my physical ones.
Yet this experience turned me off. I grew as cold as my forgotten french fries and it became obvious that something had shifted. I couldn't wait to end the lunch and get back to work. Here was someone who has access to photos, knew all about the weekly happenings in my life and ultimately was reading me self analyze them via my blog entries.
After lunch we started walking back to the train together, I was headed downtown for one exit and he across town back to work. Approaching the station, he stopped me, whirled me around and planted a wet kiss.
"I've been wanting to do that for so long" he said.
I stood there stiffly, slightly panicky but not wanting him to know I was freaking out.
"Um, I'm sorry, but I think we have a mis-communication" I tried to gently express.
Thoughts were racing through my head. Did he think we were on a day-date? How did I give him that impression? How am I going to get out of this?
He seemed genuinely taken a back by the expression on my face (which must have given away my panic), apologized, and we went our separate ways.
About an hour later I received a text from him letting me know that he had unfriended me. He said I was teasing him with my online banter. I didn't respond.
I let out a sigh of relief that I wasn't the one to have to do the "unfriending" and then an inhale of indignation. How was I bantering playfully with him to the point that he felt led on? I forgot he was even in my social network! Is this the level of connection our social media behaviors have let to? Did social media give him a glimpse into my life to the point that he imagined a relationship that wasn't there? Did I unknowingly feed into this? I don't have the answers, but I know I went home and immediately changed my privacy settings.