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Suddenly, my in-box flashes and I jump at the first distraction I've gotten since my last text message--two minutes ago.
It's Facebook! "You have a new friend request. Click here to view," the message says. Elated, I paste the URL into my browser, conjuring images of the contender--a tall, dark and handsome boy with an edgy haircut. A picture loads, and the name reads: John Smith (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent).
That's funny. I don't know a John Smith. And he looks old enough to be my dad. I click his profile, confused, and take a closer look. Gray hair. Excuse me? Favorite books: The World Is Flat and Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Um...OK. Status: married. What?
There's got to be an explanation for this. Either it's my dad posing as a stockbroker from Waco, Texas, or my dad's best friend posing as said stockbroker to track my online goings-on.
I run into Dad's room. He's typing away at his computer, naive to the fact that I'm onto his scheme.
"So, John Smith. You know him?" I say.
My dad looks away from the screen, perplexed. "What?"
"John Smith! The guy you're pretending to be on Facebook!" I say.
"What's Facebook?" he asks, and I can genuinely tell he has no idea.
Oh, of course. My dad wouldn't know the first thing about Facebook. And for once in my short life, I thank God for my dad's lack of technological savvy.
So, John Smith isn't my dad. But who is he? And more important, what's up with the 40-and-older crowd on Facebook? From my perspective--as a 17-year-old girl brought up to be hyperaware of my surroundings, especially online--I have to be a little skeptical of the people who are adding me as friends on Facebook.
But before I get to why I think most of the older folks hanging out on MySpace and Facebook are creepy, here (in the spirit of open-mindedness) are a few of the more semi-legitimate reasons they might be using the sites.
We all know businesses want to keep up with the times. And granted, many businesspeople have Facebook profiles to network--CEO-to-CEO stuff--but why are you adding me? Honestly, I get creeped out when I see that your grad year is '86, before I was born; that you live in another state; and that you would love to be friends with a high school senior. I know I'm fun, but my favorite show is Ugly Betty and I love the book Confessions of a Shopaholic. What, exactly, do we have in common?
Keeping up long-distance friendships
It's unclear why you and your long-distance college buddy Mike couldn't just talk on the phone or e-mail, but Facebook is apparently considerably hipper. Upon registering, you discover some old friends, realizing that your stoner roommate is now CEO of a multibillion-dollar company. Good thing Facebook has enlightened you to your loserness. Who cares? You and Mike created an exclusive group: "Mike and Rick--BFFs."
Looking for votes
Just because Hillary Clinton's Web manager has let America know Hillary's favorite TV show is American Idol doesn't mean she's going to get teen votes. Politicians, if you really want to target young voters, propose laws that actually affect us instead of invading our personal cyberspace with annoying friend requests. The same goes for you, Ron Paul. That overwhelmingly large MySpace picture of yourself is enough to scare anyone away.
Hoping to feel young again
As if it isn't enough that your mom gets checked out more than you do whenever you go to the mall, now she has double the friend requests on Facebook. It's enough to ruin any teenager's life, especially because, for many, Facebook = life. In any case, you beg her to stop stealing all the cute guys you wish would add you, but she just claims it helps her feel young when her wrinkle cream doesn't do the trick. One day, when her jealous daughter makes her Facebook profile disappear, she'll lose 4,246 friends. That'll show her.
Spying on your kids
This mom is quite the opposite of the aforementioned one: instead of wanting to be on Facebook, she is horrified by its content. Nevertheless, she needs to protect her vulnerable little 18-year-old son. Using an alias and a picture of a hot brunette girl, she adds her son and all his friends. Now she can uncover the truth. He skipped SAT class to go to a party?! He watches porn?! Somehow, Mom forgets she was young once, and instead of "protecting" her son, she's actually ruining his life. All in a day's work for super(annoying)mom.
Being just plain creepy
And this one brings us back to John Smith. Most teens learn at a young age not to add friends they don't know personally. But, if the above examples are any indication, that rule of thumb can get tossed out the window on MySpace and Facebook, where it's sometimes hard to distinguish the creeps from the nice older folks. John Smith may seem like your average too-old-to-be-on-Facebook kind of guy, but he's probably a lot worse than that. Look, if his favorite music includes Kelly Clarkson, 50 Cent and Beyonce, there's a chance he's trying a little too hard to fit in. Plus, his Facebook status is "Duuude. Soo wasted rite now." Soo lame.
Sabena Suri, a CNET News.com summer intern, will start her senior year of high school in the fall.
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