This week, someone with more than a thousand Facebook friends sent me a friend request.
I found this odd. Why, if you already have a thousand friends, do you need more? And yet it seems that in some circles, numeric status on Facebook is all that matters these days.
Along those lines, my emotions have been assaulted by two recent stories, both of which demanded that the only way to reach a happy conclusion was to accumulate 1 million Facebook Likes.
In the first, reported by Mashable, a daddy said to his little girls: "No, little girls, you cannot have a puppy. Well, not unless you get yourselves 1 million of those invaluable Facebook Likes."
No, of course I'm not quoting the assiduously caring daddy of the little girls who created that other, now-famous "Twogirlsandapuppy" Facebook page.
But it took the sisters only two days to please daddy. It was all described as a "simple bet," but there's something deeper that the girls will surely learn: life is about virtual popularity.
This need for virtual approbation doesn't stop at canine love. For here is the story of Petter Kverneng. Keverneng lives in Norway. Keverneng seemed keen on having sex with a girl called Catherine.
Catherine, however, deemed him only a friend. This is something that happens to my engineer friend George sometimes. He deals with it by dancing a lot.
As Gawker reveals it, Kverneng and Catherine bantered humorously about the idea of him gaining 1 million Likes to gain her carnal affections.
More Technically Incorrect
Suddenly, an image of him and Catherine (he is holding a sign explaining his problem with being Liked) rocketed to 4Chan's image boards, where, after a little 4Channel marketing, the required Likes were delivered upon a velvet cushion.
In the Facebook image, Catherine offers an expression somewhere between distraught and bemused.
However, now Kverneng has told the local Nettavisen newspaper that having achieved his goal, the two of them have decided to "keep what we promised."
Of course (one hopes), there will not necessarily be the same sort of Facebook evidence of this transaction as there is with the cute, adorable little puppy.
Still, in each case, there was a level of humor attached to the challenge.
While you consider the joys that have descended or will descend on two little sisters and one Petter Kverneng, I cannot get Goethe out of my mind.
In "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life," Freud, too, couldn't get Goethe out of his mind.
"Geothe said of Lichtenberg: 'Where he cracks a joke, there lies a concealed problem'," Freud wrote.