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Online Orgy Cult

Facebook has been a great way for me to communicate with my friends for a while now.  It helps me stay in touch with old friends and talk more with new friends.  It lets me look through messages and pictures and reminisce on old times (or creep on other people’s). Occasionally, I receive friend requests from complete strangers (which I ignore) and sometimes friend request from people who share a great deal of mutual friends (which I might accept). It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I officially formed my first Facebook “friendship.”

One of my best friends, Eric, was accepted to NYU early decision and joined the “NYU: Class of 2014” facebook group in excitement. Shortly after joining this group, people started adding him on Facebook and messaging him, a fairly standard practice in college preparation. They tried to gauge Eric’s interests and personality through Facebook facilitated interactions. It’s kind of like online dating, but for roommates. One person stood out the most, though, and Eric slowly began to talk to Billy more and more about rooming together.

Eric had some skepticism, naturally, but didn’t want to offend Billy or destroy this rooming possibility by asking the wrong questions. This is where I come in. I love to talk to people and ask lots of questions, and Eric knew that if I talked to Billy I would pry and figure out things he wanted to know. So one day I sent Billy a friend request.

Before this, I had never Facebook chatted with a stranger before, but I found that it wasn’t as awkward as I anticipated. We talked about high school and our friends and our excitement for college, pretty generic things at first. I found out what Eric wanted to know, but in this conversation I also discovered that I really got along with Billy and I enjoyed talking with him.  He was funny and clever and I liked hearing about his life. So from that night on, when I was on facebook we would chat about our days and any drama in our lives. It was easy to talk to him about friends, since he was detached from my normal life.  Our friendship progressed from Facebook chats, to texting (or being “textual” as I like to call it), to phone calls and iChats. Billy and I had become actual friends.

Things stayed like this until the summer, when Billy’s mother had to come to North Carolina for a business trip. Bored at home, and able to fly for free due to his dad’s job, Billy decided to come to NC with his mom, and decided to stay in Winston-Salem for almost a week (one day can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/13716758?ab). I told my boss about this, and he freaked out on me, telling me that it wasn’t safe. He made me promise him I wouldn’t be alone with Billy and told me to call him if anything happened, saying somewhat jokingly that the delivery boys could get there to protect me before the police and they’d know how to handle it. He even created a code order, and told me that if I called and asked for a pizza with “extra jalapeños” he’d know what to do. I slowly became aware that making a friend through the Internet wasn’t normal or safe. But luckily, everything went smoothly!

The week after he came, I had an epiphany that I was meant to go to Lollapalooza. So two of my best friends and I got plane tickets and made our way to the Midwest. If it weren’t for my new Facebook friend, this wouldn’t have been possible. When we were there, I met a lot of his friends, and again and again we tried to explain how we knew each other. We tried the truth, which was accepted with mild discomfort. We went overboard and told some people we met as an online orgy cult, which eventually led to the truth and discomfort. Eventually, though, we settled on telling people we were family friends.

Those two week were two of my favorite from this summer and they would not have been possible without my Facebook friend. But when we tried to explain ourselves it became more and more aware to me that the friends you make on Facebook are not supposed to fall into your real life. Facebook, as much as it represents our lives, is also detahced from out lives. What people do and say on there, they might not say in normal conversation. The way people interact with one another on Facebook is not how they interact in person. And the people one meets on Facebook, are not meant to be real life friends.

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