Do I Know You?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“So this girl I know is going to work at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch!” I told a friend of mine, then stopped.
For I don’t actually know her, truth be told. We’re conjoined on a social network, but @_slut___slut_ doesn’t know who I am and doesn’t care – as one of the prettiest and most popular women on FetLife, she has 18,519 friends, and we’ve never exchanged a word.
The entirety of every social interaction we’ve ever had consists of me clicking a button to request access and her clicking accept. Which, with 18,000+ friends, I imagine her index finger clicking away rapidly like a pair of chattering teeth, relentlessly accepting all onlookers.
So I don’t know her, at least in the sense that’s usually implied by “…and she knows me.” If Jennifer Lawrence says something adorable, as she inevitably does, I don’t say “This actress I know totally said something cute!”
FetLife tells us that we’re “Friends,” but if so, it’s a pretty crappy friendship we have here, @_slut___slut_. Have you ever invited me out for coffee? Have I ever braided your hair while we watched “Say Yes To The Dress” together? No, I think if we’re judged as friends, we’re both falling down on the job here.
I could say “Fet-Friends,” as I sometimes do, but that gets a little awkward when I’m talking to someone who’s not on FetLife – I do that – and also, it doesn’t cover the spread of other celebrities I kinda-interact with on Twitter and Tumblr and other social networks.
I could say, “This girl I follow,” but then that sounds staggeringly creepy, like @_slut___slut_ goes into the supermarket and I sneak in the doors behind her, sniffing the tomatoes she just touched and then hugging them to my chest to feel her residual warmth.
I could be honest and say “This girl who has only a tangential awareness of my existence, if that,” which would encompass her dim acknowledgement that yes, I was the 5,744th “love” on that photo of her butt, in much the same sense that maaaaaybe my favorite acappella band @HomeFree remembers favoriting that clever @-reply I left back in February, but… it sounds so pathetic I want to crawl into a hole and bury myself six feet deep.
So what the hell is our relationship? Come on, I’m gonna talk about her, because all my friends know about my addiction to Cathouse reruns, and the idea that someone I have some small window into their private life is actually going there is kind of exciting.
But that’s all it is: a small window. She posts pictures and the occasional essay, so I kiiiind of have an idea of who she is…
Or do I? I mean, I do a little dorking around in the public sphere myself, and I can tell you that what you’re interacting with at this very moment is not actually me. It’s a crafted snapshot of what I choose to share with you, but you don’t see me yelling at my wife when we’re arguing, you don’t see the crappy way I mistrain my dog because I can’t just ignore her when she looks so damn sad, you don’t see me talking about things I don’t know well.
But my friends-friends do.
What you’re getting here is an impressionist painting of me, and it’s close enough that if you held it up to the actual me you could definitely see the resemblance… but in the end, it’s a construct I send out into the electronic world to interact with you.
And I’m glad you’re here! I totally am. Interacting with y’all brings me joy! But it does remind me that I only sorta-know @_slut___slut_, and what I’m following is what she chooses to show me. I have no idea what she’s like to date, or what movies she likes, or even what her favorite food is.
So… we’re not friends. But we have a relationship. Or at least I do with her. And I’m happy to have that one-way connection, but there’s not yet a good word in the English language that summarizes what she is to me.
Because I care about her. I follow her. I want her to have a good time at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch (even if she has a terrible time, I doubt I’ll ever hear about it, as badmouthing employers in a public forum usually doesn’t work out well). I want her to be happy, as I know that I’m lucky enough to have people who want me happy. Hell, when I had my heart attack, I was shocked by the outpouring of love.
So what is she to me? Not quite a friend. It’s not interactive enough to be a friendship, to my liking. But she gives me interesting glimpses into her life (and her butt), and so I’m happy to continue this relationship.
Whatever the fuck it is.

2 Comments

  1. ellixis
    May 18, 2014

    I usually use “internet acquaintance” for that kind of not-quite-relationship. Or just “acquaintance,” for that loose sense of known-yet-not-known-personally.

  2. Chad Miller
    May 18, 2014

    I know American Dad! coined “friendsly” as a joke but it seems like this would be a perfect use-case for it.

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