John Hall
On Receiving the Message, at 3:13 AM, on Tuesday, September 21, 2010, That Joe Schrank Has Confirmed Me as a Friend on Facebook

This work was inspired by the Facebook message alluded to in the title, as well as the advertising for the film The Social Network, with which I had been feeling bombarded at the time. The buzz around the movie had inspired a number of ideas in my mind, mostly about the attenuated nature of social networks generally. I tend to feel distant from my networked "friends," and in a sense, it doesn't make much difference whether I know them in "real life," or am merely connected to them through Facebook. It occurred to me, as I contemplated the message from Facebook, that the relationship I was about to begin with Joe Shrank had the potential to be as meaningful as all my other social media relationships. That is, I didn't expect it to be meaningful at all.

As a parent, I am excited when I think of the opportunities that technology will create for my daughter. But I'm also concerned, as a parent and as a global citizen about living in an age where Facebook friendship can represent a connection. On the other hand, I’m aware of philosophies which posit that the information that makes up all of us and all matter is as substantial as the bits and megabytes that swirl around cyberspace. So these two, opposite ideas were battling each other in my head as I wrote. Also, the name "Joe Schrank" sounded funny to me.