• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Here's Johnny - To Facebook or not: That is the question

I'm trying to get back into the social media scene, but I don't think it's gonna last. Last spring, after deciding I had better things to do, or at least attempt, I left the world of Facebook. It was a wise move, because even if I didn't do or attempt as much as I'd intended, I missed a million posts about the Campaign of 2016. I really didn't miss being a social media participant at all. I've long been suspicious about the digital footprints we leave behind, and it was nice to not be feeding Big Brother and his corporate doppelgangers on a regular basis. However, several weeks ago, I opened a new Facebook account with my name, a hyphen, and the name of this fine newspaper. I did so primarily to make it easier to reach out to users I need to contact for stories, but also with the idea of posting an occasional story or column in the hopes of luring a subscription-paying fan. For a few weeks, all was well. I requested no friends, and no one requested that I be their friend, though I'm not opposed to the concept or even practice of friendship and believe I'm actually a fairly friendly guy. Then, about 10 days ago, the first friend request came. I granted it. The next day, I got another friend request from that person, this time for her business. I granted it. The next day, I received four or five friend requests; the following day, five or six; the next day; six or seven. The deluge had begun. Each day brought an increasing number of friend requests. Some were from people I knew or met on stories, but many weren't - and most of those appeared to be from people who not only don't live in Central Kentucky, but also may not be real people. For instance, I'm not sure about the real identity or existence of a woman named Addison Addison. In an attempt to ferret out the truth, or at least amuse myself, I sent her this note: "Hi, Addison Addison. I don't believe we've met, but I must say that I like your name. Seems easy to remember, for one thing. I guess if you've got a good thing, run with it. I tried John John for awhile, but everyone said I was stealing it from JFK's kid. Best wishes, John John." Addison Addison disappeared disappeared, not only from my list of friends (hey, she asked to be my friend, not the other way around) but apparently from Facebook, too. It is possible she didn't find my note funny - indeed, over the years, I've encountered many people unamused by my jests - but I think it's more likely that she wasn't a real person. I got a little smarter the next few times I received a friend request from someone not from these parts. I deleted them, hoping that if they came from a real person, they would be able to move on with their lives without my virtual presence in them. There are all kinds of Facebook scams out there, folks. My guess is that most of those involving an unknown person of the opposite sex reaching out to you eventually mutate into a plea for money, perhaps in exchange for eternal love or at least a fun weekend. Other people wanted other stuff. I received two requests to play "Alisa Bingo" and three pleas from one person to supply "free energies" for a game called "Criminal Case: Pacific Bay." My real friends know I sometimes have barely enough energy for myself. Of course, I've been asked to "like" pages, too. In my pre-Facebook exit life, I did all these things without thinking. But after a year off the grid, it seems that there are many more annoyances and strange things on the site that made Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire. All has not been unpleasant, though. It was good to hear from my favorite pharmacy tech, a young lady so warm and friendly that a decade or so ago, I considered asking my doctor to prescribe ibuprofen just so I could pull up to Walgreen's drive-through more often. It's been nice seeing old (real-life) friends, and I would have gotten a story out of a friend request from the woman who did network television interviews about her encounter with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell until I realized she lived in Georgetown. I don't know how long I can keep this up, though. I worry about hurting the feelings of people whose friend requests I don't grant - and about hurting my brain if I do and they post 35 times a day. So if I disappear from Facebook or don't grant your friend request, please don't take it personally. As the old saying goes, "It was nothing personal. It was just business."

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