I say nuts to 'Facebook' and strange friends

20th February 2009 at 00:00

Be my friend. It's really easy, much easier than it used to be. My first real friendship was with the only other boy in the Blue Group (I think) in primary school.

Our friendship survived the fact that he was bigger than me throughout P1-7 and thus out-wrestled me on most occasions. It survived him kneeing me in the nadgers so violently that part of me turned purple, as I discovered later when checking myself in the boys' toilets. It even survived his parents giving him all the Captain Scarlet cars as impromptu presents, whereas I had to save my shilling a week pocket money for them. (Eleven weeks for a Spectrum Patrol Car ... why do I remember these things?)

Big Minto was in the Scouts with me and we became inseparable for four years of high school when he repeated S1 and ended up in my class. A good-natured, gangly giant with a talent for mimicry, he kept me right on the teachers you could have a laugh with and the ones to avoid. We drifted apart when he discovered girls and beer, and I discovered that neither girls nor barmen were interested in someone who looked (and doubtless acted) younger than he was.

I sought out my own kind and a motorbike. Though the motorbike is probably melted down by now, many of these friendships and those made subsequently remain, albeit at the Christmas letter and occasional reunion level.

But I've got lots more friends now. It says so on Facebook, so it must be true. I joined this social networking site for a semi-professional reason which eludes me just now. When I did, I got notifications from people asking to be my friend. It seemed rude to refuse. What I didn't realise is that you can get Facebook to look automatically for people in your email address book and invite them to be pals. Thus I am friends with some people who I'm sure are perfectly nice, but I don't really know them, having ended up on their contact list for something long-forgotten.

It's not as much fun as having real friends, but perhaps it's a little safer - until someone adds the "Knee to the Groin" application and sends me some crushed nuts.

Gregor Steele never takes Facebook quizzes. So don't bother inviting him to do so.

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