The problem with my Facebook boyfriend
Facebook is not to be trusted. Into that great sucking vacuum of time, we willingly spill the dramas of our lives and gobble up the latest from our friends and colleagues, even as we admit the website is nothing but spin — invented lives, edited personalities, constructed fabulousness.
Still, though I acknowledge nothing on Facebook can be believed, I can’t make it through the day without taking a sip, just a quick scroll through the news feed to see what’s happening in the wider world. Evidently not much, based on what often pops up. But there are sometimes rare gems, bits of insight or wisdom or brilliant photography that make me stop and sit up in admiration.
Enter my Facebook boyfriend.
I’ll call him Andy. We met in graduate school two years ago — although technically speaking, we’ve never actually met. But given our common interests — travel, world affairs, good books — a mutual friend thought we should be in touch. So we became friends on Facebook, exchanged a few online messages, and now his posts frequently land in my news feed.
Andy regularly shares photos of the places he’s visited —Greece, Finland and Germany this year — and they’re always artful, taken with a good SLR camera, often of local people or scenery.
He’s not one for the grainy cell phone shot, the kind of photo on so many Facebook pages, the ones where the guys have their arms draped over the backs of their buddies, sweating bottles of local beer in their hands. Andy never posts photos from inside clubs or bars, he never makes silly faces into the camera, he’s never standing beside some tube-top wearing girl he just met.
In fact, Andy rarely appears in his own photos, and when he does, he always looks serious and soulful and extremely well groomed.
When he’s not posting pictures from his world travels, he’s writing about world events — the riots in Greece, the economic crisis in the eurozone, the drum beat to war with Iran. Sometimes he’s witty, other times he’s grave, but he always uses proper grammar and correct spelling. For that alone, I’d marry him.
I’ll admit it feels strange, this Facebook engineered intimacy with someone I’ve
never met. After all, I know his likes and dislikes, his tastes and hobbies, his political leanings and future aspirations, and in that way our relationship is more intimate than many actual romances. This despite the fact that, like most things on Facebook, our connection is completely invented.
Which is what makes online love affairs, especially one-sided ones, so precarious.
I recently made the mistake of mentioning my infatuation to our mutual friend.
“Andy?” she said.
“He has the best Facebook posts,” I said. “So smart. So sensitive. I think I have a little crush on him.”
My friend laughed. “But he’s gay.”
“Of course,” she said. “He was pretty open about it at school.”
Which I would have known we were friends. I mean, actual friends, not just friends on Facebook, where our edited selves bear as much — or as little — resemblance to real life as we want. ¦