When Titus recovered from the fever that had hospitalised him all week, he returned to his Facebook page more grumpily than was his wont. There was not a remark on his wall about his seven day absence from the scene. He looked at his ‘friends’ list. It was 2454 strong – two people had dropped off since he last checked but he was too angry to investigate who they were. In the past he would have checked, and stalked them for a week or two. Today he could not care less. 2454. He realised he did not have 2454 friends in real life. Indeed when he came down to it, he did not have 245 friends. He paused, watching his blinking cursor. Did he even have 24 friends in the whole world? Suddenly flustered, he pulled up a writing pad and began to write. It was furious at first, the writing. – Philip, Caustus, Godwin, Akprokpa, Pulule, Davis, Phanuel… but after the first dozen his writing became more sedate, almost reluctant… Davis… no he already had Davis… the lady at the Supermarket…. they spoke every blessed day, but could he call her a friend if he didn’t know her name? He struggled… Gertie…Gladys… He pushed away his writing pad, even more depressed, and turned to his laptop once again. He did not have 24 friends then. The 2454 Facebook profiles did not really represent friends, they were… names. He clicked on Grace’s profile… yet, he knew so much about her. He had seen all 89 of her photographs several times. He almost felt he had been with her on that bungee jump in Australia… but who was he kidding! He did not even know if she was a chain-smoker… if she stammered when she spoke… he only knew her in the flat, one-dimensional way one ‘knew’ the characters in a novel! He clicked on Marcel’s profile. Titus had attended seven of his events – Marcel threw the best internet parties. Da Silva’s wall was the most exciting place on the internet… he was just the raconteur. The same news went round the web but he knew how to put the best spin on it…. Cecile was in her 80s but she was such a wag! Her wall was the place to be if you wanted some naughty jokes delicately served… more double entendres than you could shake a mouse at… he smiled just to think about her.

Then he remembered he was depressed. He had been at death’s door! He could have died on the sofa and none would be the wiser! He typed it into the status box, although he knew he would never send it. I could have died on the sofa! It was nobody’s business after all. Facebook was just a place to kill some time, share some videos. People turned back to their real lives for real things… like being sick, dying… he was back in the trough of depression now and he stabbed the delete key… only to see the line jump to his status bar! He scrambled to delete the entry, groaning at his fat fingers, at the embarrassing mistake, but before he could quite click on the x, the first comment was online. Awww… what ails you, loverboy? Loverboy. That was Cecile’s nickname for him, although quite a few people now called him that as well. He was a confirmed bachelor, had never married, and was now a ‘loverboy’ online. That was so typical of the fakeness of Facebook. He bit his finger. He would claim it was a joke. As he began to write, another comment popped in. OMG! Were you ill? Titus, are you joking as usual? / He’s joking. He’s always fooling. / He means he could have died laughing. / Yes, ICHDLOTS – I-Could-Have-Died-Laughing-On-The-Sofa getit? / We getit, LOL, we’re not retarded/ LOL / That’s a new one, loverboy’s coined a new one. / He didn’t coin it, I did. I get the royalties! That last one was Da Silva. Titus had to chuckle at that one.

Then he reminded himself that he was supposed to be depressed. He scratched his unshaven chin as the comments grew. It was 32 comments and counting. There was now some concern that he hadn’t commented again. Some comments were mushily sentimental. He looked at the list of commentators. They were the usual suspects. He realised that he had 2454 names on his Facebook ‘friends’ list… but maybe two dozen of them were real friends. If 24 people turned up at his door he could have a party. If 2454 people actually came, it could be a nasty riot. His mobile phone buzzed once and he looked at the text message: Seriously, are you OK? It was Peter. Peter Olds used to be a Facebook name… He lived in Sacramento with his rare yellow cat. He was asthmatic and his closest companion was a bottle of oxygen. And his laptop. He rarely joined in online conversations, but he was always online. And once before, he had sent Titus a birthday message. But this was the first time in Titus’ three years on Facebook that any one would use the telephone number on his Info Profile to send him a real time text. Was Peter about to move from a ‘name’ to a ‘friend’?

Titus tried to remind himself that he was depressed, but he found himself grinning, drafting a response mentally. Who was he fooling anyway? He pulled up the keyboard and dived back in.

8 Replies to “Friendly Friends and the Facebook Sick”

  1. Abdul Adan says:

    I guess if you are happy in the head, whether it’s facebook therapy nor an actual one, it doesn’t matter realy, doesn’t? You just got to be happy somehow and it seems for Titus, facebook has done it. He nearly forgot he was sick and depressed. Or was he? I hope I won’t ever have over 2000 facebook friends.

    1. Chuma Nwokolo says:

      ‘I hope I won’t ever have over 2000 facebook friends.’

      I guess that would depend on whether they were Facebook ‘names’ or real friends. πŸ˜‰

  2. Ginger says:

    Haha. The relationships/profiles on FB were well captured. Guess Facebook like most things follows the 80/20 rule πŸ™‚
    Had to qickly forward this to a ‘Titus’ friend of mine.

  3. Agatha says:

    Hello. Thanks for the wealth of stories which I stumbled upon quite by accident and for which when I sent the link to a friend, his response was ‘I remember Chuma post…… Great guy lovely writer.’
    I wanted to laugh at this story, but it was hard. You see, a friend of mine died last year. On his birthday this year, a lot of his fb ‘friends’came to pay their yearly tribute.. Apparently, more than 90% of them didn’t know he was no more. So I started to respond to each of them in a msg dt read something like ‘sorry to be the bearer of bad news….’ (I wonder why I did it). It was painful and sad. But I didn’t know whether to be irritated or even more saddened when my msgs were replied with some form of shock…. And an immediated fb friend request from those people.
    Makes you wonder, how many friends does 1 really need??

  4. Moore Numental says:

    The viral deficit of attention ravaging our social interaction conjoined with the increasing “friending” social media encourages allows for such little time devoted to crossing the line from names to friends. Thus is demonstrated the irony of virtual friendship it births. A friendship, for want of a better term, devoid of the true essence of friendship – a person who becomes your other self. An existence which you aptly described as one-dimensional.

    If only we don’t let our virtual social networking interrupt our truly social human existence, maybe, just maybe, our friends (not named silhouettes) may live to see the sofa again.


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