But it is a different sort of excitement when an acquaintance becomes a facebook friend. Yesterday, my neighbor Sarita, who I have known for a month, requested my friendship. I know a few things about her already: She is divorced. She has 4 children. I know where she lives. I know her job. A few nights ago, when she came over to collect my portion of the electricity and gas bills, we ended up talking about Chilean politics. But that is pretty much an exhaustive list.
But now, facebook gives me a much wider view of her personality. I have discovered her birthday was just a few days after we met, and suddenly feel slight guilt that I didn’t wish her a happy day. I have a sense of her taste in music because she has posted several youtube videos of songs to her account. I see a bar where she was tagged in Iquique. I see that she wished Dios blesses her friends often. There is a photo of her hiking in the desert from last year. These things are certainly not reaching into the deepest recesses of her personality. But they are providing insight to aspects I might not have learned quickly otherwise.
I suppose she may share a wider variety with “close friends,” but perhaps what is more interesting is what does not appear. There are no pictures of her children. There is no reference to her job. Not even a reference to Alto Hospicio (her location says Iquiuqe). There are no political memes or commentary. No mention of the fact that she is taking night classes for a liceo in Social Work at the university in Iquique. And it leaves one to wonder…what else doesn’t appear here?
The new-new facebook friend also creates a certain anxiety about what she now knows about me. Though Sarita only sees some of what I post, she may now have a glimpse into my family, my politics (which can be a little radical at times), and my propensity to have fotos taken of myself in bars with punk rock tattooed friends. Will my proclaimed atheism worry her? Will the pictures of Marcelo blowing condoms like balloons at my despedida from La Paz shock her?
And with this, questions of editing again emerge. I second guess if I should keep certain pictures tagged. What image do I want to present to Sarita, to others in Alto Hospicio, to the academic world, to friends of friends? And in a way, I’m lucky to have not only facebook privacy settings at my disposal, but language barriers that I can use to my advantage. Political rants go in English (though I’m sure they upset many friends from my small town high school). When posting in Spanish I can be a bit more understated. And of course I have friends in the US who are capable of using google translate, and South American friends who speak excellent English. But nonetheless, it’s interesting to think about the ways we tailor, edit, and curate. And the ways we worry about it. No doubt what we present, especially for those that move from acquaintance to friend via facebook, has real social impact.