I have an old friend who joined Facebook recently, apparently after months of urging by several people, me included. She admitted to me after signing up that two things had kept her from doing it before. The first was her daughter's absolute mortification that her mother would be joining FB, and presumably seeing the thousands of drunken photographs (WHOOOOO!!!!) that all college aged kids seem to feel need to be on the Internet.
The other reason was an old and deep insecurity that people would not like her. I was touched that she would admit this very personal and sensitive information to me, so I am posting it on the Internet. She's just lucky I don't have any drunken pictures of her from college.
Now, this person was not unpopular in high school. Besides being a cheerleader and some big muckity-muck on the yearbook staff, she was in about a thousand extra-curriculars and a bunch of honors classes. And in spite of all of that, everyone loved her. I mean, everyone. Boys, girls, jocks, townies, Sharks, Jets ... you name it. And still she is insecure, all these years later.
Between social networking, reunions, being around college kids, and (sadly) funerals, I have had many occasions over the last few years to reflect on the insecurity that seems to drive so many of us, and how no matter how rich or accomplished or otherwise secure we become, it only takes one ill-conceived comment or ignored friend request from the wrong person to plunge us back into that icy bath of teenage anxiety, wondering if our friends will still like us despite the fact that our mother wouldn't spend $12 for three-stripe Adidas.
It does get easier, though, and I think this may be part of the reason that social networking is gaining so much traction with the AARP crowd. We get a chance to confront the old anxieties with our grownup brains and experience, and hopefully vanquish them. There are several people that I have happily de-friended lately when I realized that I really didn't give a shit what they thought of me, and that if I met them at a social function today I would probably spend a good part of the ride home talking about what a tool they were.
Of course, now we get to start all over with our Internet friends. So you bitches had better leave comments and follow me and make sure my stats are up or I might have to go to my room and turn on the blacklight and listen to the Moody Blues on 8-track as loud as it will go.