Reader column: Paranoid world of Facebook ‘friends’

UGC Columnist Anna Pintus
UGC Columnist Anna Pintus
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Sheffield is a city, A big one at that.

So why does it feel like a village? For those 20-somethings like myself living in this claustrophobic space, you can’t say anything, do anything, be anywhere without someone knowing about it.

Take Facebook, love it or hate it, there’s no escaping it.

In Sheffield you can pretty much guarantee that on meeting a ‘new’ person, you will be innocently conducting the standard social media spot check and find you have at least two mutual ‘friends’.

Note the punctuation surrounding the word ‘friends’.

Exactly my point.

No longer is it necessary to know someone personally, to even meet them in the flesh, to know everything about them. Sheffield is a reflection of Facebook’s biggest flaw.

Some would argue it is nice, comforting almost, to know that you only have to walk down the street and there is a definite chance of bumping into an acquaintance.

Or, at least, a situation in which you have to awkwardly avoid someone you don’t want to see. Or maybe they are just a face you recognise but have never met.

This raises another niggle. There is a moment when you think – I know that person – and it takes you a second to realise that no, in fact, you do not ‘know’ them at all, they are simply a face from the world of social media.

I have an irritatingly acute memory for faces.

Without knowing anything about a person, I can see their face once and remember them forever. Sounds great, yes? In reality however it is like having a useless version of a photographic memory.

Trust me, it does nothing but get me into trouble.

That stare held for too long, bravely going for a smile and a wave only to be hit with a sudden realisation and awkwardly holding back.

In other words I have been equipped with the ability to make people feel paranoid.

Even in other cities it is impossible to escape Sheffield’s influence. Standing on a platform in Tottenham Court tube station in London recently I looked up to see an old school friend giving me that ‘I know you from somewhere’ look.

It’s funny really, only a few moments before I had been quietly musing on who had left the confines of the village and hit the big smoke.

Figures.

Sheffield’s Anna Pintus is a press planning assistant at a media agency and a freelance journalist with an interest in film.