Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who The Fluff Are These People?

Zebras (Photo credit: flöschen)
Zemanta decided Zebras were an appropriate photo for this piece.
Why, I know not, but better zebras than pics of the Stock Exchange
And how did they get into my smartphone?  Yeah, yeah, synching, or, if they spelled it properly, sinking, because many of the phone numbers I entered in laboriously one at a time got overwritten when it "synched" with FaceBook and Google and half of my phone numbers disappeared, like going into a sinkhole.  Thanks, Technology!

But I still have a bunch of contacts who are unsorted, and frankly, am not sure what to do with them all.

I don't want to seem unFriendly, but it feels overwhelming if I classify everyone I have ever exchanged emails with or Friended on FaceBook as my Friend in my smartphone. I will be scrolling for eternity to find the actual friends I might want to call.

Take my first boyfriend. Please. [snare drum]  

Long, long ago, in a state far, far away, we exchanged painfully clumsy kisses, and even clumsier... well, anyway, we're FB friends now. Kind of family, in a sideways kind of way - one of "his people" is married to one of "my people."  Which brings up a new problem.

I've had several ex-boyfriends, including him, tag me as "family" on FaceBook. Clearly, in these cases, we're still cordial and not at all weird about each other - or weren't, until that request came across my screen.  It seemed bitchy to refuse the "family" request; I know that what they were trying to express was that our relationship seems more intimate than Just Friends. Yet there isn't a "Relative Not Otherwise Specified" label, you've got to pick something, and that's where I got squicked out.   Brother-in-law, uncle, father, cousin... all sound creepily incestuous.

And what if I meet somebody later on, and now I've got to explain to my new flame that my ex-flame on FB who's labeled as my cousin isn't really my cousin...?

English: Oregon trail reenactment with typical...
English: Oregon trail reenactment with typical Conestoga wagon in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska in 1961. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was much easier back in the pioneer days, when you just crossed the prairie in your Conestoga wagon and could pretty much count on never setting eyes on any of your exes again.  (Easier except for the dysentery and cholera and understandably hostile natives and all that.)

What do I do, on my smartphone, with a former FWB that I met through an organization neither of us belong to anymore - are we "Friends"? Or do I file him as a contact under said organization - but then, if I go that route, what do I do about his wife, with whom I've become acquainted and friend-ish?  She's not an associate from that organization. If I file her as a Friend, then surely he's a Friend, too, right?

What about the Offspring (my own, not the band)?

And his various friends, their wives, his ex-girlfriends and their spouses, a fairly substantial group with whom I've kept in touch. Although they are no longer dropping by my apartment every day (thank goodness!), we exchange greetings from time to time and I publicly coo over their wedding and baby pictures.  (Though just between you & me? Some of those babies are so ugly. Not yours though. Your baby is adorable. Those other people's babies.)

What do I call The Kids? If I call them my Friends, am I poaching from my son, or presuming a degree of acquaintance that doesn't really exist? And their babies, ugly and beautiful, who now have their own FaceBook pages? I had to Friend them - because how could I not, when their parents invited me to? "No, I don't want to Friend your ugly baby"? But do you think, when they get old enough to work their own tablets, the kids of The Kids just might want to pick their own friends, and not maintain a "social network"with some weird old people they have never even met?

Nah. They'll probably keep the connection so they can pitch me Girl Scout cookies, wrapping paper, then later on, Amway and life insurance.

More Ex-amples

Add in my last ex-boyfriend's friends and family, with whom I've kept up tenuous contact for the most part, and become little closer in a few cases. Should I set up a category just for them, or...?  If I file them as simply my Friends, is it like I am co-opting his friends?

(For the record, I am not still friends with every man I've ever been involved with. That would be very weird. Some of them I've lost touch with, and some of them are dead.

(Of natural causes.)

What do I do with all the distant family and friends with whom, it became painfully clear this last election cycle, I have a total disconnect in political and sometimes religious beliefs? Do I set up a category to segregate them, an Outer Circle Loons where we can exchange family news and pet anecdotes and avoid going into the tinfoil hat stuff?

Portrait of a Guangzhou Lady Blogger  (China, ...
Portrait of a Guangzhou Lady Blogger (China, Qing Dynasty) (Photo credit: Mike Licht,
Then there's all the other writers. Ye gods, I know so many writers. Romance writers and thriller writers and children's book authors and mommy bloggers and cover designers and memoirists. I've tried to set up a few categories for how I know them: my LARA (RWA Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter) sisters, SoCal Lady Bloggers, people I met at RWA12, but there are so many more than that, and some of them, I just don't remember how we met.

Or if we met.  When you've been blogging for a while, there are people who've guested on your blog, or vice versa, or just connected electronically somehow along the way.

We're All Next-Door Neighbors Now

These days, we do get to meet many of our long-distance friends face to face. In the last few years, I've made friends in Oregon like amazing author Lisa Hendrix - online first, in person, later; another online friend in Chicago (and now I have more people I want to meet in Chicago, next trip).  Even met one online friend from the UK for tea when he was passing through LAX. (Note: some people from the UK who are perfectly intelligible in writing, possess accents thicker 'n scones with jam, in person.)

I think the farthest person I met at RWA12 this summer had traveled from New Zealand; there were lots of friendly Canadians, and South'rners, and East Coasters though. So just because I haven't yet met Kiru Taye, a Nigerian writer who lives in the UK, or J.L. Campbell from Jamaica or Denise Covey from Australia doesn't mean I won't, the sooner the better, I hope.

I have in my smartphone contacts my former neighbors (sorry about the noise), Hilaree and Jeremy Robinson, whose original plan was to write Hollywood screenplays in LA, and who settled for writing best-selling novels in New Hampshire, instead. New Hampshire? Who goes to New Hampshire, except for Presidential candidates? But whether the Robinson clan come back to Cali to take the kids to Disneyland, or I find myself on a B & B fall tour of New England someday, they've got to stay in my smartphone - only, as what? Friends? Former Neighbors? Famous Writers I'm Stalking?

How do I separate out all the writers?

Everyone needs a Beyoncé in their life.
Writers I've Met, Writers I Want To Meet, Writers Who Don't Impress Me At All But I'm Hanging Onto Their Contact Info For Totally Self-Serving Purposes, Just In Case?

Without drilling down so far that every contact has her or his own category, like: Best-Selling Authors I Have Briefly Met Who Are Also World-Reknowned Bloggesses with Big Metal Chickens Who Are Strangely Not Yet My Best Friends? (The authors, not the chickens.)

I know I have to figure this thing out.

Or, I could leave the damned smartphone contacts in the big, dogpiled mess they already are in, until such time as I get a new smartphone and add another five hundred people who don't fit neatly into any category.

How do you organize your smartphone?
What contact categories are helpful for you?
Do you ever weed people out, or do you hoard
every scrap of info, just in case?
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