Evan Kessler Dot Com

The Home of the Brave

The Woodworks

Posted by evankessler on May 15, 2008


Whether or not you consider yourself a member of Generation X, Generation Y, The MTV Generation, or The Generation that really hates to be labeled with letters; if you’re under the age of 40, odds are that you’re currently lumped into a new generation known as the Social Networking Generation. Ever since the dawn of Friendster sometime around 2003 it’s been totally cool to have a digital space to show all of your friends how many other friends you have just in case you want to make them jealous that you might have other people to hang out with besides them or if you want your other friends to find someone attractive within your group of friends they don’t know that they may want to hook up with.

Aside from the glory that comes along with showing off the fact that you are semi-acquainted with more than 116 people, there are some drawbacks that go along with Social Networking. The biggest annoyance is that which I call “The Woodworks”. The “Woodworks” are the group of people from your past who you may have met in school or perhaps during a boating accident that come seemingly out of nowhere or from the deep recesses of the forest known as the Internet to declare that you are indeed friends with them despite having been out of your life for somewhere between ten to fifteen years. While there are a decent portion of these so-called “Woodworks” that are recognized as welcome additions, many of them might as well go back to existing in the vacuum where they came from.

So why do they do it? Why do these Woodworks feel the need to re-establish contact with your metaphorical mission control? Maybe they’re hoping to rekindle a long dormant friendship or rehash some of the good ol’ times. While those possibilities sound marginally fantastic, chances are they just want to add you to their impressive roster of people they sort of know, but aren’t planning on speaking with any time soon.No matter how curious you are about their well being or their whereabouts…all you are to them is a personal ornament on display for their own popularity’s sake that they can occasionally spy on.

This begs the question, why even accept woodworks into your social networking circle? Well, fellow Internet denizen, while there is no positively concrete answer to this query, there are certain acceptable responses; the first is that becoming friends with them may arouse enough curiosity in said person that they might see fit to rediscover your once unbreakable bond. However, the most popular reason for acceptance of said netquaintances is the hope that adding them to your friend roster will result in a future hand job or awkward sexual encounter made possible by a binge drinking outing.

In the early days of Social Networking on Friendster my policy towards “Woodworks” was what I would abbreviate as N.W.A. as in NO WOODWORKS ALLOWED. However, as time wore on though, I found this policy to be harder and harder to follow as more and more actual friends started adding people willy nilly and their friends with whom I was only a casual acquaintance would see fit to add me as a friend. In order to avoid any initial awkwardness that might occur if I were to ever see those people in person again, I would accept them into my circle.

As Friendster died out and Myspace emerged on the Social Networking landscape with shirtless abandon, I found myself reasserting my NWA policy. There was a certain incident early on where I rejected someone who had been very nice to me in High School because I was certain of the fact that I wasn’t going to ever hang out with them, thus there was no point to accepting their digital friendship. When people on Myspace friended me whom I didn’t recognize I would politely send them an email asking, “To what to do I owe the pleasure of this friend request.” Most responses were along the lines of “I”m friends with your friend” or “you seemed like a cool person” and despite my initial policy, I found myself hypocritically allowing them to join the exclusive “Friends of Evan Kessler Club”.

It was also towards the beginning of the reign of Myspace that another “Woodwork” approached me to join another Social Networking site called Multiply. The “Woodwork” in question was a girl I knew from summer camp who barely ever gave me the time of day. Despite my initial misgivings and my general feelings about “Woodworks”, I joined the site.

Within a week of being on the site, I had written a post about my disenchantment with the site’s features. However, I was unaware that unless specified, the post would go out to the entire site. As a result, the particular “Woodwork” in question was mortified by my opinions due to the fact that she was friends with the developers. She asked me not to say anything negative about the site, which was essentially asking me not to have an opinion. I thought this was the lamest thing I had ever heard and never really attempted to use the site again. I should have spent the next week spewing negative comments just to spite her, but that wouldn’t have been very adult of me. Either way, I didn’t owe her anything. All she had ever given me was a lame new way to socially network with people I didn’t care about with a side of unwarranted criticism.

Now as we bask in the Facebook period of the Social Networking Era…we’ve been blessed with many gifts. We have the ability to play scrabulous with our friends online or digitally poke them when we’re not physically trying to poke them. However, one thing still persists and that’s the “woodworks”. Nary a day goes by when someone doesn’t come out of the woodwork to say, “Hey Evan, we were friends once…let’s be friends and ignore each other just like old times.” While I don’t claim to be utterly faultless in this ultimately painless though soulless act, I try my best to combat it. It’s as simple as writing a note that says…”Hey how’s it going?” See, it’s not so hard to at least pretend you care.

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One Response to “The Woodworks”

  1. […] You may recall a similar post in which I railed against people coming out of “the woodworks” to befriend not only myself, but tons of other people they’ve proven to have no interest in […]

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