As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Can we really be friends if you don’t use Facebook?


I joined Facebook sometime back in late 2005, I believe. All I really remember is that none of my friends had heard of it and I was hanging around with a bunch of kids. So I just lurked, barely engaged. Over the years, the conversation between my peers regarding Facebook reminded me of the early days of email. “Are you on it?”  (No, not antidepressants.)

Anyone who said “no” (to either email in 1995-8, or Facebook in 2009-11) followed with a litany of reasons that pretty much stacked up to fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of learning something new. Fear of being pestered. Fear of a time sink. Fear of looking stupid on a new technology platform.

Other than LinkedIn (and, when I was President and valiantly competing with LinkedIn) I have not bothered to recruit people to email, or Facebook, or Twitter or any other new platform.  I fear the time sink. I fear the failure too.

Now I find myself in a strange position.  One of my best friends moved across the country last year.  She’s a wonderful person I used to see several times a week in Boston, for an exercise run or walk, and associated catch-up.  We were always deliciously up to speed on each other’s lives.  Now… I walk alone (tip hat to Johnny Cash).  I’m also allergic to the phone, generally. My good friend is “on” Facebook, but not really.  She doesn’t even lurk, unlike my other “resistant” friends.  They at least keep up one side of the equation by checking in, even if they rarely post. When I see them they are up to date on my doings, albeit it’s a largely one-sided deal.  But since I prefer listening to their news, rather than talking about my own, that makes a pretty good bargain. (Introvert? Check.)

This now-distant friend neither lurks, nor posts.  And it has created a singular painful dynamic compared to my other closest friendships.  Here’s the deal….we’ve seen each other a few times in the year since her cross-country move and she is always so….behind.  And so am I.  I have Facebook friends that I haven’t seen since high school who are much, much more connected to the reality of my daily life.  And me to theirs.  They give me advice, they cheer me on, and they share their own trivia and milestones.  But it’s my distant friend I really want to reach.

When I see her, I have this weird dissonance.  She knows nothing. I know nothing. I can’t easily remember what to tell her.  And it’s not even the big milestones I share on Facebook that I really want to share with this friend…it is all the photos of these events, and trivia of daily life.  The reality is I am not really likely to remember that hilarious chance encounter in a coffee shop, or whip out photos of a vacation when I see her.

I could treat her like my elderly mother-in-law and really prep for our visits–to catch her up on my news.  But this is my good friend.  It used to be so easy.  I’m somehow ashamed to admit this, but I get childishly impatient when we meet. My reaction is as though she has been not picking up the phone or deleting my emails, unanswered.  I know Facebook is a personal choice. And totally optional. But is it really?

9 Responses to “Can we really be friends if you don’t use Facebook?”

  1. Michael

    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked the
    -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I
    get 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from
    that service? Thank you!

    • julespieri

      Oh man Michael. That is so aggravating and I have no idea how to remove you…that would be on your end most likely. Are you getting four emails for responses to just this Facebook post, or for all the comments on my blog? I am getting a lot of spammy comments lately so I hope it is the former and not the latter. Just read the ones on this post…they are all spam in fact. I alert WordPress every time but they do not take them down. Grrrr.

  2. Roma

    Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and
    i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses?
    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything
    you can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support
    is very much appreciated.

    • julespieri

      Alas, I have had the quantity of spam on this blog go up exponentially in the last six months. And I have not found a solution. (But also have not really tried.) I agree…it can drive you insane.

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