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Yes, even college English teachers fall for Facebook

I knew I was in deep when I spelled 'you' as 'u.'

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It started innocently enough. Somebody wanted to "friend" me on Facebook. Because I thought she was cool, I clicked. And thus begins the story of my fall from grace.

I'm a 58-year-old college writing teacher. I should wail about another noun being turned into a verb. But I'm also a poet, and thus sometimes charmed by breaking rules.

Years ago, when the type on the screen was still amber, I took heartily to e-mail. Later, in postdivorce, I covertly launched a personal blog under a pen name. And when my 2006 novel came out, I started a website.

But I resisted "social networking" sites. Those were for kids.

A recent CNN report challenged my stereotype, saying 40 percent of Facebook's 37.4 million users are 35 or older. The friend who wanted to "friend" me wasn't a kid. She was talented and trustworthy. I stared at the pop-up box. "Confirm" or "Ignore"? How could I ignore a request to be friends?

Confirm.

Then you must join, the faceless Facebook deacon said. Confirm or ignore?

Confirm.

A rush of unnerving questions followed. Birthdate? Gender? Religious views? Political views? Did I want to post a photo? What is my relationship status? A drop-down menu offered wry options: single, in a relationship, engaged, married, "it's complicated," and "in an open relationship."

"Open relationship?" Do people still have those? Surely this was all a joke.

Next I was supposed to devise a one-sentence "status report." Jan is "eating green jello," I truthfully wrote.

And then requests cascaded in, 10 or 20 a day. I sweated each decision: should I let my students "friend" me? How about my cousins who believe Obama is Muslim?

Twenty "friends" in, it hit me I could "friend" somebody else. More puzzles: If I "friended" a student, where would it stop? Did I dare to "friend" somebody with more power than me, like, say, that politician I campaigned for, or the dean of my college, whose profile photo showed him endearingly needing a shave?

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