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February 28, 2009

'Confessions of a Facebook Social Climber'

Dog --- facebook cartoon

Washington, D.C. lawyer and investigative reporter Jeffrey Scott Shapiro's above-headlined Op-Ed page essay appeared in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

I couldn't stop laughing as I read about how he parlayed a real-life friend's friend's acquaintance with former president George W. Bush's nephew into his own Facebook "friendship" with, among others, Dick Armey, Bob Woodward, Jeffrey Toobin, Daryn Kagan, Kristy Swanson and Charlie Sheen.

Except when he contacted Charlie Sheen's publicist, Stan Rosenfeld, "Within a few hours I found out that my Facebook friend Charlie Sheen is not the real Charlie Sheen — even though the 1,481 people he's friends with think he is."

Shapiro continued, "Maybe the Facebook Charlie Sheen is really a 14-year-old kid in Bangladesh, or a Dallas-based telemarketer who's really bored at work."

Here's the WSJ piece.


Confessions of a Facebook Social Climber

I recently became friends with Charlie Sheen -- but not exactly. It's a little complicated. You see, I've spent the past three months moving up the Facebook social ladder, "friending" more and more important people every day.

My online social aspirations evolved shortly after publishing a piece in this newspaper supporting George W. Bush. My real-life friend Charlotte Wilcher told me that the president's nephew, Pierce Bush, had posted my article on his Facebook profile. Charlotte was a Georgetown alumnus who had a friend who knew Pierce, who was also a Georgetown alumnus.

I sent Pierce a Facebook message, and offered to take him out for a beer at a famous little Georgetown Irish Pub where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie in 1953, and where the CIA used to make sneaky little information exchanges. Pierce told me that he was now living in Texas, but he instantly sent me a friend request. I couldn't believe it -- I was now friends with a member of the Bush family thanks to Facebook.

Suddenly I began to wonder how far I could take this. The possibilities seemed limitless. After all, my friend Katherine Kennedy has over 4,000 Facebook friends and a few months ago, Lifetime created a reality-TV show about her (check out "Blonde Charity Mafia").

After smooth-talking a cute blonde at the Capitol Hill Club on election night, I sent her a Facebook friend request. She accepted. The next day, I noticed that she was friends with former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey. I sent him a friend request and he confirmed me. Now, whenever I send a friend request to someone on the Hill, they can see right away that I'm friends with one of the most powerful Republican congressional leaders in recent history.

They probably think I'm an important guy. I figure that what they don't know can't hurt them.

Since I'm a journalist who has made regular television appearances, I reached out to the producers and correspondents that I already knew. Voila! Once I was friends with them, superstar news personalities like Daryn Kagan, Bob Woodward and Jeffrey Toobin accepted my requests as well. I guess they figured that if I knew other famous journalists, I was important, too.

Around Christmas, I decided to expand my Facebook social climbing and my sense of self-importance. So I reached out to Kristy Swanson, an old acquaintance of mine from elementary school who became a famous Hollywood actress ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). To my surprise, she graciously accepted my friend request and we exchanged some messages.

Heck, that was easy, I thought. What if I tried to become friends with other Hollywood celebs?

Since one of my friends is a renowned West Coast journalist, I scanned his friends to see who I could pick up. To my pleasant surprise, I found out that he knew former Saturday Night Live comic Norm MacDonald, and Hollywood actor Jamie Kennedy ("Scream," "Boiler Room"). I sent both of them copies of my most recent WSJ piece, hoping that my credentials and stellar writing would impress them. Being the nice guys they are, they accepted. Now, I was really feeling cool.

Feeling on top of the world -- hell, I was friends with Norm MacDonald and Jamie Kennedy! -- I found a profile for Charlie Sheen who was mutual friends with my friends, Fox News correspondents Rick Leventhal and Kimberly Guilfoyle. I sent Charlie a friend request, and after telling him I was a "Bud Fox fan" (Bud is his character in the 1987 film "Wall Street") he accepted. But Charlie didn't have any personal photographs. I became suspicious.

I messaged a few of Charlie's other friends and asked them what they knew. One woman told me that she'd asked Charlie why he was using old pictures from the movie "Platoon" instead of newer, personal photographs, and that he told her the reason was his lawyers wouldn't let him.

That sounded ridiculous, so I contacted Charlie Sheen's publicist, Stan Rosenfeld.

Within a few hours I found out that my Facebook friend Charlie Sheen is not the real Charlie Sheen -- even though the 1,481 people he's friends with think he is. His profile is littered with sycophantic comments, thanking him for accepting their friend requests. I guess I'm not the only one seeking self-importance and validation.

Maybe the Facebook Charlie Sheen is really a 14-year-old kid in Bangladesh, or a Dallas-based telemarketer who's really bored at work. I can't help but wonder who my other friends really are.

Facebook has worked wonders for my ego, but Facebook social climbing hurts when it backfires. Although Fox host John Kasich confirmed me (we are acquainted in real life), Sean Hannity can't seem to make up his mind. He hasn't confirmed or rejected me yet. I can't help but wonder if he's been busy, or if he simply hasn't decided whether or not my reporting is up to par.

Two weeks ago, my friend request was rejected by Stephanie Romanov, a former supermodel turned Hollywood actress ("Thirteen Days," "Angel"). We had no mutual friends and I really didn't have any reason to request her friendship except for the fact that she's Stephanie Romanov. I figured it was worth a shot. I guess she saw through my scheme and decided she wanted nothing to do with me. At least now I can say I've been rejected by a supermodel. That still sounds pretty impressive.

Although my so-called friendships with famous people have helped my stock with some celebrities on Facebook, they haven't helped me win over everyone. Last month, a girl from high school rejected my friend request. But I'm not too worried about it. After all, I've still got friends like Charlie.

Mr. Shapiro can be reached on Facebook.

February 28, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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I was expecting him to have more than 300 friends...

Posted by: Nikolas Schiller | Feb 28, 2009 12:23:32 PM

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