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The Column

Steve Hofstetter is Your Friend
11/13/05

It's finally happened. I've been banned from the internet. Which is amazing, considering some of the creeps on there.

I'm exaggerating, of course. It's what I do. All the time. See?

Here's the real story. For those of you who are new to this column and who don't like reading archives, I launched a quest last Christmas Eve for 10,000 friends on facebook.com. For those of you who are older than I am, facebook.com is a community website where college students try to hook up with other college students and send each other chain mail. Sometimes an occasional comedian drops by to create a biting social commentary and get a ton of publicity. And chain mail.

By mid January, I had 15,000 friends. I expanded the quest, and sought 100,000 friends. I got that a few months later. Did I stop there? If you think I did, you must really be new to this column.

I kept adding friends and friends kept adding me, totaling up to about 200,000. And then, the crash came.

Facebook's programmers were not expecting to run into someone quite as obsessive as Steve Hofstetter. So with more than 1% of every college student in the world on my friends list, the site started slowing down.

That's understandable. Before I came around, facebook's biggest concern was girls who displayed their cleavage and phone numbers and then wondered why people would call them. I, on the other hand, wondered which strip club will eventually hire them. You may think I'm mean, but anyone who can't figure out that removing a phone number from a website will prevent random phone calls isn't suited for a day job. Or at least a job I can write about in a family newspaper.

But then came my friend quest. My quest amounted to millions of extra page-views, especially once people started copying me. There are several hundred friend questers now, though none of them ever broke 100,000. Just call me Wilt Chamberlain, because my record will stand. His points record, you pervert.

When facebook emailed me this weekend, I understood the situation was tense. My page was simply too big, and was slowing the site down for everyone. I never wanted that to happen - how could I live with myself if I was the reason there were fewer college hookups? That'd put me in the same category as herpes and RAs.

So I made a suggestion. I never thought I would say this, but it seemed the only possible solution.

"Reset me."

And they did.

Gone was my mammoth friend list. Gone was my two degrees of separation from almost every college student in the world. But most importantly, gone was my chain mail. Hello, silver lining.

The facebook people were nice enough to accommodate me all this time, and nice enough not to boot me once I was starting to, well, ruin their site. Instead of deleting my profile, they simply rolled back my odometer. The funniest part is that they did it overnight, and by the time I woke up I had 22 new friend requests. I have a feeling that by next year they'll have to roll it back again, or I may have to get a new car entirely.

I have experienced some very cool things through the quest - new friends, a documentary made about me, and an eerie window into just how dumb people can be.

"I know your profile explains everything, and so does your picture, and you just told me, but who are you?"

The chain mail may have stopped, but I still get those dumb "who are you" messages. And I probably always will.

"I just saw you doing standup at a club. Are you a comedian?"

Facebook will always have a special place in my heart and if it is every written, my biography. I thank the staff for not hating me for slowing their site, and I thank the 200,000 people who went with me on my ridiculous journey. Though I feel like a chapter of my life has been closed, I know it's only a matter of time before boredom and obsessiveness lead me to write a new one.

There's always MySpace.

Archives
*Kings vs. Sports Illustrated
*Paris Hilton is No Mother Theresa
*Putting the "Fan" in "Fanatic"
*Thinking Man: Happy New Year
*Jewzapalooza
*I'm Listening
*Punky Brewster Scares Me
*Don't Get Smart With Me
*Checking Out a Check Up
*Yeah, Thanks
*Steve Hofstetter is Your Friend
*Post Halloween Wrap-Up
*My Letter to Me
*The Night the Heat Went Off
*Turn That Crap Off
*You Might Be a Redhead If
*To My Future Children
*Shine Your Shoes, Mista?
*Flying Forward
*DotCom Dating Dish
*Paging Paige Page
*Watch While You Eat
*You Have Got to Be Kidding Me
*Come Home, Rachel I. K'Benjamin
*Get Out Of My Bathroom
*Subway Going Under
*Driving Forces
*Singles Anonymous
*Know When to Fold Em
*The Mirth of America
*Also Known As
*Smooth Criminal
*What That Mass Email Really Said
*Dude, Where's Your Car?
*Thinking Man: Can't We All
*You Might Be a Redneck
*A Nice Hawaiian Punch
*100,000 Friends
*Mine is Bigger Than Yours
*Good Answer
*T Stands for Terrible
*I Love You Guys
*Mitch, All Gone
*Birth of a Hate Mail Archive
*Never Do Today What...Ooh, Shiny
*Can You Hear Me Now?
*Fast Food, Slow Digestion
*Homeland Security, Eh?
*Quality Training Purposes
*The Show Went On
*Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
*Putting My Foot Down
*Breaking the Chain Mail
*Happy Valmochrismaweenygiving
*Mr. Clean's Illegitimate Brother
*The Quest For 10,000 Friends
*Forgetting Paris
*Magnetically Challenged
*New Year's at the Barefoot Boogie
*Instant Carma's Gonna Get Me
*The Biggest Loser
*Steve vs. Kentucky
*Gone in a Flash
*How to Destroy Your Car
*Ghouls, Goblins, and Candidates
*My Freedom From Your Freedom
*Drive Unto Others
*Please Don't See This Movie
*I Love The Clip Shows
*Column of Atonement
*Happy Anniversary, Sugarhill
*Life, 9/11, and the Interstate
*Your Band Sucks
*Spending Wisely
*The Blind Dating the Blind
*Grilled Cheese With a Side of Hip Hop
*The Drive to 25
*Are You There Margaret? It's Me, God.
*Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House
*Seacrest! Out!
*Harder Than You Think
*Glad To Be Here
*Thought for Food
*Feeding the Meter
*She's Ready For Her Close Up
*Paging John Hughes
*Excusing America's Gas Problem
*Extra, Extra, Extra Long Time
*The Finals Countdown
*Your Friends and Mine
*The Future Mrs. Bueller
*Toasting Not Toasting
*A Tall Order
*Snaking Your Engine
*My Hair is the Color of Tomato Soup
*The Solace System
*You Say Potato
*It’s Getting Less Cold in Here
*This is Not a Virus
*Pitchers and Catchers
*Another Night Not at the Movies
*Higher and Higher
*To Write A Wrong
*They Call it Super for a Reason
*Imagine All the People
*Lost Wages, Nevada
*This Just In
*Why Are All My Stands Red?
*For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls
*Silent One Day Sale, Holy One Day Sale
*I Want To Be That Guy
*Felicity Doesn't Always Mean Happiness
*That Time of Year
*My Cranberry Sauce Looks like a Can
*The Legend of Fat Dead Steve
*Two Beldings in One Building
*Happy Halloween From Happy Valley
*Three Stations and Nothing On
*15 Shots of Nostalgia
*Here's To the Dancing Guy
*Teaching an Old Dog New Sticks
*If You Could Choose Just One Dumb Question...
*Obligatory Pun on The Word Tired
*I've Grown Accustomed to Your Wet Nose
*What Do You Want For Your Birthday?
*What a Long, Strange Trip
*Open Letter to My UPS Man
*That Better Be Your Foot
*The Abandoned Lot is Always Greener
*Putting Down the Pieces
*Take One Down, Pass It Around
*Here, You Throw This Away
*Being Green at the Box Office
*Who Wears Short Shorts?
*America is an Okay Place to Be
*You Can't Stop the Rain
*Don't Feed the Alpha Males
*Don’t Sweat It
*The Special Plate Blues
*You Deserve It
*The Return to Popcopy
*They're Real, and They're Spectacular
*Keeping Your Prom Misses
*Guerillas in Our Midst
*That Weird No Bread Holiday
*The Ballad of the Buttless
*Something About Being Twenty-Something
*Have You Seen My Cell Phone?
*War, Huh, Yeah, What Is It Good For?
*Leggo My Ego
*I'm a Spazz, You're a Spazz
*Can I Please Keep My Pants?
*Engaged in Conversation
*Welcome to PopCopy
*Hold Me Closer, Tiny Bathroom
*My Two-Bedroom Furbee
*All’s Fare in Love and Daytona
*Open? Shut Them
*I Am Everyday Pimple
*Here Comes the Judge Show
*When, Praytell, Were The Days of Auld Lang Syne?
*What Are You Up To This Weekend?
*The Waiting is the Hardest Part
*A Night Not at the Movies
*Funny, You Don’t Look Flu-ish
*Does This Baby Come With Airbags?
*When The Hogan Family Was Still Valerie
*Blue (Haired) Tuesday
*In Loco Parents
*Moving Is Like A Vaccuum: It Sucks
*Thou Shalt Not Save the World and Get the Girl
*Like Oil and Stuff That Hates Oil
*How to Get Hatemail
*Fungi, Octopi, What’s the Plural of Bus? (Part I
*Fungi, Octopi, What’s the Plural of Bus? (Part I
*It Happens to the Best of Us
*Talking To A Piece of Junk Mail
*When You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees
*ICFS Disorder and Celebrity Kid Growth
*Electricity and Other Things They Cut Off
*When Pigeons Fly
*Goodbye, New York, Goodbye
*La La La-la La La, Sing a Happy Song
*What To Do at Work Besides Work
*Why is This Column Different From All Others?