the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The Yiddish word "frayndshaft" means
friendship; "kotlet" means hamburger

I have a confession to make:  I'm not on Facebook.  I realize that Facebook--if used properly--can tell me what my friends are doing,  who has broken up, and who needs a little wink and a "shmeykhl" (smile).

Yes, I'm aware that Facebook now has more than 150 million members, and nearly half of them use the network on a daily basis. My children and grandchildren treat Facebook as a tool for communication.

This is a "meshuggeneh velt"--a crazy world.  Some occurrences like the NEED for Facebook, are just beyond explanation. They make little sense to me!

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard class of 2006.  (His parents must be kvelling!)  It was started in February of 2004, and in the beginning the membership was restricted to students at Harvard University.  Then it was subsequently expanded to other Boston area schools, Stanford, and all Ivy League schools within 2 months.

On August 23, 2005, Aboutface Corp. sold the domain name to Facebook for $200,000.

Facebook's projected revenues are $1 billion by 2015.  And the site is the #1 photosharing site on the net.  (BTW, adding a photo application to your Facebook page draws more than twice as much traffic.)

Michael Rosenberg ( says that "Facebook's most popular features are status updates--wich tell the world what you're doing at this very instant--and assorted word games.  If you are between the ages of 25 and 45, you can find most of the people you have ever met in your life on Facebook.  This leads to instant- messaging conversations like:

"So, what have you been up to for the past 25 years?"

"Well, I beat cancer, got married four times, went to jail for trafficking and foiled a bomb plot on my airplane."

"Oh.  Wanna play word Twist?"

A story from Tech Crunch told about a Goldman Sachs broker, Charlie, who spent 4 hours a day over 6 months on Facebook while at work.

Today we hear about Facebook Fatigue. Social network fatigue will set in as people tire of getting yet another invitation from so-called friends to join yet another social network.  Business Week cited Facebook Fatigue as one of "Ten Likely Events in 2008."

Researchers have learned that while people perceive someone who has a high number of friends [on Facebook] as popular, attractive and self-confident, people who accumulate "too many" friends (about 800 or more) are seen as insecure.

The use of Facebook has created many problems.  Northampton General Hospital in England has banned its staff from using Facebook ON THE JOB after a particularly racy photo ended up on a staff members profile.

One of the nurses at the hospital flashed her breasts at a camera and uploaded the picture to her Facebook, allegedly all the while at the hospital.

The problem was not because of her breasts but because there was a patient in the background, which is seen as a breach of patient confidentiality.

Some psychiatrists have found that children growing up alongside the rise of social networking websites (MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, etc.), may have a "potentially dangerous" view of the world.

What are the potential pitfalls?  Dr. Himanshu Tyagi said, "People used to the quick pace of online social networking may find the real world boring and unstimulating."  And the West London Mental Health NHS Trust expert added this could raise the risk of impulsive acts or even suicide.

CNET reported that Facebook set record traffic numbers on Christmas Eve.  During the month of November, 2008, Facebook was averaging 1.42% of all U. S. Internet traffic.  On Dec. 24, they hit a Facebook best 2.18% market share that day.  What caused the strong traffic increase?  Heather Hopkins theorizes that it was a combination of boredom and bad weather ("shlekht veter").  Facebooks's primary markets (NY, Chicago, Washington, Boston, & Philadelphia) were all experiencing bad weather.

She also theorized that people were using their computers as an escape ("antloyfn") from entertaining family members on Christmas Eve.  Considering the youthfulness of Facebook's audience ("oylem"), perhaps the young adults tried to avoid those awkward/awful conversations with relatives you only talk with on holidays.

And now to "der kotlet" story.  The fast-food chain, Burger King, launched a campaign on Jan. 5, 2009, dubbed "Whopper Sacrifice."  Its tag line:  "Friendship is strong, but the Whopper is stronger." Facebook members were asked to "de-friend" 10 others in exchange for a FREE ("umzist") Whopper.  (Facebook members can "friend" people--invite them into their circle of contacts--and also "de-friend" them.)

The result?  Thousands of members jilted each other for burgers.  About 233,906 friends were removed.  What better way to play with the notion of what really is an online "fraynd" than to judge their worth compared with a hamburger.

Perhaps everyone could benefit from trimming 10 people from their Facebook list.  Greg Atwan ("The Facebook Book") recommends culling your friend list once a year to remove total strangers and other hangers-on.

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe adheres to the following Yiddish proverb:

"An alter fraynt iz beser vi naye tsvey." (Better an old friend than two new.)


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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