Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Will YOU Be My Facebook Friend?

This just in from the trenches:

Judges and lawyers in Florida can no longer be Facebook friends.

In a recent opinion, the state’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee decided it was time to set limits on judicial behavior online. When judges “friend” lawyers who may appear before them, the committee said, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, since it “reasonably conveys to others the impression that these lawyer ‘friends’ are in a special position to influence the judge.”

In practice, of course, actual friends and Facebook friends can be as different as leather and pleather, and the committee did recognize that online friends were not the same as friends in the traditional sense. A minority of the panel would have allowed Facebook friendship, which it characterized as more like “a contact or acquaintance” without conveying the notion of “feelings of affection or personal regard.”
(courtesy NYTimes.com)
Aside from the author's outright theft of my famous "leather and pleather" analogy, this article makes me smile in the same way as I did when Congress weighed in on the baseball steroid scandal and when the media thought we needed to know that Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger is his wife's "hero in the bedroom."

All are prime examples of people's time wasted for no good reason. Who gives a shit if judges are Facebook friends with lawyers? Is it not more important to make sure that judges and lawyers are honest? Why not spend time policing the actual problem of undue influence, rather than merely pay lip service to the task by taking time away from real cases to dictate people's Facebook friends?

Meanwhile, to all you judges and lawyers out there, I am truly sorry that, as a result of this senseless decision, people all over the world will now have a skewed perception of your coolness.

When the hot girl from high school (now fat with kids) cruises the net late at night, looking up potential gold mines with a Virginia Slim Menthol 100 pressed firmly between her lips, she will laugh derisively when she sees you only have 32 friends, 28 of whom are members of your extended family) and write some cruel post on your wall like "Some things never change, dweeb-o! LOL!" and it will hurt you more than anybody will ever know.

Look on the bright side, though, Judge Dweebo--you could always exact revenge via a groundbreaking legal decision that limits the number of Facebook friends to 32 systemwide. Or maybe the entire legal community will quietly retreat into the dark Filipino underworld that is Friendster and nobody will notice?