Today David Beckham officially thanked the 20 million people who had "liked" his Facebook page. Twenty million! That is seriously impressive. It started me thinking about my own, much-valued Facebook
friends - all 311 of them. I like to think that Mr Beckham had a head start on me but I'm starting to catch up now...
It's a long-running joke in our family that I use underhand methods to increase
my Facebook Friend Count. According to my Nearest and Dearest I am only a little better than a common thief. In short, I steal their Facebook friends...
stout in my own defence. This is, after all, what Facebook is all about, isn't it? You make a new friend and the first thing you do is to scroll down their list of names to see who you can steal - I mean, who
you can invite to be a friend of yours too. After all, they can always decline, if they wish. I have a son-in-law of whom I am extremely fond but who has steadfastly refused to befriend me on Facebook. I do not hold this against him (much.)
As a result of my dedication to stealing / inviting new friends, I have an impressive list which includes a cat, a dog, a teddy bear, a radio programme which doesn't exist anymore, two local newspapers and a host of lovely people who (unlike my son-in-law)
didn't rebuff my friendly overtures.
Facebook, in my view, is the 21st Century equivalent of the Births, Marriages and Deaths column. I love the BMD column. I love pondering on the
way the names of the newborn are changing with the times - no more sweet and simple John and Mary. Today's babes either have beautiful but unpronounceable names like Aoife and Niamh - or have reverted to the names of times past - Arthur, Toby, Mabel.
Likewise reading the tributes to lost loved ones in the Deaths or In Memoriam columns quite restores your faith in human nature. For all we read in the newspapers about the breakdown in family
values today, here are the shining tributes which prove the opposite, making my sentimental heart glow and the Usher gene move into overdrive.
Facebook, of course, goes further. No sooner
is the baby born, or the marriage consecrated than there is a photo album to savour. No BMD column can make you feel quite so much a part of someone else's happiness. Nor of their grief - which is why I love being able to send (or receive)
a supportive message in dark times.
Long live Facebook! Long may my friends recruit new friends I can steal from them. And, in true David Beckham fashion, my heartfelt thanks to my 311 Facebook