At 3:55 p.m. Saturday, this message was posted on Charlie Humphrey’s Facebook page, along with a photograph of a tented party space at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts:
“Be here. Now.”
And so they came, several hundred of Mr. Humphrey’s 2,135 Facebook friends, wandering out of the hot afternoon into the cool space of the arts center — currently hosting the Pittsburgh Biennial 2014 — and then back out again onto the veranda for what would be Mr. Humphrey’s second annual Facebook party, which he began promoting several months ago.
Mr. Humphrey, CEO/executive director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, did not throw an exclusive event with a carefully curated guest list that was all about power, status, money or looks. (Although of course they were also invited, being among his friends.)
Instead, a real party — in real time — transpired, with an eclectic mix of souls who had actually taken the time to get off their Facebook pages and out into the real world.
Mr. Humphrey joined Facebook on March 28, 2007, and has never looked back. He pretty much lets anyone friend him, and while he can boast a large list, he’s far from Facebook’s limit of 5,000. “I guess I’ve plateaued,” he said.
His postings range from the epigrammatic to the novelistic to the satiric (with a little sophomoric thrown in for good measure), observations seemingly plucked out of the blue:
“Shaming someone, even for motivational purposes, is as simpleminded as cow tipping. And just as cruel,” he wrote on June 23.
There was an extended meditation this winter on “The Blob,” a photo of an ugly piece of slime that Mr. Humphrey found in his backyard and posted, challenging his 2,135 friends to identify it. None did, but after much discussion the blob turned out to be the remains of a candle that had burned though a lawn chair.
It was displayed at Saturday’s party on a pedestal, under glass.
Facebook is loved by many and loathed by just as many, worldwide. Elizabeth “Betty” Asche Douglas, an artist with a studio in Rochester, Beaver County, is in the former camp.
Besides being a powerful tool for connecting with her family and friends, she uses it to market her work. “Facebook is the greatest thing that’s happened in the course of my life,” she said.
Not so for Jeff Ritter of Squirrel Hill, who came to the party even though he’s stopped posting on Facebook. But he still reads it, perhaps in his role as professor and chair of the Communication, Media and Technology Department at La Roche College.
“I lurk,” he said.
He’s also a poster child for Facebook’s networking powers. It turns out he attended the same high school as this reporter. In the 1970s. In New Jersey.
Such is life on Facebook.
By 8 p.m. last evening, Mr. Humphrey appeared to be having an excellent time not being on his Facebook page, based on the photos being posted to his Facebook page.
While he has already met a good number of his 2,135 Facebook friends, he actually managed to meet one of them in person for the first time.
And what happened?
“We posed for a selfie,” he said.
Mackenzie Carpenter: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1949