Neal D Retke For President

Neal D Retke woont in Austin, Texas. Victor Van Rossem in Gent, België, 8000 kilometer daarvandaan. Onder normale omstandigheden hadden ze nooit van elkaars bestaan afgeweten, maar Facebook bracht daar verandering in. Gebaseerd op een enkele gemeenschappelijke vriend en een aantal gedeelde muzikale ‘likes’, stelde Facebook aan Victor voor om vriend te worden met Neal.
Aangezien echte vriendschap zich niet afspeelt op een computerscherm, besloot Victor om naar Austin te vliegen in de hoop de flamboyante Neal te vinden en zo uit te zoeken of Facebook gelijk had…


In the Late Middle Ages, people were mostly busy trying not to die of Black Death. But ever since the plague disappeared, and people don’t die anymore, we have been spending our time on Facebook. It’s like a world, parallel to ours, except that it is much more pleasant. Once you’re on it, you can be friends with anyone you like, whoever they are and wherever they live. Facebook itself even picks out people for you to be friends with.
That’s what happened to me: Facebook knows that there is a man living in Austin, Texas, a man by the name of Neal D Retke. And Facebook is convinced that, in spite of the age and facial hair difference, Neal and I are meant to be friends. Facebook told me and now, of course, it is my duty to fly to Austin and to be friends with Neal.
But this quest involves some difficulties: Neal can’t know that I am coming, because the magic of making friends involves some element of surprise. But of course, I don’t know exactly where he lives. All I know is that he is one of Austin’s 800 000 inhabitants, and that he likes the annual kite festival at Zilker Park.
Will I find Neal, using only what little information I can find on his Facebook profile? Is it possible to be friends with a total stranger? Is Neal as crazy as he looks like on his profile pictures? Is Facebook one of 21st century’s miracles, or is it to friendship what the black plague was to life? For answers to all these questions and more, look out for Neal D Retke For President!