Chris Bell Mea Culpa

I came across an interesting note on Facebook from former Congressman, former Gubernatorial candidate and former State Senate candidate, Chris Bell, today. The title was "No More Fakebook" which intrigued me so I clicked through. It's about three paragraphs too long, it's rather bizarre, and it's interesting. For all of those reasons, I'm posting it here:

Dear Friends,

I have a painful admission to make. I have been on Facebook since 2006 when I ran for governor - but not really. My campaign staff set up and maintained the page and even after all the campaigning ended, Matt Zeis at Lone Star Strategies, my fundraising firm, was kind enough to keep it going. So, for me, it was more like Fakebook.

It has led to an extraordinary sense of guilt and shame. People would tell me they had sent me emails via Facebook or saw me on Facebook and I would have to hang my head and mumble, "Well, that's really not me." Or like yesterday when my friend Sallie Alcorn assumed I knew about something because I "must have seen it on Facebook" but of course I had no idea what she was talking about.

Then today, Matt asked me if I would send something out to all my friends on Facebook to help one of their clients build her Facebook base or Face Base, for short, and yes, you could refer to my effort in sending the message out as a Face Based Initiative. This request sort of peaked my curiosity and I finally asked Matt how many Facebook friends I have. When he told me I have over 4,000, my guilt and shame soared. I haven't been that popular since high school! Imagine, thousands of people kind enough to become my social networking friends, waiting daily for some sincere expression of gratitude or friendship while I continued to hide behind the more advanced technological skills of Matt Zeis who obviously could maintain the page but who could never be expected to convey the warmth and kindness needed and deserved by my thousands of friends.

So today I said enough is enough; it shall be Fakebook no more. I shall go to Matt's office and I shall learn. I shall actually know my own password and I will begin to communicate myself. I shall look at the pictures people have posted. In fact, before writing this note, I even went so far as to crop a picture that I saw and liked and made it my new profile picture. How liberating!

My only concern is whether I will be able to maintain this torrid pace I have maintained these past few hours or will I soon succumb to laziness and procrastination and let messages go unanswered, proposed friends hang in limbo, photos become dated and irrelevant. Of course I will - sometimes. But other times, I really am going to try to be a good Facebooker.

In all seriousness, I do think this offers a great way to keep up with others in a world and in a city where that just seems to become increasingly difficult. As I announced at the beginning of this year, in addition to continuing as Of Counsel to Patton Boggs and developing business among those looking for representation in DC, I started my own Houston based litigation practice. As I hoped, it has proven to be the perfect balance. With all the change going on in Washington, there are a lot of folks in need of representation on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, there have been quite a few people who have asked me to represent them in civil litigation matters in court - sort of a mixed bag, everything from breach of contract to invasion of privacy. And I'm loving it. I called my former partner and great friend, Annette Henry, the other day after a particularly satisfying day at the courthouse and she asked, "Don't you wonder why you ever stopped?" Not really. At the time, I was ready for a break but now it's exciting and challenging again. And I'm getting to collaborate with some great people: Annette and I are handling some securities matters again - just like the old days when we tried to help as many investors wronged by stockbrokers as possible. And Ashish Mahendru and I have several interesting cases together and are proving to be a good team - if I say so myself.

As for politics, I'm having a good time helping others just like so many of you were kind enough to help me. As fundraising reignites in the coming weeks, I'll be co-hosting and attending a number of events for different candidates. And almost every week here of late, I have appeared on the local FOX-TV affiliate's early Friday newscast, a segment they call FOX Face Off (yes, another face based initiative) opposite former Council Member and now talk show host Michael Berry. And I do mean opposite but while we disagree on whatever the big weekly topic is, we keep it civil and it has actually been a lot of fun. Check it out some Friday.

That's enough for now but I wanted to share a lot to get past some of the guilt and shame discussed earlier. I promise I'll be back. And yes, it really will be me. It's all honest to goodness Facebook from now on.



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