The Unfriending of People on Facebook…A Memoir

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So, you woke up this morning and found out you had two people who “unfriended” you on Facebook. The sad part, is that you can’t figure out just exactly who it was who unfriended you at first. That’s where my thoughts come into focus this morning. Social media has created a place for many of us to connect with people we haven’t seen in many years. In some cases, it winds up being fantastic; a reunion, a rekindling of long lost times, and in many cases getting together and reliving old memories while making new ones. It’s a first world problem for sure, but one that has slowly become a part of our daily lives.

As I sit here, with other tabs open on my computer, some open to news about the devastating quake in Nepal, another open to a class I’m interested in taking, and yet another few open to stories I’d like to write about here, there always seems to be that little white F in a blue square. It used to be a place where I felt among “friends”, people that mattered to me, and I to them. It was a place where I felt I could write about my feelings, challenges, celebrate my children’s achievements and feel that people truly cared. Then, I had a conversation with a friend. That person told me that perhaps I shared too much. It was suggested that I say too much about my personal goings on and might become a subject of eye-rolling ridicule. The thought never occurred to me that friends would/could do that to me.

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I think back to those (I know who they are) who unfriended me. These “friends” didn’t take the time to write a note and say, “Hey, you know, I really don’t think things are working out for us as friends here.” Or perhaps, “We just don’t see eye to eye and our friendship isn’t what I thought it was”. Like most anonymous actions on the web, they just clicked a button. If you were out to dinner with a friend, would you just get up and walk away without saying anything? Certainly not without some sort of major provocation, and even then, wouldn’t you say something first? There have been a lot of articles and general talk lately about how social media has disconnected us as a society. Sure, there are much bigger problems and issues out there, but that doesn’t make this one not worthy of mentioning. These people are so afraid to own up to their actions that they take things a step further; they block you. It kind of makes me laugh a little because it says, “I’m taking all my toys, going home, unplugging my phone and locking my door” all while sticking their tongue out. I personally would rather keep my door open to friends and their opinions and share my toys, but that’s just me. I’ve long worn my heart on my sleeve and my gullibility is the stuff of legend. I’ve learned to compensate over the years but just not giving a crap when things like this happen, but I do take the time to at least think about them and wonder about the justification of it all.

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I realize as we grow older and our lives morph into adulthood, many of us go our separate ways. Some of the people on my “friends list” are people I haven’t been in the room with since elementary school or high school, and even then I wasn’t really friends with them. In some cases, they outright didn’t like me. So why would I call people like that a friend? Perhaps I’m really that blind and oblivious to the fact that people just want to see what other people are up to, kind of like a little virtual gossip window to peek into, to discuss among their “friends”. What I wonder about is why I always thought that others were like me. I truly care about the photos my friends share. I enjoy selfies and pictures of food people are making, eating out, sharing with family. Photos of people and their vacations make me smile. Hearing of my friend’s children and their wonderful achievements and triumphs are goings on that matter to me.

While I don’t watch sports or TV (I watch one cable series and basically documentaries, but no sitcoms, reality shows or other regular programming), I see my friends going to games or sharing plots and discussions about their favorite shows. However, I respect their opinions and ideas and just see them as people living their own lives in a way that makes them happy. I may not like a show about people stranded on a island, but my friend might. Sadly though, I’ve had to really take a hard look at the people I call friend and wonder who they are to me. I have slowly started to move away from sharing things about my life with people. For the most part, I will keep my broad based yet heartfelt writing here, under an umbrella of anonymity. My conversation with that actual friend opened my eyes and really made me think about things and they were right…I DO need to take a step back and think about what I say to my “friends”.

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Perhaps in this world of status updates, memes, opinions and news clips, we are losing ourselves. Maybe we need to think more deeply about the people in our lives and connect on a different, better level. Sure, there are some people whose friendships mean the world to me and without Facebook, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy knowing them at the level I do. Sometimes they are in different countries and being able to share chats and photos are precious ways to keep in touch. I never thought that the people I would be most concerned about would be the ones right here in my town; people I thought were “friends”. I guess that’s for them to figure out now because they made the choice to “unfriend”, not me. I would have taken the time to be the person of integrity my parents raised me to be. It may have taken me a long time to truly figure out who that person is, but now that I have, I know I am capable of much more as a friend.

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One comment

  1. Social Media is an enigma in itself, an object, but also a contradiction. Media has become a one-way street, directing information from the sources to the recipients, but a social connection is a two-way street, saying “hello” as we pass by others going along, perhaps in the same direction, perhaps going the other way, but still connecting somewhere along the way.

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