I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and pondering the social networking phenomenon. I have 181 friends on Facebook. Yikes, that seems like a lot. I am quite particular about adding people that I don’t know though. Apart from the foreign wives community here in Japan, I have no friends that I don’t know in real life on there. But you know, if you’re networking with people you only know through Facebook/My Space, whatever your poison is, the concept of “friends” is also a strange one. What would be a better word to use..networkers? possible friends? friends of friends? could be lunatic friends? people I knew when I was at school/a child, etc.?
I was “friended” by a girl I went to school with, then got requests/suggestions, etc. for other school friends. I accepted them all. I’m not sure why I did that. Ok, I just wanted to see what they were doing now and whether they looked older/fatter/balder (yikes, that last one isn’t really a concern of mine personally) than I do now. So I nosed over their pics, statuses, etc. etc., and always felt a bit left out if they had no photos for me to nose at. After a while, there were loads of status updates from old school “friends” (there’s that word again) that I really didn’t care too much for. It was when one of them turned out to be openly extremist points of view statuses (“get the foreigners out of the U.K.” type of posts), that I started to DELETE my friends. First him, then another..’hmm, I was never this girls friend at school..come to think of it, she was a bit of a bitch to me..’ kind of revelations, and I started getting a bit more ruthless in my deleting. One girl who I deleted because I was fed up of her moaning. Let’s just say she was very hard up and living on her own with 5 children, often having to take refuge at shelters, and then she got pregnant, on purpose. Now that was her choice, and she has a right to it, but I don’t agree with it. I especially don’t agree with it when she moans incessantly about what a crap hand in life she’s been dealt, and her children are suffering because of it. I felt a bit bad about deleting her, because she was picked on at school, and I think she’s a nice person, but I just didn’t want to do battle and I could feel myself seething. And I’m not sure how many people I deleted at this point, but she was the first one who attempted to “re-friend” me (all these new verbs that FB is creating). I ignored it. Then another request came, I ignored it. Then I got a message from her to ask if I had any idea why I kept disappearing off her friends list. Now this made me feel guilty. And obviously I am a big wimp. But it made me think about stuff.
In real life, when you realise that you have grown apart from friends and acquaintances, you just “drift apart”, right? Right?
Wrong. You make a conscious or sub-conscious decision to end that friendship. If you are bothered about a friend, you have to make the effort. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but if you really think about it, a friendship never really needs to end unless one or both of the people involved decide to end it.
Then you have Facebook and the like. What happens then? When you want to cut someone out of your life? Personally, I need closure. I want to deny access to people that leave sarcastic (very often a.k.a. I want to say something mean and cloak it under supposed jokes) comments on my wall/photos. I want to make a clean break. I don’t care about this persons life and I don’t want them in mine. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But I’d like to bet that there are loads of people who think this without even realising that they think it. I know I didn’t, and I feel a bit ashamed of saying so, but in the interests of honesty, I wanted to put it out there. The hardest parts are when you make friends that are mutual friends. You know that they will know sooner than non mutual friends that they have been deleted when you comment on their friends stuff. And then of course you threaten your social standing in the group. I had that kind of situation a few times too, but I can proudly say I stuck to my guns. If there are so-called friends consistently making irritatingly rude comments on your stuff, why are you letting them? I’ll never umderstand why people friend you and then make consistent negative comments. To make themselves feel better about themselves? Probably. I’m sensitive, so I let these people get to me. I think that’s why I delete. I can’t take it, and I don’t see why I should have to take it for the sake of mutual friends. Selfish? Maybe. But it is only really going to affect me anyway, no harm done. If my mutual friends take issues with my relationship with someone else then they aren’t really worth it either, right?
Then you have the hide and block options. These are wussy ways out in my opinion, but useful if you have “connections”. I mean this in terms of business or other necessary friends. I don’t have these types of friends, but I can see why this might be a useful tool. I recently found that I had been blocked from an ex-colleagues wall or from posting on her status. I could see her posts, but the only thing I could do was to send her a message. I sent her a message saying I didn’t seem to be able to post on her wall (now I sound like the idiot who didn’t realise I was being blocked, because I WAS!). When I got no reply, I deleted her. To me, blocking someone from interacting with you and then ignoring their message is a big enough hint, so I made it easy for her. You know, I’d rather be deleted, but maybe I’m not really as tactful as some.
What I don’t understand though is the constant requesting for “refriending” (another verb..). Isn’t it obvious? Don’t you have to click on an “are you sure you want to unfriend ____?” box to delete? It’s pretty hard to do that by accident, although I will accept that it’s technically possible, but two or three times your request gets ignored? Give up! If this person doesn’t want to be your friend then why would you want to be theirs?!?
And the drama you can witness/be a part of with people that you don’t even know/haven’t seen for years. It’s pretty intense. More than in real life, perhaps? Because all the communication is written, it’s hard to really know people, understand tones and nuances. It’s pretty hardcore communication, and easy to get wrong at times too.
So these days, I think hard about making friends on Facebook. Because once you are friends with someone, you are always going to have to deal with the possible comeback. Sometimes there is no closure, and you are open to attack, in a way. And although you might not think it from the above deleting comments, I really prefer to avoid the delete option…