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Falling Out Of Friend On Facebook And Life

Updated on September 25, 2009


When I first joined Facebook there was almost an immediate glut of people wanting to “friend” me. It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. While I’ll admit there were people that I thought I had gotten rid of from my life long ago and were now suddenly here trying to get back into my life (many did not make it, staying in Facebook purgatory – the inbox – or just being “ignored”) on the whole the Facebook connection was a good way to sort of re-connect with those from high school, past jobs, etc. But as time moved on, I found that my inbox was less and less full. What had once annoyed me, that there were so many people trying to “friend” me had now turned into an old Peggy Lee song, “Is that all there is?” As time moved on there were less and less people trying to “friend” me and so I began to think, is the number of people trying to find me on Facebook so finite that I’ve reached my limit for doing nothing and having people want to “friend” me? Sure, I’ve done some half-assed searching for people and friended some that way but the exciting thing for me was having someone else seek you out and you having to do nothing. Falling out of “friend” on Facebook and life – Don’t Get Me Started!

As I learned more and more about the security settings (placing certain people in what I called the “censored” list – meaning they could see very little to nothing of what was posted on my “wall”) I began to realize that some of the people who either accepted my “friend” request or I had accepted theirs suddenly seemed non-existent in the land of Facebook. Could they have done what I did to them? Put me in a group that didn’t really get to see all that much of their “wall” or information? It’s a little hard to get indignant about something that you have done to someone else when you find out they’ve done it to you, yet I still managed to do it. When my brother and I would fight when we were little my father would say, “You can dish it out but you can’t take it.” Well, that’s exactly how I feel right now, it’s okay for me to isolate certain people in the Facebook world but I’ll be damned if I’ll let them do the same to me. Well, let’s face it, even a control freak like me understands he has no control over this but it won’t stop me from bitching about it.

So then as often happens with my mind, I began to think about the whole idea of Facebook friends and how life used to be before Facebook. Remember when you had “real” friends that you would call, email and even back in the day write a letter to? Think about all of the people that you managed to keep in touch with, without a “wall” a “quiz” to forward or an online who’s who of your life. In my opinion, it was easier to compartmentalize the people in your life than Facebook friends. You knew if you told a particular person something that everyone in your immediate circle would know within hours. You knew the people who would take your secrets to the grave and as awful as it may sound, you un-friended people, just like Facebook only in real life you did it by allowing more and more time go between “get togethers” or talking on the phone until they “got the message” and faded away from your life. Sure it may be easier to “un-friend” someone with the touch of a button but does it hurt any less then when you came to the conclusion that a friend (or friends) were no longer moving in the same direction as you and so you moved on without them?

Look, most of the people I have on my Facebook are acquaintances at this point. They either knew me in high school or from some other time in my life. I haven’t evolved all that much but the online friendships renewed by Facebook in most cases require very little and are as surface level as they come. A comment on someone’s wall every once in awhile, a note on their birthday perhaps but on the whole it requires very little and I have to give very little of myself. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I miss the burden of friendship. The need because they were a friend and meant so much to you that you returned the call, email or letter as soon as possible. Now I can allow something to sit in my Facebook inbox for over a week or so without responding. If I see it on someone’s Facebook wall and they didn’t email me directly, I feel less and less the need to comment or email or call them.

With everyone practically putting every bowel movement on theirs on their Facebook page, I somewhere along the way became so desensitized to my real friend’s lives that I felt if it was on Facebook it somehow didn’t count. Taking the thought, “Well, if they really wanted me to know they would have called or emailed and not allowed me to find out with everyone else in the world on their Facebook page.” Recently a friend put on their Facebook page that their mother was going through a rough time medically and asked for prayers. I said a silent prayer but never responded to the “friend” because I don’t know, it seemed too trite to post on their wall that I was concerned for them and that I had said a prayer for them, their mother and their family.  Was it Facebook, the public notice to all or simply that this was someone that I used to spend almost every waking moment with over twenty years ago and hadn’t seen in about that long due to physical and emotional distance that I gave myself permission to not respond to their Facebook post? Another friend thanked people on Facebook for condolences about one of their family members who had passed. I didn’t even know someone had died in their family. I knew Army Archer of Variety and Patrick Swayze had died but not this person’s relative. How do you respond to that one? I did nothing.

So as life and technology moves on, I just want to remind everyone (including myself) that a personal note or call to a friend is still important and holds more weight than a “thumbs up” or one sentence post on their Facebook wall. That some “friends” were friends during a period of your life and not in it for the long haul and its okay to let them go from your current day life while reveling in the great times you once had. And finally that whole crap about “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” is all well and good but if you’re going to dish it out you need to be prepared to take it too. Falling out of “friend” on Facebook and life – Don’t Get Me Started!

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