De-frienders and De-friendees
January 17, 2009 § 4 Comments
Today, I was on facebook looking through a friend’s friend list and saw a friend of mine whose profile I hadn’t checked out in a while. When I clicked on this friend’s name to see what was new on her profile, I got the pop-up window of the non-friend.
“Wait a second,” I thought. “We’re friends.”
And as my brain cranked through all the possibilities, I realized, “Holy crap, I’ve been de-friended.”
I’ve written about how many “friends” I have that I wouldn’t really consider a “friend”, more like an acquaintance or some other relationship, but this one hurt because this was a person that I actually, like, really like. I’ve known her since junior high and when I saw her on facebook, I was very happy. (Yes, a lot of modifiers in this paragraph. It’s for good reason, though: It’s very true.)
But something happened on the way to the cleaners. You see, she wrote on my wall when we first became friends, and I, in a move of obscene density, never wrote her back. So, I assume from here that this made her mad and she de-friended me.
F– that guy.
Yes. F– me.
It wasn’t just that she was offended by something that happened in a virtual environment, she also ended up sending me a message that she was angered by simply de-friending me. And so I ended up sending her an apology letter asking if we could be “friends” again. Seriously. Over facebook.
Thus, the crux:
To my new de-friend, me not replying was every bit as offensive as her having called me to say hello and never calling her back. Except, in some ways, not replying on facebook was worse. Why? Because facebook is even easier socially than making a phone call. Frankly, facebook lowers the bar for effort so low that when you don’t reply, people get really offended. And for good reason: It takes, what? 30 seconds of effort to write on a friend’s wall? And then all the profile information, photos, and everything else do the rest of the catching up for you. There’s no 45 minute conversation, awkward silences, or fumbled good-byes. There’s simply:
Hi, great to see you doing so well. We always had a good time hanging out and I have a lot of good memories of you. If you’re around, maybe we could get together some time? In the meantime, take care with everything, good luck with your son, and keep in touch.
So, yes: Even in the facebook world, relationships require a level of attention and care commensurate with the level of friendship you have in the 3-D world. In this way, the virtual world is merely a medium for real feelings. And just as in the 3-D world, the relationships are tricky because some relationships you care about and some you don’t, some need tending, some don’t, some friends just don’t like to be on facebook that much, and some refuse to be on it at all.
But it isn’t so hard to say hello and we must not forget this. And if you think it’s hard to say hello, think about how much harder it is to make up.