Have you seen this article in the NYTimes? It’s about defriending, or unfriending, on Facebook. I find the article – from the Whopper thing to the philosophical debate of unfriending – to be exhausting and ridiculous.
To be honest, I hate Facebook. Like HATE. After my experience this summer with AG and his posting of a non-sanctioned photo of me when I was in the fourth grade – the year my mother and her friend conspired to cut off all my hair – I’ve been leery of this whole Facebook thing. But I stay on… you know, with the least amount of effort possible. For example, I (almost) never list a status update. (I will explain later how ALJ punked me on this one.) I never write on my wall or the wall of another. (Did you know other people can read that crap?!) And I refuse to have a photo of myself on my page. I don’t care if this makes some uneasy, especially when that pseudo-Mr.T-mohawk man appears as my picture, or if it makes some question whether I’m hiding from the po-lice… because maybe I am.
But are people really thinking so hard about their Facebook friendships – or, more accurately described, their Facebook non-friendships – that they are contemplating the hows and whys of unfriending someone? I’ve gotten friend requests from people who I love and people I’d be okay to never see EVER again. Regardless, unless an absolute stranger or a totally reprehensible human being, I confirm the friend request. I mean, it’s not like I put anything personal on Facebook. (You know what? There is one piece of personal information on my Facebook profile that recently fucked me up a little bit. But I will save that for another post.) It’s not like I layout my woes or my joys for all of Facebook to read… you know, like I do here. So what’s the big fucking deal? In any event, to call your Facebook friends “friends” – or to think of them as such – seems crazy to me… unless, by “friend,” they actually mean someone I met at age five and haven’t spoken to since age 10-ish. Cause then “friend” would apply.
Seriously, the only thing that Facebook does to help me maintain friendships is to 1) keep flipping through photos in that rotating friend-photo thingy, so as to remind me that I have a friend out there who I really should send an email to, and 2) make sure that gmail-ers have another way to find me when my hotmail account decides that it hates a particular gmail account. But otherwise, we may be overthinking this one. And I know a thing or two about that.
So with the exception of a major meltdown in a relationship, be it a friendship or a sexual relationship, which may actually require unfriending someone just to save yourself from the torture of their stupid status updates and the super-easy cyber-stalking that would inevitably go on, especially in an effort to view the relationship-status field, and to prevent the other person from knowing any details of your life via wall-to-wall convos or photo albums, why would anyone go through the whole rigmarole to unfriend someone? Maybe it’s easier to find the courage/nerve/chutzpah to tell someone that something is wrong in a relationship by blasting it across Facebook.
[Sidebar: This reminds me of a friend of a friend who, just mere hours after an argument with her boyfriend, learned that her boyfriend broke up with her by receiving multiple posts to her wall from various people noting how sorry they were that she and her idiot (my word) boyfriend had broken up. Puzzled, she looked at his profile and noticed that he changed his relationship status from saying that he was dating her to “looking for a relationship” or “single” or something similar. Somehow, these two are still dating. I’m trying not to judge.]
But that act – of outing a problem in a relationship by doing something childish on Facebook – is more akin to acting out, being dramatic, stirring the pot, etc, than anything else. It doesn’t really seem to be about friendships. High drama? Yes. Friendship? Not so much.
Well, I can go on but I won’t. Instead, I will leave you with this. Friendship – real friendship, not cyber pseudo-friendship – is hard. Really hard, in fact. Friendship takes time and effort. It takes communication and honesty. It takes compassion and forgiveness. If we’re lucky, we find a handful of people over the course of lifetime, who truly know us and who we truly know, who enrich our lives in ways that we didn’t think possible. Relationships that, when predicated on trust and honesty, can materially change us for the better. The flip side, of course, is that friendships can break our hearts in unique and profound ways that sexual relationships simply can’t.
But whatever friendship is or isn’t, it can’t be found on Facebook. Because true friendship is found in the present. In the now. In the small things that make up our everyday lives. In real time and face-to-face. Not in a wall-to-wall post wishing someone a happy birthday.