Friday, August 17, 2012

All words, no pictures

I was going to write about this in a "Quick Takes" post, but then I realized it's something that's really bothering me--has been bothering me quite a bit lately, in fact--so I decided to give it its own post. 

When do you decide to unfriend people on Facebook? It's funny how much of a blessing and a curse Facebook is all at once--it keeps us in touch with people you would otherwise lose contact with, but it certainly has a way of unnaturally prolonging certain relationships past their actual lifespan. (Zombie friendships?) And sometimes "keep in touch" basically means "Facebook stalking," which isn't actually the same thing, is it? Some of these friends are people I used to be quite close to, and still care about very much; but our values have become radically different. 

Which is okay. Life happens like that, even though fading friendships are sad. Facebook makes it harder, I think, by keeping those people in our lives, no matter how superficially, reminding us tangibly of what's been lost.

And yet, "unfriending" someone on Facebook means something. It has an air of finality to it. It is a decision to walk away, rather than a natural fading. 

So I don't do it. I unsubscribe from newsfeeds so that I can't see posts, sometimes. Instead I occasionally visit their actual pages, which is less passive anyway--taking more of an active interest in that person and how they're doing.

Here's the part that bothers me. I get married. I have a baby. Big and happy life changes that go by without commentary from old friends. For all I can tell, they never notice my Facebook page. 

Except that I post something pro-life or conservative ... and they are all over it, explaining how wrong I am. 

I have friends I disagree with, even argue with, but who actually care about me and what's going on in my life. Instead, these people that I used to be close to seem to not care at all, and yet take the time and energy to tell me they think my values suck. 

It hits close to home. And it is really hard for me to respond with love (which often means not responding), rather than going all passive aggressive and pulling out the "used to be friends" card. 

I guess I have to learn to let go of things that other people do ... because you can't just go around "deleting" people in real life anyway, can you? 

3 comments:

  1. Well, you could, but then it would be considered "mean" and you'd be a "bitch." >.<

    Facebook unfriending has developed some odd philosophy behind it, like it's some great insult. So many friends suggest unfriending someone based on differing beliefs. You really have to question (which you, in particular, obviously are) the quality of a friendship based on the level of arguments from disagreements. If a differing opinion causes so much trouble and neither person invests time, effort, or any amount of trying to understand or compromise... then... why bother with it? Friends should care enough to attempt to see a different side, to respect the other person for his or her firm beliefs. It's not like friends can divorce and site "irreconcilable differences." Although, I suppose that's what unfriending on FB has become.

    Most times, people skim over updates. It isn't until something catches their eye that they pay attention. Or other times, they react to life updates with "Oh, that's nice," but then don't indicate a "liking" or comment despite noticing. You have to wonder if they'd even notice if you unfriended them. And then, if your friendship means a lot to them, they'd either attempt to re-friend you or they would get pissy and send you a message.

    This gets into the question of whether you should warn them of the pending de-friending. Would it be passive-aggressive, or does that only apply to the defriending itself without warning? And of course, if the option of sending a message beforehand comes up, then maybe you should message them about these concerns regarding the nature of the friendship.

    What it comes down to is how much you care about the situation, how much you still care about them, whether you'd do anything to repair the friendship, or if it would be better to cleanly cut ties.

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  2. I am a big fan of de-friending people on Facebook, but only those "friends" who I don't really know. Like acquaintances from high school that I will never see again and kids from the Newman Center that were a lot younger/older than me so I never had real conversations with them.

    I hide people from my newsfeed who post opinions and articles that I don't agree with. I'm not sure, but maybe there's some way to post an article or status so only certain groups can see it (like you could separate all your friends into two groups - normal people and argumentative people). That would be a lot more work though, hmm.

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  3. I found, especially in my college days, that if there was someone who was going to come after me with vitriol for things I were posting on Facebook then the best thing to do was the unfriend them because very rarely was there going to be any real discussion or debate via Facebook. I found this to be the best solution for me after much trial and error.

    Now, if you want to be a bit more delicate in dealing with the situation the other option is that Facebook now allows you to tailor each post you make to a specific audience. So if you want to post something up and you know that a certain person or persons will almost assuredly react badly ("Cast not your pearls before swine") then simply block the post from them viewing it and that way you can avoid their nasty comments and still keep open the lines of communication.

    I will remember this intention for your discernment in these cases in my Rosary today. God bless.

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