Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Friendship in the Age of Social Media

I was looking at the list of former high school classmates on Facebook the other day…and I realized that someone I had been friends with is no longer on my list of friends. I think that means I’ve been “de-friended.” Or is it “un-friended”? Aww. Either way, it’s sort of uncomfortable.

I wonder what I did? Or maybe it’s what I didn’t do. Did she expect a personal note and I didn’t produce? Did I not put enough “likes” on her comments? It certainly couldn’t have been something controversial I said because I’m one of the least controversial people I know. In my own mind, anyway. I don’t think I could have offended her in a chat because I hardly ever do the IM thing. And I rarely jump into debates over politics or religion. So I’m sort of stumped.

Now that I think about it, I have mentioned shoe shopping, so maybe that’s it. Maybe she is vehemently opposed to shoe shopping.

Oh well, I can’t get too worked up about it. I mean, this is someone I haven’t laid eyes on in more than 30 years and, other than a few good laughs on the school bus back in high school, I don’t think we shared many deep, meaningful conversations. So while I don’t think I’ll miss the friendship all that much, it is still a little disconcerting.

Ah, the challenges of social media. Facebook is a great little tool to reconnect with immediate family and extended family, new friends, long time friends, old neighbors, current coworkers and coworkers from jobs in the past. And it has been great finding classmates from college, high school and even people I barely remember from grade school.

But sometimes it’s like a barometer to see how popular you are. Or how someone feels about you. I guess we never truly grow up, do we?

I even know some people (who shall remain nameless, but one of whom I might be married to) who put their friends in categories because they have freakishly large numbers of friends. I, however, am not that organized, nor do I have that many friends. And I can only hope that my memory stays intact enough so that I don’t look at someone on the list and question whether they were a friend from third grade – or if I worked with them at my last job.

I have to admit that it would bother me if I found out that someone cancelled our friendship because of some computer virus, particularly since I don’t have any control over those. (I never open e-mails from unknown senders and try to keep my computer virus-free, but – y’know – stuff happens.) Nevertheless, I can only imagine how that conversation would go:

Former Facebook Friend: “You gave me a computer virus.”
Me: “No, I didn’t.”
Former Facebook Friend: “Yes, you did. And I don’t like you anymore, and I’m unfriending you.”
Me: (making raspberry sounds) “It’s DEfriending me. And I don’t like you either and I’m telling all my other Facebook friends not to talk to you anymore either!”

Evidently, arguing on Facebook must be like arguing on the playground in third grade. Except in third grade, you usually ignored your former friend for about 12 minutes before you forgot what you were arguing about and magically became best friends again. That’s probably because third graders have the attention span of a gnat. There isn’t enough room in their little heads to remember their locker combination let alone keep both the answer to 3x9 plus the reason they were arguing with their best friend.

Maybe that’s the way grown-ups on Facebook should do it. We could go back through the list and re-send friend requests. My former friend would say, “Oh – I haven’t seen Jane in more than 30 years. I will definitely accept her friend request!!”

And life would be good again.

PS, wouldn’t it be interesting if there was just a glitch in Facebook and sometimes friends inexplicably get dropped? If that’s the case…then, um, neverrr mind! Please ignore the preceding blog.

Oh, and I also want to apologize for the crack about third graders. They’re all super-smart and I love them all. And, Vince? Your list of friends is not freakishly large – you’re just a well connected, friendly kinda guy. And I love you, too.

(See? Not controversial.)

1 comment:

  1. GREAT blog today, Jane!!! Good subject and very well written! Hugs Heike