Facebook is even stranger than real life, which is saying a mouthful. I've been rattling around its environs for years now, and I think I've seen Just.About.Everything. I realize I'm being silly in even claiming such a thing, however, as there's always something even more mind-blowing around the next corner. People never fail to amaze. Most anyone who spends any appreciable amount of time on social media knows it's a distillation of daily life in the world ... every mindset is represented, every problem magnified, every personality laid bare.
Let’s talk about "friending" -- an intriguing concept in every way. It's hard for me to let people into my life, and yet I've met fabulous individuals from around the globe whom I would never have had the opportunity to know otherwise and we carry on funny, fascinating, engaging conversations nearly every day. I have a load of family members on my friends list, most of whom rarely talk to me, which I don't take personally -- they're family, after all, and one sticks with family -- at least in ours. And we share a strong genetic makeup – we tend to be quiet and introspective until you hit the right button, and then just TRY to shut us up. I've received a lot of friend requests from people I used to know in a passing sort of way. Sometimes those work out and we strike up a comfortable relationship that's better than we could ever claim in the past. Sometimes I authorize the request and never hear boo from the person -- not a hello, a comment in a conversation thread, not even a "like." In those instances, I usually assume the whole thing was motivated by curiosity (have I gotten fat or fallen on hard times??) give it a few weeks, hit the delete button, and move on.
The first time I was unfriended, it was like a kick to the gut -- it happened to be someone I thought was a close friend, someone who'd been by my side during life-altering events. I considered myself safe, accepted ... in other words, in my mind it was a true friendship. Not so -- my political and spiritual leanings, only mildly hinted at during those innocent early days, rendered me unfit for that particular relationship. Revelation dawned, I tucked it under my belt, and marched on. I've since been unfriended by a handful of other people for the views I hold, and the only thing that would make that an untenable situation is if I changed my thinking in order to keep people happy and “on my side.”
Interestingly, Facebook has succeeded in teaching me far more about friendship than I was able to learn in the rest of my life to this point. In some ways I’ve grown softer toward people – more accepting of personalities and the endlessly varied ways in which they express themselves. In others, however, I’ve grown very hard-nosed. I do not tolerate prejudice, especially the kind that’s based on skin color or a person’s status in life, and I do not willingly subject myself to incivility. I have no trouble these days hitting the “unfriend” button, and in the past week I’ve wreaked havoc on the list. If you pass me in the grocery store without a glimmer of recognition, I have to assume we aren’t actually friends. If you take me to task for my convictions and try to shame me into adopting a different mindset, I’m quite sure we’re not friends, as no quality relationship works that way. If you asked to be on my list and we’ve never had a conversation or any sort of interaction, you’re probably not there anymore ... or won’t be tomorrow. I’m all about keeping it real these days.
Stay tuned ... Facebook isn’t finished with me yet, nor I with it!