Thursday, July 10, 2014

Unfriended.



Facebook is not supposed to be complicated. As a general rule, I don't "unfriend" people. I also don't "friend" people often. Mostly, because I am lazy. I have little motivation to sort my 200-some friends (Edit: I overestimated this number. I come in at a lame 188.) into lists, or to basically rank who gets to see what.We live states away from family, so Facebook has truly been a blessing: people that otherwise would not be able to connect with our children can see photos and hear about our lives. It saves an introvert like me from making dozens of phones calls to update our large family. Another perk? I get to see the children of my friends from childhood and adulthood grow up. I am privy to details I might miss out on because of distance. I have the privilege of seeing my friends raise a generation of kids that I wish could live next door to my own. Facebook has been good in my life.

I have also been a part of some really great conversations about serious matters on Facebook. Of course, there are discussions that get out of hand. Even some of the heated conversations have been some of my favorite, however.

Recently, I had a terrible experience with the "unfriend" Facebook button. For months, the interactions between this person and myself had seemed needlessly heated. With every comment from the individual, I would receive a private message from someone else asking "What's the deal?!" I would vent and ask for prayers privately. Status updates that included topics from raising kids to summer meals to (finally) courtesy parking would erupt in seconds. For a month or so before the finale, I had even been hiding a great deal of my updates from the individual just to preserve the relationship. I like this person. If we lived closer, I'd have a beer with this person. This person is on my Christmas card list. It only took one Saturday morning's observation in a post I forgot to limit. One seemingly harmless conversation in the week that included the Hobby Lobby ruling and all ties are cut.

I don't really want to admit it, but I am a bit hurt underneath all the puzzlement. Months of judgmental comments that I tried to step over, and even a few unsent private messages trying to figure out what the hell happened. In some ways, I suppose it is a relief. In many other ways, it just plain sucks.

Almost everyone I know has had a similar experience on Facebook. It makes family get-togethers awkward. Perhaps it is not being able to hear tone when you are reading a post. Maybe the comfort and anonymity a computer brings makes matters worse. It is possible that some people really are like that in person. It might just be stubborn people being stubborn.

I suppose I am writing this post to get it out of my system. I don't enjoy being attacked and I don't understand how someone can continuously attack and then be upset enough to "unfriend" someone when they are challenged back. I also don't like the taste left in my mouth over this whole experience. I don't know how to resolve something like this. Are my only options to censor my own Facebook page or to get off of Facebook?

How do you handle tense situations that start on Facebook and bleed into real life?

4 comments:

  1. I wish I only had 188 FB friends. I have 384 and I just think that is way too much. I actually recently downsized my friend list by almost half. I decided to one day just go through my friend list and really think about why I was still friends with some people, and would it be better if I just unfriended them. I decided to unfriend a lot of people I went to high school and grade school with. These were people who I rarely even talked to while in high school so why was I letting them see pictures my kids all the time? I also decided to unfriend anybody who wasn't family or close friend. I kept the friends (who aren't either family or close friends) who regularly like or comment on my posts. Even though I am not close friends with them in real life, they make a point to start conversations with me and some of these people who I weren't close with in high school now have much more in common with me and we talk more than ever now via facebook (which is one thing I like about FB--reconnecting, sharing, and building community)

    I know I know I still have 384 friends. I guess its because there are several people that I'm just not sure about, that are hanging on by a thread. In a year or so, I will probably be able to cut that friend list in half again.

    The problem is, is that I don't want people to think I don't like them, or I have something against them if I unfriend them. I am simply unfriending because really there is no real connection we have other than maybe sitting in the same class room one year. We don't have anything in common, and I likely will never see that person again. So why keep them on my friend list?

    I like Facebook, but as I get older, I am starting to realize more and more that my time on Facebook will come to an end. Maybe soon or maybe in a very long time. I used to think I could never live without Facebook. Now there are days where I wish it never existed. This is because of interactions like you are describing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I try to not post heated topics on my personal page. I don't think I've ever posted something political on my page. I may post something in regards to my faith on my page, but nothing really controversial. Usually just prayers or pictures of saints or something. Like you, I like facebook so that family and friends that live far away can keep up with me and see pictures and updates from my family. I don't want to bombard my family and IRL friends with controversial religious and political, or even parenting hot topics. That is why I've recently joined a few closed Facebook groups where I can freely comment on posts and have respectful dialogue about hot-topics. This Hobby Lobby thing has almost put me over the edge though. It was just too much. So much was exploded all over my newsfeed from the far left to the far right to the inbetween. The good that came out of it was that my husband and I had a long discussion about it. (I still am not 100% on where I stand about the case.) But other than that I was seriously getting overwhelmed. And this time with not just the secular people but strong Catholics too! Not even all the Catholics can agree on the outcome of this thing. I was and still am perplexed by it all. Thank you Facebook.

    I'm sorry you are having this falling out with your friend. I am even more sorry because the majority of the blame goes to Facebook. I hate hearing that social media is causing the end of friendships, of marriages, etc. It is so sad. I agree that people are more likely to say things on Facebook (or text message) that they probably wouldn't say to someone's face. I like to discuss certain things on Facebook or in a comment section, but it will never beat actually sitting down with someone with a coffee or beer and being able to see and respond to both verbal and nonverbal communication. I think communications 101 taught me that 90% of communication is nonverbal.

    I've had similar experiences as you with being unsure what to make of Facebook comments and activity of friends. I have never had a somewhat close friend unfriend me though, so I'm not sure exactly what advice to give. Other than if you have the person's number trying to give them a call. And if they unfriended you because you are standing your ground in your beliefs, and they disagree, well than they really aren't a very good friend anyway.

    I will say some prayers for your and your former FB friend.

    (wow..sorry for the long comment lol)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am interested in politics. That is part of who I am, and I feel as though my Facebook page should be able to reflect the good, bad and in between, you know? It isn't just the rose-colored version of my life, because that's not really me. I can take heated debates, I can take differences in opinion. The shut out is what makes no sense to me. I will also reiterate that the nuclear fallout was over COURTESY PARKING. How on earth is that controversial? Perhaps Facebook isn't the place for meaningful discussions, but why not? We use the Internet to find dates, right?

      Thanks for the prayers. We both could probably use them!

      Delete
    2. Yep, I get what you are saying. You SHOULD be able to have discussion on hot topics and have respectful discussions and not get shut out. And yea it is weird that you were unfriended over courtesy parking. That makes me chuckle and sigh in disappointment at the same time.

      I am not as comfortable talking about politics or other hot topics on my facebook page. I only do it in closed private groups. That is just me. I have a personality that is more shy and reserved I guess. Sometimes I wish I weren't so. I think I care too much about what others might think of me. I need to find a good balance. I don't want to overload my friends newsfeeds with my opinions and comments, but I also don't want to completely hide who I am.

      And for me, my Facebook page is to document the good in my life for the most part. I have FB friends who update their statuses several times a day saying how awful their lives are. "I can't ever catch a break" "My life sucks" etc etc etc. Maybe this is shitty of me, but I unfollow people who spew out constant negativity. I try to make a point to pray for them but I don't want to see their negative statuses filling up my newsfeed.

      I am fine with people being and real and vulnerable every once in a while when something difficult is going on in their life, but when every single one of their statuses is negative? Makes me think they are trying to get attention.

      But that is not at all the same as you expressing your opinions and beliefs. Like I said, if someone unfriended you for standing your ground, um and for thinking that courtesy parking is good (ridiculous) than they aren't a good friend to have anyway.

      And I do think Facebook is a place for meaningful discussions, but we need to be careful because comments without nonverbal communications very often come off very different than what the person intended. Which is what causes heated fights on FB. I like having discussion on FB, but for me, I do it in private or closed groups so my entire friend list doesn't see my conversations. Mainly because I don't want to overload their newsfeed with my conversations. Maybe I shouldn't care so much and allow my friends to see my conversations. But that's where the shy, reserved, and "wanting people to like me" personality trait comes out. *sigh* I'm lame. :/

      Delete

Comments are always welcome! Come join me on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessfayette
Twitter: @jessfayette
Tumblr: jessfayette.tumblr.com