Several months ago, someone I counted as a good friend, “unfriended” me on Facebook. It wasn’t too surprising, as she was part of the revolt against my leadership. But it has lingered in the back of my mind and has irritated me. Of all the people who went through what we did, I mistakenly believed this attorney friend of mine would be able to remain objective through the conflict. I was wrong.
As we continued through the process of recovery and healing, The Wife and I had another real-life friend, who was also on Facebook. It seemed as if whenever we posted something, he had a “solution.” It was beginning to bother me. I wasn’t looking for solutions, I just wanted empathy. Not sympathy, not pity, just understanding.
I am a huge believer of the idea that working through conflict will enable relationships to be stronger. And the reverse, avoiding conflict hurts us more than if we’d addressed it.
So, after one of our friend’s more directive posts, I asked him, politely – and uncharacteristically tactfully – to not be so “solution-oriented” and directive. This led to a series of conversations over the next week or so. Each time, he would conclude with: “no worries.” And then about a week after I thought we’d come to a good resolution of this conversation, both Jennifer and I noticed he had unfriended us. It appears to me that he wasn’t telling me the truth when he said, “no worries.”
I was shocked – SHOCKED!”
I bumped into a colleague of mine at a Christmas pageant. He was there with his family, I with mine. We have always gotten along great! His wife and mine, both nurses, have a great time talking. They have kids the same age as ours. Plus, we share many mutual friends. Though I didn’t really notice it at the time, thinking back, I realized he seemed uncomfortable around me. A few months later, we ran into this family again. This time I definitely felt negative vibes. A few days later, I noticed he was no longer my “friend” on Facebook.
I was shocked – SHOCKED! From what I know about this former “friend,” this was a political move designed to cover his butt and distance himself from the evil man (me!) who got fired. Or, maybe it was an accident? I don’t know, and seriously, I’m losing my ability to care. Seriously, I don’t have the space, the time, nor the energy to keep up with 700 people on Facebook, 1000 people on Twitter, or the 70+ regular readers of my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them, but I am only human. I am not omnipresent.
I have several “friends” on Facebook whom I’ve never met in real life. They are either “friends of friends,” readers of this blog, or for some other reason, they wanted to friend me. Unless you are a callow, sp*m marketer who uses pretty women’s photos to lure people in, I have a policy of saying “yes!” to all friend requests. Unless someone is outlandishly abusive, I have no problem being their online friend. And in the process, I’ve met some incredible people – whom I would love to meet in real life!
The people I interact with the most, are people with whom I have a relationship. Most of them, I’ve met in real life. Others, I want to – but through the magic of the Interwebs, we can reach out to one another, even though we are at least 13,000 miles from each other – or have never actually met!
I also know there are many reasons why people “unfriend” friends. For instance, I’m very verbose online, many of my Twitter posts are also posted on Tumblr, Blogger, identi.ca, Friendfeed, and Facebook. In addition, I have a few different pages I manage on Facebook, a couple of blogs I moderate, and I believe in transparency and authenticity. However, I don’t expect everyone to really care that much about my life. Seriously, why would they?
I also know that some have unfriended me because they don’t understand how to use the privacy tools and filters available on Facebook – or other media. While that’s too bad, I have to admit, unfriending someone is often the easiest way to reduce the clutter in one’s stream. Don’t think I haven’t thought about it. However, if I am diligent about hiding Farmville (and related) posts and page invites, it doesn’t take long for my stream to be clutter free.
My Lego is pretty full anyway.”
At 51 years old, I’m tired of playing the popularity game. I no longer need to wear $60 Calvin Klein jeans to demonstrate my coolness; I can still be cool in my $13 Costco jeans. I can wear sensible shoes, drive a un-stylish 17 year old car, and eat practical, healthy food. And, if someone doesn’t want to be my friend, colleague, or even to admit they know me – that’s fine. My Lego is pretty full anyway.