Facebook & The Fine Art of Defriending

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The surface of Facebook may be a shiny facade of blunt cards, pets subjected to silly wardrobes, and people going into way too much details about their lives. The reality is that Facebook has also placed an unnatural framework on relationships. This uncomfortability has given us the term “defriending.” f

According to this website,  over 1 billion people actively use Facebook daily. So, if you are reading this; you statistically are likely to have experienced the phenomenon I am about to describe.  According to another website says that we have an average of 350 FB friends.  Chances are, it’s a mish-mosh of current and former coworkers, childhood friend, neighbors, people you may have met at social functions, friends of friends, extended family, ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, and people from various other sources in your life.  The reality of friendship is that reality offers many levels of intimacy. Some are very close friends. Some may have the potential for that, but are still rather new. Some people may share some common interest, but ultimately will never be that close. Some we have very basic interactions with, but are not likely to go beyond that. Some may have been close once, but life paths may have taken you both in two very different directions. As we age, our perspective on life changes. Our political, religious, and social views change over time. On top of that, electronic social interaction do not share the benefit and nuances of physical gestures,  vocal tone/pace/ inflection, facial expression, and delivery to also indicate meaning. What does Facebook offer us? We can either be their friend or not their friend.

We see Facebook friend requests sitting in our profile when we check in on-line.  Some we accept quickly. Others, we wait.  Then, we may accept or delete later.  As our Facebook friend list grows, we may start to reevaluate who is on it; especially if that particular user decides to overstep social, political, or religious boundaries that we don’t feel comfortable with.  We are faced with struggling to choose between taking them out of our news feed, filter them from our wall posts, or defriending.  I have found that defriending someone can really cause people to get upset.  I have defriended people that I don’t feel particularly close with, but their response was to message me to ask why I did it.  I have also had defriended people call my mom to ask why they defriended me.  What people don’t seem to understand is that friending (or defriending) is my choice. I simply want that expected…..and leave my mom out of it.

Facebook has generated this uncomfortable dynamic, but no one seems to talk about it.  Facebook is also responsible for a great deal of useless drama, not to mention that it can get people in trouble for any number of reasons – including causing them to lose their jobs.  I will admit that I am old, but I think that we collectively need to rethink how documented our lives need to be electronically.  One major advantage about acting like an idiot in real life means that one does not have to worry about “going viral” and end up on Good Morning America to defend obnoxious behavior to the masses.

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