“Friending”

Facebook is a strange beast.

I love the way that it keeps me up to date with my family in Canada, and the way that is has reunited me with old friends.

What I can’t stand are the silly mind games that occur on this social media site.

Take for example the “friending” and “unfriending” buttons. The word, friend, for me has quite serious connotations. I don’t make friends haphazardly. I’m not a social butterfly. The word, friend, is now a verb. People friend me. It’s no longer befriending, just friending.

For me, this trivialises friendship. If I am going to be someone’s friend, I am going to be there for that person. I don’t make offers of friendship, in “real life” or on social media sites lightly. It’s not on a whim. I can’t function like that. My biggest problem, however, is I think that everyone thinks the same.

I have no idea when people “unfriend” me. I don’t keep track of how many friends I have, and I don’t notice when people drop off. I am extremely naïve in that regard. I’ve had people unfriend, and then refriend me months later – I just assumed that they deleted their account and opened a new one. Then they unfriend me again, and I only find out when I try to tag them in a photo or something and can’t. There hasn’t been any exchange between us sometimes, or if there has been it’s been positive, but suddenly I have been unfriended for whatever reason.

Why the silly, schoolground games? And if it is a game, shouldn’t everyone know that they’re playing? If someone is trying to hurt me using Facebook, it fails utterly as I’m totally oblivious – or I only find out months after the event. I have no idea most of the time when I’m involved in any kind of game – I just assume that people are, on the whole, nice. Especially those whom I befriend. I’m going to continue thinking this way. Life’s too short to do otherwise.

I wonder if, when Facebook was created, the concept of friending and unfriending was thought through to its finality. The friend button could be used to bring people together. It could also be used as a weapon to hurt someone. Like a vicious, little child lashing out. People can get hurt, even from a child…

If someone I know and like posts things that annoy me, I simply stop receiving notifications from them. I won’t unfriend them, as they may not be like that in person. I have decided to be friends with them for a reason. Now, if someone did something utterly atrocious, that’s another matter. But I just don’t use the “unfriend” button as a weapon. There’s got to be dialogue involved before making that sort of decision.

Am I alone in this regard? I hope not – I hope that there are other souls out there, who feel the same way. Sensitive souls, who take the friend button seriously.

Facebook is a strange beast.

 

 

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18 thoughts on ““Friending”

  1. I don’t do facebook. Never have, think it’s energetically dangerous – at least it occurs that way to me. The whole ethos of ‘friending’ and ‘unfriending’ is reprehensible. You are so right folks get hurt, especially the vulnerable and young people who are so fragile about who they are and insecure in themselves. It’s childish. It’s churlish.

    Like you I do not bestow or accept friendship lightly. It means something to me. Even when those with whom I have been friends are lost due to time and distance, it was meaningful to have them part of my life and I remember all of them. I makes me think that I maybe need to pick a day in the year and send out gratitude into the universe for them by name, those who are lost as well as those who are not, though I remember daily those who are important to me.

    I also cringe at making ‘friend’ a verb — I remember when I first heard mouse used a a verb, I conjugated it: I mouse, I moused, I have moused, I shall mouse, I might mouse, I had moused, I shall have moused, I might have moused . . . and so on, yes I used the subjunctive – bless Latin, just to see how silly it sounded — oh yes, never to forget ‘mousing’. A least you can’t unmouse.

    I say this in no way to belittle your comments on befriending and its very serious intention. I guess it’s more a commentary on how so many have let others make their decisions our about vocabulary, but in so doing demean something as important as who you trust and care about.

    • It is odd, isn’t it? Why choose “friend” – it’s attraction, I’m sure. Everyone wants lots of friends. Perhaps Facebook intentionally played upon that very human instinct to surround yourself with others of the human tribe, which in modern parlance has become a popularity contest… 🙂 It would make a good psychology dissertation! x

  2. The thing that always gets me with this relatively new social shift is that the act of ‘unfriending’ usually doesn’t happen as a solo click. And in particular, that there is such pomp and ceremony often associated with doing it. Many times I see warnings and justifications which buy time for the validation of ‘please don’t cull me from your list!’. Sometimes even from the account holder, the ‘justify your existence on my page’ thread occurs too. It just seems odd to me, and not a reflection necessarily on relationships in real life.

    On the other side of that, I do get that there are a number of ways people use Facebook or other social media, and their own personal interaction and experiences with the site(s) affect that too. I’m certainly aware my own ‘relationship’ with Facebook differs from that of several of my friends, and I quite understand it.

  3. I send Friend requests to people I want to be friends with. I’ve accepted too many and am, paring them down. One can’t be friends with everyone. But for me a request is a genuine outreach. It means something. I am currently culling, because I allowed my own timeline to get too large.I posted about that, so those who really wanted to stay, would know.

    In future – more discretion here. 😉

  4. I don’t accept friend requests from people I don’t know, or from people I only know vaguely or from “old times” with whom I have no interest in staying in contact. I use Facebook to keep up with friends and family back home, groups that I’m a member of in real life, or druidry/pagan blogs and activities going on in e.g. the OBOD or in the country I live in.

    I try to minimize the use to the 6 minutes it takes me to eat breakfast, and then not look at it until the next day. When I was a student, I used it as a procrastination tool – now I barely update anymore. I also don’t have the app for my phone. The idea of all the notifications constantly coming in about friends’ likes, posts, pages, events, comments, etc. etc. gives me shivers. Don’t even get me started on the people who are so addicted to checking their news feed for “important updates” (“Look what I had for dinner!”) while socializing with other people in real life. It makes me sad when people would rather post a picture of the monkey they’ve seen in the zoo, oblivious to their children’s delight in seeing such a creature, than teaching them about the habits and habitats of the animal. Ugh.

    I also really dislike the people who post “My friends list just got culled – so if you can see this, congrats!”. Why should I worry about whether I’m on their friend list or not? If they remove me, I assume we’re probably not speaking in real life or have little in common anymore, and if that’s the case then that’s fine. If it’s because they’re upset with me, then I’m not sure I’d want to be friends with someone who’d rather be “spiteful” and delete me in the hopes that I’ll notice (I usually don’t, like you, until months later) in order to provoke a drama, instead of telling me that I did something that upset them. It’s too much like high school for me sometimes.

    Facebook rant over! 🙂

  5. It was designed for teens, I believe… that may explain a lot. It’s an odd and interesting ongoing social experiment. I like it, but it’s taken me a while to get the hang of using it so it works for me – and we’re all different so there’s no one right answer. I say yes to requests from anyone who I can establish isn’t a spambot, and that’s brought me into contact with a lot of lovely people and a few less lovely ones. I only unfriend if someone really winds me up – if I don’t know someone well and they start spewing fascism, for example, I’ll just unfriend and walk away. I’ve unfriended a few times over personal fallings out and I have no problem with people walking away if they find me a problem. I try to avoid the games, which seem to me to often be about a desire for attention above all else.

  6. As a non-Facebook person I’m also aware that Facebook has achieved such a position in social spheres that I do miss out on some things. My local music sessions, for example, are all co-ordinated via Facebook. In consequence I sometime don’t get to hear of things that are going on. I do feel the pressure to join but all the talk of friending, unfriending, animated kittens, trolls (or is that Twitter?) and invasion of privacy argue against it. It does seem to bring out the worst in many people.

    • You could always do what another person I know has done – join Facebook, but don’t make any “friends” so that you can join the groups to keep up to date with the organisation of events, but not have a newsfeed as such… he’s a keen kayaker and has joined a couple of clubs, who organise stuff on facebook. that’s all he uses it for…

  7. it’s one of the reasons I don’t do Facebook, I once thought I must get that, then heard a bit about it and did not bother.

    by the way I love your site

    Norm

    • thank you for your kind words! Facebook is a handy tool for me, both in keeping in contact with my family and also for business purposes. I do wonder what my life would be like without it sometimes though 🙂

  8. Totally agree with your sentiments and many of those stated here. I also keep in touch with (true) friends and family that live out of town by means of Facebook, and I do like to repost uplifting or funny posts when friends send them to me (or even serious ones from time to time). I’ve been told that these are appreciated. (I’ve also been told I’m singing to the choir…but oh well…doesn’t hurt, does it?) I also comment on friends’ posts, and this is where I usually get myself into trouble, as I’ve lost my “filter” as I’ve gotten older, and tend to speak my truth more straightforwardly than some people like.

    I’ve had a lot of people send me friend requests whom I don’t know — presumably because they like what I post or the comments I make — and I always check them out, see what kind of things they post, who they might know that we have in common, etc., before I add them to my friends list. I think that most of us are always seeking people of like mind and heart, aren’t we? Even those who aren’t just trying to bulk up their friends’ lists.

    If I send a friend request, I thank them for the “add” — I don’t like using “friend” as a verb either. I go through my list now and then (usually something will prompt me to do so) and clean it out of people who no longer have FB accounts, and who, for whatever reason, I no longer want to be associated with, etc. Usually these people have long ago dropped out of sight. Like you, Joanna, if I don’t like something a friend is posting, I simply turn off notifications rather than unfriend them, but some people are petty in their pride and their need to be “right”. Usually it is not a matter of disagreeing with what they are saying, but rather that they are posting something that is offensive to me (as was the case of a former seed group member that moved to Alabama). He, for example, suffers from bipolar disorder, I am certain, and started posting nothing but questionable pictures of scadily-clad ladies in the SMBD style. I didn’t need to see that. But I didn’t want to cut off all communication with him either, in case this “stage” passed.

    I pride myself on keeping my list under 300 people. Every so often I will be “unfriended” by someone who has added me, presumably because of something I said, and of course they never tell you why — and I usually don’t find out until much later, so I will have no idea what it was I said or when. hehe

    I’ve met some fascinating people through FB, but like one (or two) commenters, I fell into the time sink it can become, and have now managed to reduce it to breakfast, and sometimes I forget altogether! Once a day is my average, unless I have a migraine and can’t do anything else, I might pop in again later in the day. i also use it for business, as I write for a quarterly magazine and all communications with the staff are conducted via Facebook.

    Regarding FB and Myspace: Myspace was created for teenagers. FB was created to be more instantaneous and was for adults. The adults that were using Myspace migrated to Facebook, then to Twitter and other social media sites. I have refused to migrate any further. I prefer to stay as much in the dark ages as possible. 😀

    Well, sorry to have written an entire blog in response to yours. Guess I need to get writing something of my own again…this is surely a sign! As always, a great blog Joanna. Love following you. A true sister on the Druid (Bhuid!) path.

    Bendithion disglair,
    /|\

    • Hi Garangwyn! Blessings to you, sister.

      I’ve been pushed forward, kicking and screaming, into this new technological age. I opened a Twitter account a couple of months ago – mainly for business, and to pass on environmental campaigns. I have a 12 year old mobile phone that is never on – it’s my emergency phone if my car breaks down. We can all too easily lose sight of the present moment with all of our gadgets and technology! I like to take an entire day off from all media and technology once a week – no tv or radio, no computers, no phones – it’s lovely, and makes the day that much longer! x

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