Thursday, November 11, 2010
Unfriended: A New Way to Snub
It's sort of a strange thing to find that you've been unfriended by someone on Facebook. When an unfriending occurs, there is no proclamation or announcement or notification; the unfriended is just quietly removed from the unfriender's Friends List, and the unfriended will never know until such time that they go searching through their own Friends List and find someone's name mysteriously missing.
I've done it, I admit it. I've unfriended people who were complete strangers to me from whom I didn't know why I accepted friend requests to begin with. I've unfriended a few people who I had actual fallings out with, or people on the other side of an actual friendship that just ran its course and petered out mutually. In those cases, why bother with the pretense of a Facebook "friendship"? The unfriending seems like a logical step.
But when it's a person you've actually known for a very long time - say, since junior high school (hypothetically, of course), a person with whom you may no longer be close practically speaking but have had no falling out, no disagreement or words - nothing over the last year or so except pleasant Facebook exchanges - well, then it's just weird. Or maybe not weird. It's obviously a statement of some sort which boils down to "I don't want to be friends with you anymore." You think everything is fine, then you realize you haven't seen this person's status updates in your newsfeed for a while, so you go through your Friends List to pull up their Facebook page so you can check up on them and see how they're doing, and poof! They're gone from your list. Was it something you did? Something you said? Was it your radical atheist views? And your husband might say to you, "Why don't you just get in touch with her and ask what happened?" (Hypothetically, of course.) But you think, no, what's the point in getting an explanation? It's only bound to lead to hurt feelings. And you're left to conclude that they just don't like you anymore, for whatever reason. Which makes you sad. (Hypothetically, of course.)
It's just interesting how Facebook - and electronic communication in general - has changed the face of relationships. We can now sit comfortably behind the cover of our computer screens and tell people off - say things we'd never dream of having the nerve to say face to face. We can profess undying friendship to people we've never met and likely never will. The people we love and hate are only a text or email away. We don't even have to think about what we're going to say - we don't have to measure our responses or carefully weigh our words - instant communication and constant availability has done away with much of that. And now we can even dump friends impersonally and anonymously. Maybe divorce will become that easy eventually.
Isn't technology great?