When a friend unfriends you on Facebook
Facebook–you either love it or hate it. For me, joining Facebook was something I was loath to do for a long, long time. I was still in school when it was in its infancy, back when you needed a .edu email address to join. Prodded and nagged by my friends, I resisted, with the quite reasonable excuse that working and attending class full-time left me no time to dodder around on the internet. Several years later, I gave in, but I resolved to do it my way: I didn’t add my maiden name to my account because the people I knew and liked from high school already knew my married name. I had no interest in reconnecting with random lab partners and bullies from junior high. I only added former co-workers, not current ones. And I only added relatives whose company I actually enjoyed.
Of course, I slacked a little on these rules as time went on, but for the most part, I’ve kept my account limited to friends and family. Despite this, I had two friends unfriend me within a few weeks of each other. Although it happened over a year ago, I still think about it every once in a while. The human mind has a wonderful ability to reopen old wounds again and again, doesn’t it? I saw them commenting on other people’s statuses, so I knew they hadn’t deleted their accounts. It was just me. What had I done?
I went back and examined all of my statuses, looking for any clue as to what had made them decide I was suddenly expendable. Was it the rant about the woman sitting next to me on the bus who wouldn’t budge when I had to get off? The angry words about the co-worker who decided to take a personal call in my office? My unabashed love of Hello Kitty? What hurt most was that, in the hierarchy of Facebook friends, these were two women who I had been quite close to at one time. I discovered the unfriendings prior to a vacation to Japan and, although it sounds silly, it put a damper on the trip because it kept popping into my mind. “Why would Kristy unfriend me? She’s the one who posts irritatingly vague status updates all the time. I should have unfriended her! And Emily, well, why she thinks anyone is interested in her political rants is beyond me!”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized–I didn’t really like these women anymore and I hadn’t for a while. In fact, we had completely grown apart. Facebook was serving as a life support system for friendships that should have died a long time ago. This was precisely what I didn’t want to happen with Facebook and what I went to pains to prevent, but clearly I had failed. Before they unfriended me, I’d find myself rolling my eyes at their status updates. Kristy posting yet another “artistic” photo of herself (narcissist!). Emily writing seething, hateful diatribes about Barack Obama. (I think no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, hateful diatribes are always a social faux pas.) While I had found my place immersed in academia and living happily in the suburbs, Kristy represented the worst of urban hipster snobbism and Emily disavowed her intellectual past and all that she once was to mold herself to her caddish husband’s feminine ideal. I couldn’t stand them and they, evidently, couldn’t stand me.
What was bothering me wasn’t the breaking of the ties. It was that they did it first. Even when you’re in a mutually miserable relationship, being the dumper is always preferable to being the dumpee. And while I know all of this now, I still have those moments when this whole situation comes flooding back to me. Having one of those moments today is what prompted me to write this, in fact. This is simply my nature, though. I never remember the good job interviews–I remember the ones where I put my foot in my mouth and say something stupid. I don’t obsess over the 1000 people who follow me on Twitter–I think about the one who unfollowed me last week. And, with Facebook, I don’t think about how I’ve created a nice space for myself with dozens of true friends and family members that I adore–I think about those two jerks who had the cojones to unfriend me before I unfriended them.
How about you? Have you found yourself on the receiving end of Facebook unfriending? Do you have Facebook friends that you secretly can’t stand? Please share!