When do we tend to take aspects of social media a bit too seriously? How about when we think we have been “Unfriended”? I used to ignore posts and rants about unfriending angst, thinking it was a bit too overly dramatic, but I have to say that the feeling that you get when someone close to you has done the deed is not a pretty feeling. I suppose it depends on what you have invested in said friend or friendship. I’m sure that most people carry some “friends” on their Facebook list who they don’t ever interact with and the loss of this particular friend in the night wouldn’t even be noticeable. But I’m not talking about that sort of friend at all.
Over two years ago I became very good friends with someone an entire world away who was from a completely different culture and religious background than myself. We spent many long conversations debating about world events, philosophy and life in general. My eyes were open to seeing my own country and our sense of entitlements in a completely different way. Something happened and the friendship was lost for nearly a year. Recently we found each other again on-line and struck up our deep and meaningful conversations. This time around our friendship included the evolution of social media tools and we used Facebook as a forum for our ideas and philosophies. My friend mentioned that he was not getting the sort of community response from his posts on Facebook and was going to “quit” Facebook for a while. My interpretation of that meant that he was going to stop posting and spending hours/week on Facebook and return to the rest of his world in Saudi Arabia for a while. I guess this is where differences in meaning can occur. He had just posted some thought-provoking (aka rebel-rousing) statements on his wall earlier today and I took the bait and responded. I checked back several hours later to see if he had counter-responded, only to find that I could no longer click on his name as it lay on my wall; the hyperlink was dead. I felt really bad, as if perhaps something I had said in response to his posts had caused him to delete me from his select list of intellectuals from around the world. It felt as if my words had been ripped out in mid-sentence and he had disappeared without a trace, just like before.
I finally caught up with him in another space and simply typed the message:
Why what? he replied
Why did you delete me?
I didn’t delete you, I deleted the whole account. I told you that I was going to stop posting to Facebook.
Guess I am either taking social media too seriously or the relationships that I have built up, but in the end does it matter which? Rejection is rejection pure and simple. I’m just glad this was a case of mistaken meaning.
And for what it’s worth, I heard that the term “unfriend” has been added to New Oxford American Dictionary and was THE Word of the Year in 2009. Read about it here.