The emotional toils of Facebooking
San Diego has always had a “small town feel” to it, and within the LGBT community it is even smaller.
Everyone seems to know everyone and news & gossip travels and spreads across the community at lightning speed. With online social networking being an integral part of most of our lives now, this information travels even faster. We are all connected even closer than we were “pre-Facebook” and with just the click of a mouse, we are learning the details of our acquaintances' most miniscule of daily life events.
Being connected to someone on Facebook is sort of like confirmation of your acquaintance with each other, even in cases where you don’t “really” know the person. But what happens when a Facebook connection is broken (ie. you are deleted from someone’s Facebook friend list)?
Is this the new ultimate social rejection?
Over the last week, three or four friends have mentioned that they were on Facebook and realized they were no longer “friends” with someone. They either attempted to pull up someone’s profile and came across an “Add as Friend” button on their “former” friend’s page, or, in my case, I realized I was “defriended” when Facebook kindly suggested that I become friends with a person I had been connected to for a of couple years!
I realize some may being reading this column thinking to themselves or saying to a friend “reading this column was 3 minutes of my life that I will never get back… why am I reading about something as petty as Facebook defriending?” But deep down, everyone who has even remotely invested some of their time into Facebook wonders, even if just in the back of their minds, why someone deleted their connection.
I have had long discussions with friends who have been “defriended” as they wonder, “did I do something wrong? Did I say something?” which eventually turns into a face-saving “oh well, it’s just Facebook – their loss.” But I, too, have gone through this “rejection” a couple of times, and while I try to play it cool, it’s a frustrating feeling.
The next phase in “defriendation” always seems to be the “what do I do next?" phase.
Should you attempt to re-request the person’s friendship? Do you send them a quick message to see how they are doing, hoping they might “notice” you are no longer “friended,” leaving the burden on them to re-add you? Do you go crazy on them and tell them that it is “their loss”? Then, of course, what do you do if you see them out and about? Is your face-to-face interaction awkward? Do you say hi? Do you pretend like you are on your cell phone and walk right past them?
Personally, I have a “no delete” policy. I realize that people come and go from my life, but as long as I maintain that Facebook connection, they are a part of my life in some way.
Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances; but in the end, we have to remember that it is just a communication tool, and cannot replace real life interaction. Online interaction should not be taken too seriously, and if things get out of control, nothing is better than giving someone a call or meeting over coffee to talk things out. Happy Facebooking!
Ben Cartwright is SDGLN's Higher Education & Nonprofit Liaison and has been a campus and community activist in San Diego for over 10-years. His community involvement began as a student at SDSU and from there he launched into a number of other community activities. He has written for a number of local publications including Update, Hillquest, and GLT. Cartwright won the Lambda Archive's 2007 "Community Hero Award"; 2008 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Community Activist"; and a 2009 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Writer/Columnist".