The Facebook Enigma: When Social-Networking Sites Infiltrate Our Real Lives
As a Millennial, I’ve gotten used to relationships starting via Facebook. Dating wasn’t “official” until my Facebook status said “in a relationship.” As far as friends went, after meeting one time, it was socially acceptable to find that guy from the bar and friend him on Facebook—then wait a few hours before messaging him…hoping he’d ask to hang out again. In the beginning it was cool: friend everyone you know--and their grandma.
However, hundreds of Facebook friends and seven years later, I’m tired of my Facebook and its power over me. I feel this odd sense of confusion if I don’t check it for a few hours and I was starting to feel burned out and annoyed by the constant, idiotic updates from some of my “friends.”
The BFF-obsessed girl who is in love with the Caps Lock Key:
Ohmigod. Tonight I had the BEST night EVER with my BESTIE, (insert annoying name). OMG I LOVE you GURLL. BEST FRIENDS FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR :) :) <3
The kid who is really hoping to sound cool:
I am SO HIGH right now.
Really? I hope the police see this.
The person who needs some serious attention, ice cream, and a Sex and the City marathon:
Thank goodness you are out of my life. I am SO much better without you. Now I know who my real friends are and I don’t need you. I will never let you back into my life. I am so much stronger now. I'm in a good place.
Please grow up. Then, call a shrink.
See what I mean?
Some people “delete” their Facebook as a sign of mental strength—only to reappear a few weeks later with 100 status updates about their awesome willpower. Forget you. I wanted a long-term solution. So, after years and years of accumulating friends, nourishing Facebook friendships, and pruning some of those annoying (above) stragglers from my friends list, I decided to do a Facebook purge.
Honestly, when I told some of my real-life (not just digital) friends that I was going to go through my page and systematically delete people, they were aghast. HOW could you do that? That’s sad! Why?
Come on people, it’s time to let go of our little digital worlds full of people we care nothing about. We spend more time on laptops and cell phones “Facebook stalking” (yes this is a word) than actually talking to REAL people around us. I give a pass to far-flung families who have ongoing message threads or use the site to swap photos and news. Fine. Legitimate. However, I’m staring to find it sickening how obsessed some people are with their pages. One of my good friends urged me to stop posting on mine—no need to tell everyone what I’m doing all the time, where I am, or who I’m with. After a few months of barely sharing, I realized how weird it was that people would “check in” at restaurants or post pictures of what they were eating or drinking for the world to see. Does the world really need to know you are at Taco Bell in Reno, Nevada with Dave, Kate, and Rajesh RIGHT NOW? Me, me, me generation right here!
I had enough. A few weeks ago I deleted over half of my Facebook friends in a matter of days.
Criteria for dismissal:
- I had no idea who you were.
- I hadn’t seen you (in person) within the past year.
- I couldn’t remember where I met you.
- I hadn’t talked to you (in person) within the past year.
- I hadn’t talked to you (on Facebook, email, or text) within the past year.
- You constantly posted annoying statuses about your life, eating habits, or lame boyfriend.
- You made daily, political rants that offended me.
- You didn’t have a cute dog that outweighed any of the other reasons for dismissal.
I was proud of myself. I’m naturally a bit of a “neat freak” and having a “clean” Facebook, populated by only people I genuinely talked to and cared about was a good feeling. But, just as I was feeling good, it started to go very bad.
Within two days of my mass friend dump, two people tried to re-friend me. What? Are YOU stalking ME? Please note, I had not talked to either of these people, or seen them, in a matter of years. How did they know I had de-friended them and then re-friended me so fast? I was conflicted. Do I re-friend them out of kindness or do I stand my ground and leave them until their “friend request” magically disappeared? Someone needs to write social guidelines for this! Is it mean to not friend them—what does that mean for real life? Will they read my de-friending as shunning them as friends and acquaintances in real life? I had zero problems with either of them—I just never saw or talked to them!
It was ridiculous how much time I spent on this. (Check out Hannah Sternberg’s advice today for this predicament.) The legitimacy of my actual relationships was somehow governed by a webpage. Pathetic.
A third request came in: another de-friended person wanted to be my friend again. This time, however, it was different. This person, we will call her “Kimberly,” also sent me a Facebook message with her “be my facebook friend” request. It said: “YOU DE-FRIENDED ME.”
At least it was short and sweet.
I was slightly mortified — but I didn’t immediately re-friend this time.
Two weeks later I was sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends. Kimberly arrived after having been invited by another member of our party. She sat down three seats away from me and started scanning the table, introducing herself to the new faces. As soon as she saw me, she got visibly hostile and mouthed: “You! You! You de-friended me on Facebook!” Then, she started violently shaking her head.
I just sat there, flabbergasted. What was I to do? Seriously! I hadn’t talked to or seen this girl in a year and a half—and here she is, berating me in mime fashion because I didn’t want to be her friend on an internet social-networking site!
I seriously thought about whipping out my phone and accepting her friend request right there at the table—at least she’d stop shooting laser death beams out of her eyes down the table at me. However, I didn’t. I held fast. She is currently in “Facebook purgatory” and I have decided not to re-friend her. Why? #1: I should not allow an internet site to control my friend group. #2: I shouldn't let Kimberly's childish reaction influence my decisions. and #3, Due to her crazy behavior, I’m not sure I want to be her friend—in real life or in cyberspace. Adios, Kimberly.
Kids, these days...