|You didn't get cake, because they forgot it was your birthday, because you didn't allow your facebook friends to see what day you were born. Really, it's your fault. |
There were no status updates, no cover photos, no photo albums of the last five epic vacays you took, no way to tell the world that you had the best effing burrito of your life, and no way to announce that you’re getting married so nah-nah-nah-nah-boo-boo-stick-your-head-in-doo-doo. Just a freaking photo, the name of your school, and the option to tell a closed network of college students that your favorite band was Hanson.
You still had to call your friends or have face-to-face interactions with people you wanted to keep in your life.
Even in its most simplistic format, I thought facebook was pretty darn cool. I loved browsing the profiles of my classmates, finding fellow recovering Hanson addicts, and connecting with high school friends who were attending different universities.
While I still login everyday to see what people eat, smell and think every five minutes, I have definitely changed my user habits as facebook has expanded. Most specifically in who I decide to “friend.”
“Friending” someone on facebook used to be as invasive as saying hello to a passing stranger. There was very limited information you shared with your “friends” and of course your true friends knew only what you ate for breakfast, what you’re thinking of naming your firstborn, and what time you put in your headgear last night. I used to friend anyone I met - random partygoers, guys I thought were cute, co-workers I worked with for five seconds. It didn’t matter - They didn’t have access to my life story with the click of a mouse.
But as facebook has grown, it has cheapened what information we determine intimate, and what friendships we consider valuable. Our connections have become increasingly artificial. Now any “friend” can discover the most intimate details that were once reserved for those in our closest circles. It’s to the point where we tell our true friends stories, only for them to interrupt and say, “I already read that on facebook.”
I’m still “friends” with people I wouldn’t normally give two shits about if facebook weren’t an option. So I began asking myself, why? If it doesn’t make a difference to me if your status says you “got caught picking your nose in the office” or that you “just had a baby,” we probably shouldn’t be “friends.”
I had “friended” so many acquaintances that I didn’t remember how I was connected to all of them. That’s when I knew it was time to purge my friends list. I went on an unfriending binge a few months ago (which felt so good - it was like hot yoga; the toxins were being released!), but a few stragglers remain.
And you know how I’m reminded to unfriend those stragglers? Their birthday pops up on my newsfeed. I think, “Oh wow. I didn’t unfriend them months ago?” Happy Birthday! I’m an asshole and I’m unfriending you! Honey badger don’t care.
My new criteria is, if I feel uncomfortable wishing you a happy birthday because we’re not that close, you don’t need to know that my dog lost a tooth yesterday, or that I got sick from the burger at a chinese restaurant, or that I hung out with my family over the weekend.
And why are we hooked on such nonessential statements about life anyway? We are not only intrigued by sharing the inconsequential events of our day, but reading about others’ as well. The little things are what ultimately comprise our lives and some are certainly more interesting than others. We enjoy the voyeuristic aspect that facebook provides. Facebook has somehow tapped into our inner creep and made it all okay.
People willingly share all kinds of information about their lives, from birth to death. I have friends that have passed whose facebook pages are now tribute pages. Imagine that! We’re still connected on facebook in the afterlife.
I feel too far invested in facebook to pull the plug, and I do rely on it to stay in touch with even my closest of true friends, but I certainly understand other’s hesitations for not wanting to join the biggest social media network in the world.
Some have predicted that facebook is just a passing fad, while others tout its ingenuity and claim it's the wave of the future. I’m more apt to side with the latter, but I can’t do so without my criticisms.
Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with people you care about, and a great way to stay in touch with those you don’t. Ultimately, Facebook harbors artificial relationships and makes us feel more important than we really are. And who doesn’t love flattery?
People can like your statements, your political beliefs or the fact that you just farted. And with each like, it makes us feel more important, more popular. Facebook promotes a false sense of worth and importance. Just because 42 people liked that you thought the guy sitting by you on the bus smelled like ass, doesn’t mean that 42 people want to actually hang out with you and hear your thoughts in person. Seventy people liked that I was engaged and I can guarantee you that not even half of them will get wedding invites (and it’s not because we’re on a budget).
Truly befriending someone used to be saying, “I enjoy your company. Let’s hang out and have conversations in person and do fun stuff together.” In the online world, “friending” means, “I want to know what you ate for dinner.That’s all.” Facebook has turned us all into miniature (or in some cases, big time) stalkers.
Being my “friend” on facebook means that you get to see that I ate the best effing burrito of my life, in addition to all of these awesome benefits of a real life friendship. If you’re my “friend,” I want to hang out with you. And I don’t mean in Google+. I mean, hang out, like...for real. I would not be put off if you asked to go get coffee or do things that friends do. Facebook should be an added bonus to being my real friend - not the basis for our entire relationship.
So in that sense, if I unfriend you, see it as a favor (or birthday gift). I’m not wasting your time or invading your privacy, and I am preventing you from doing the same to me. Life is too short to harbor useless relationships. And facebook sucks up enough of our time as it is to realize we’re spending it stalking people we don’t care about anyway.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but facebook “friends” should really just be friends.