Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The End of the Friendship

The New Oxford American English Dictionary New Word of the Year 2009 was "Unfriend".

Unfriend, verb, as in to delete someone as a friend on a social network such as Facebook.

In this time of new etiquettes and niceties it can be hard to know when to "unfriend" a person, or indeed, how to react when you have been "unfriended" yourself.

I'm a facebook nut. I organise a lot of my life through it - it's how I keep my book group on the straight and narrow, it's how I keep up with friends overseas and gym buddies get organised, it's how I arrange my tarot jobs. I'm currently arranging my overseas trip over it as it's how I communicate with family in the US. It's also how I live vicariously through other's lives and it's a way to be a voyeur on a limited basis - we all love to watch after all.

I think, with limitations, it's a great tool. I still make sure I meet up face to face or over the phone regularly. Facebook is not my life - it just helps to keep it running.

The wonderful thing about social networking is that you can participate as much or as little as you want to, and because of this, I've very que sera, sera about the whole internet friendship thing. I believe in tight security - other than an email address that my "friends" can see, I have no contact details or other identifying information. Nor is acceptance to every silly apps request taken up - I play the games I want to play with like minded people - so my Farmville addiction is kept to my other Farmville addict friends. My status is normally set to something running related and it gets changes every few days. It's just a way I keep in touch.

What disturbs me is when relationships change through this social networking. Again, I have no problems when loose aquaintences drop me from their lists. I'm pretty picky about who I have as an internet friend. As a rule I have to at least know them and have met them face to face. There are one or two exceptions, but this is my general rule.Other people may see it differently.

I've unfriended a few people over the while - normally guys I've had one or two internet dates with, will never see again and have no desire to see again after contact wanes. I don't have a problem with this. I've also got the odd message saying, "Not using facebook any more - don't think I don't like you." before contact has been removed.

It's when somebody who you've known and loved for years suddenly has removed you for no apparent reason, that's when I get uneasy. Which happened to me a few months ago. A friend from England, who has been like a brother to me since the mid nineties, after emigrating to Australia, we'd has been in frequent contact over those ten years. Suddenly, he jumps ship. This guy knows a lot of my friends, he's been on holidays with a lot of us. I was the first person he called when his father died a few years ago. Mid last year he moved back to Europe, changing countries in that time. Somewhere between moving from one European country to another, he unfriended me.

Perplexing me more, he's also not responded to emails, left a phone number or made any contact. I've sent mails telling him of the pending birth of Blarney's twins. I've let him know about the competition win. I've asked about his wellbeing and how things are on a few occasion -  no response. Zip. Nada. No contact from him at all.

I'm being as grownup about this as I can. It's not the act of unfriending that annoys me - though I do know he's still on the social networking site, I don't give a fig if he's my facebook 'friend'. It's the cessation on contact - I have no idea what I have done to make him break the contact. He's said nothing at all - not a word. Nor has he contacted my friends or responded to their emails. It's the passive-aggressive nature of the act that makes me so uncomfortable. We've known each other for fifteen years, seen each other through all sorts of stuff. We were chatting regularly online until his last move. I don't know what I've said or done. That's the hard thing.

I just want to say, "If you don't want to be my friend - my real friend - tell me to my face." I'd rather know than be left in the dark.

In this case, I find the act of unfriending is cowardly.

Card of the Blog:  Seven of Cups - making emotional choices for the right reason



Kilometres walked since 29 January: 118 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 65.5 km
Currently reading: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 1.4 kg


Kath Lockett said...

That's awful, Pandora. I use FB too and find that these days I mostly enjoy just reading everybody's statuses and then log off.

His behaviour is cowardly and FB unfortunately allows this type of behaviour. Only a couple of years ago the harshest and most impersonal way to 'delete' someone was by SMS; now it's Facebook.

Pandora Behr said...

If I'm honest, he and I had a few issues around ideology - he's a Christian - I'm not. Still I have the belief you should treat people the way you wish to be treated yourself. Still it's odd when my Mum asks after him.