Thursday, February 11, 2016

Unfriended: Thoughts on Facebook Friendship

This morning at breakfast, I thought of a friend for some reason. I hadn’t heard from him for quite sometime (well, ‘heard’ as in ‘Facebook interaction” such as LIKE, COMMENT or STATUS UPDATE.”) So I looked him up and learned that we were no longer connected. Boom! I was actually shocked that he unfriended me while he’s still friends with Michael, Jenna, Pauline and even Lisa. Yes, that bitchy Lisa that he never even liked.

Ouch! And why, I began to wonder. Of all people that could potentially unfriend me. Him?? I didn’t see that coming. Nope. I have been dropped from people’s Facebook before and I have done the same a number of times. Usually annoying acquaintances or people I met once but I won’t ever meet again. Now this is someone I have known for over a decade. We were not the best of friends but we got on really well. We partied together for years, had lots of mutual friends, he stayed at my house and I stayed at his during my visit a few years ago. We are both into photography and would compliment each other’s work with the generous clicking of LIKE button, you know, lots of fun and fond memories.

I immediately thought, one of my FB posts must have offended him, which is feasible. These days, ya know. Don’t people get mad on social media all the time and start fighting viciously in the comment section all? Let me explain though. My Facebook posts usually are upbeat, humorous and pop-culture-oriented but every now and then, I’d get real and share my honest innermost thoughts, lightly laced with rant, sarcasm and wrath… perhaps. I’m only human. I’m no angel but far from being an evil. Like many, I can be cynical and sensitive but mostly I keep it light and fun on Facebook.  And I’m proud that I’m able to laugh at my silly-self and poke fun of my ridiculous lifestyle that I often share with friends and followers on social media. And I have always believed that those who know me get me well. I thought he was one of those.  

I have had run-ins in the past with some Facebook friends who are, in reality, Facebook police in disguise looking for political correctness (or their version of truth.) You know the type of people I’m talking about, right? They are not afraid to call out people publicly if and when offenses come. They feel entitled to fix the world and most importantly fix you and all things that are wrong with you via Facebook. Personally I would never feel comfortable to “openly” criticize/shame/persecute people, let alone my friends, on social media, for what, a wonky status update, over a Youtube link? It’s not my place. Hey, different folks, different strokes. I may disagree or express my alternative view in the most civilized way possible for we are all grown-ups. But that’s it.

I have had my fair share of direct confrontations by this type of Facebookers for my reckless random ramblings; be it a joke deemed tasteless or a comment that hit too close to home…well, allegedly and according to them. I’m thinking of that one time I upset a friend with a joke about ‘beating my maid’ (which obviously wasn’t the truth! I’d not hurt a fly… unless of course it’s buzzing me around in circles) or when I went to the bullfight in Madrid and one of my girlfriends who had never even been to Spain freaked out. She lectured me on animal cruelty at length accusing me of feeding the industry with my tourist money (in reality, 95% attendance comes from the locals and the rest, curious tourists like me but never mind) I also once lost a friend who is Iraqi Muslim when I expressed my opinion about the Rohingya situation back home in my country. He wrote me a scathing personal message calling me names and concluding that he no longer wanted to be my friend. Yes, one opinion could cost earned friendship of many years. Believe it or not! Some are classy. They may throw in a subtle shade showing their displeasure in the comment box every now and then and are able to move on. Or some just simply ignore and instead give the silent treatment, also known as the unfollow button). That’s okay. That’s the way to do it. I do the same.

Anyway, so…I dug up my memory desperately seeking what might have possibly offended him, yes, to the man that got away, in the last few months.  If you take away my frequent travel photography, which, let’s be real now, everyone adores, my well-known admiration of Mariah Carey and my expert predictions for Miss Universe (both sort of niche but my friends & followers bear with these posts and I’m thankful) and in between animal videos and shared food recipes, I don’t even have time to be controversial or offensive enough…you know,to lose an old friend. 

Wait, maybe… just maybe, I might have lost him during that time when Paris was attacked, the whole world mourned and Facebook was overwhelmed with tributes to Paris. We, the Paris grievers, were subsequently prayer-shamed by certain few who started this Why-not-also-pray-for-Beirut campaign. Oh yes, I updated my status and gave them a piece of my mind. In my usual benevolent, non-violent, charming manner of course. (Meow!)

Well, it could have been that but the truth is... I don’t and will never know what made this friend unfriend me. I will probably never get the closure. Unless of course I fly on the airplane, go to his house, ask him point black “Why the fuck did you unfriend me from Facebook?” But is it worth it? Probably not. Or say we meet again at some party at some point and have a group selfie and I go, "Wait, I can't tag you because you unfriended me. And now explain!" Nah...I’ll just shake it off and let it slide.

So... Are we being judged based on our Facebook posts? And is it fair? Do our Facebook profiles define who we really are? How honest and accurate are we with what we put out for the world to see? Isn’t Facebook really our poker face? How well do our friends know us via Facebook? And finally, Is it all worth it to drop a good friend over a post that you happen to disagree?

Does this incident bother me? Yes, I admit that it does to an extent. If this happened in real life and not on social media, say, the assumed disagreement took place at a dinner table, we would talk it out, likely get mad but our friendship would have been still intact. We at least would have a chance to explain ourselves. Now all I have are whys and what ifs.

In our lifetime, we all experience the twists and turns of life. People come and go. Some stay, some drop out and some may reappear. Misunderstanding, disagreement, unfortunate circumstances, jealousy and other humanly emotions can also cause friendship to wither. I have a handful of really close friends and 600 something Facebook friends. The number of the latter fluctuates, evidently, and it really should not matter. The more I talk to folks who are older, wiser and more experienced; aka "those who have no fucks left to give for they have seen it all", the clearer it is, because they tell me, that such matters are nothing but a part of life.We may not get all the answers that we are searching for. But life goes on. At some point in life, you start caring less about what others think of you, they say. I can't wait to get there. 

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