October 13, 2011
The following was written by Jana Dykstra, regular contributor to Everyday Mom
Is Facebook for real?
Two weeks ago I was randomly checking out the happenings on Facebook one evening and saw that one of my friends changed her life status from married to single. This is a friend of mine that was married to a good friend of mine from school (Which would her slightly more than an acquaintance, I guess) and they live in my hometown. Neither of the individuals in this couple were very active Facebook people-they rarely posted anything, but occasionally there would be vacation pictures or pictures of their children. We would see them every once in a while when we were visiting my family, but we didn’t keep in touch very often.
When I saw her change of status and the comments that were made below it, I knew this was not just a glitch in the system or a poor attempt at humor. This was real–they were either getting a divorce or were officially divorced. A sad situation for sure.
One of my initial reactions to reading this change was “What? How did I not know this? How could this happen – they seem so good, so happy!?”
Really? Did I think those things? Absolutely I did! And how ridiculous am I?
I spent a lot of time thinking about this situation and my reaction to it. I mean, really, how would I have known that they were having issues? Or that they were not together? We don’t keep in touch. But it feels like we’re friends and it feels like we keep in touch – because we’re on Facebook.
So I started to think about Facebook and my use of it. And I became more and more
disgusted by the whole thing. I’ve joked in the last few weeks that Facebook is taking over the world – it seems that way to me. Nearly every webpage you visit has a button that you can click on to share the page with your Facebook friends. Facebook is not only a thing any more – its is also a verb. It is a rare thing when I meet someone who is not on Facebook… yes some people are more active than others, but in general, most people are on Facebook.
And then I started thinking about the conversation that would happen if I ran into
someone from high school or college that I was friends with on Facebook. The
“catching up” that would take place would involve a lot of “I saw on Facebook that…” And it made me sad. These are not true, authentic relationships. These are people that we somehow know… in fact, once I had a lady request my friendship because I sold her something off of eBay. Is that a friend? Is there a reason for this “friendship”? Yet, it feels like we have a relationship with them because we can keep up with the general happenings of their lives (the happenings they want their Facebook friends to know about, anyway).
I have always been a bit ruthless in my maintenance of my friend list. It all started when I realized that my Facebook friendship with someone made me very self-conscious. So I fired her. And I felt free. So I started firing a few more people. And then every time my list of friends was more than 200 I would fire people again – I simply can’t keep up with more than that. So I’ve always culled my list (and oftentimes wanted to include a note to the person that said: Dear X, it was nice checking out your profile for 10 minutes, that’s really all that I wanted – or all you wanted. Have a good life!)
This time, however, I had certain parameters that a “friend” had to meet in order to be safe from my firing spree. Did this person fall into one of these categories:
- Close Friend
- Involved with our family in some way – parents of my girls’ friends, piano
teacher, babysitter, etc.
- An employee or spouse of an employee at my husband’s firm
- A co-worker of mine
- Regularly interact with on Facebook already
- Requested my friendship within the last 3 months (I can’t be THAT ruthless
If a person did not meet one of those parameters he/she was fired. I went from 220
friends to 154 friends (and there are still a few people who are on the fence). That is nearly 70 people who were not “real” friends of mine, but with whom I felt like I had some sort of relationship!
I’ve decided that I would like to use Facebook as a communication tool rather than a way to feel like I have a relationship with a person. Facebook is definitely an easy way to communicate with people rather than trying to collect their email addresses, but is it really necessary for me to be a peeping tom in the lives of people who I just met or knew at some point in my life? And do I really want to let those people be a peeping tom on my life? My conclusion was: No.
My challenge for you today is to look through your list of friends on Facebook and
think about why they are your friends. Are there some that you need to fire?