I’ll admit– lately I’ve been quick to pull the ‘unfriend’ trigger on Facebook.
If the thought just touches my mind that I should defriend someone, I do it. No more thinking too hard about it or weighing my options about what their Facebook friendship means to me or wondering what I will do when I can’t see the pictures they uploaded of themselves or of the wilderness– or whatever prevents the average person from just biting the bullet and ending a social network relationship.
Yesterday though, I went on a killing spree and axed 95 Facebook friendships.
It started out innocently enough. I logged in and saw somebody on my FB newsfeed who I had totally forgotten was my internet friend to begin with. I made a meager attempt at raising an eyebrow out of curiosity and pondered aloud “how did you get there?” I decided in a whirlwind of period crampage, one too many cups of coffee, and general thoughts of what friendship even really means to people– to unfriend this person.
And then it happened. I began diving deeper and deeper into my absurdly large friends list of 712 people -now 711- and I realized this is garbage. Who are all of these people?
Now, I’m a firm believer in not being friends with someone on a social network such as FB that I haven’t actually met in person -and for the most part- I hold this belief true. But as I began weeding in and out of mutual friends and friendships, it became apparent that a lot of these “friends” were not in any way an actual friend and considering the shoddy and inappropriate material I am occasionally known to share on the world wide web, I just started deleting them. One became two and two became four and four became eight and next thing you know, I was laughing maniacally and smoke was pouring from my fingertips as I clicked the mouse button over and over. Unfriend. Unfriend. Unfriend.
By the time I dusted my eyelids with shadow, ran a lint roller over my waitressing apron, and made my way out the door to head to the Sushi Bar for a night of “working,” I had slaughtered a staggering 82 Facebook friendships. I felt relieved. I felt empowered. Quite frankly, I felt good.
I carried this feeling into work with me, which was dreadfully slow. I made a whole $1. (That is not in any way a joke– I literally made one dollar.) More or less, the night consisted of my coworkers and I discussing female masturbation bars with some locals that we always enjoy having grace our bar. Somehow however, the topic of me deleting all of my friends on Facebook came up.
Idle hands will do stuff, they say– or something like that. Typically my idle hands prefer to sext people, but as that was not an option at that moment and I was excruciatingly bored, I went into my Facebook mobile and started the train of eliminating more online relationships.
And then I stopped.
Staring back at me was my friend Sarah’s profile picture in which she was making some face and our friend Matt had a fistful of her hair in his hand while sniffing it. My mind began working overtime and a fiendish smile began to creep throughout my lips.
“I should defriend Sarah.” I said out loud to no one in particular.
Alex -our bartender with a general bitter taste in her mouth for “public”- slammed her hand on the marble bar top having overheard me, cocked her head back, and accessorized by a deep laugh shouted “do it! She’s gonna freak out!’ Rob, the sushi chef, popped his head up from rolling seaweed with rice and fish, smiled a big, toothy grin, and let out a simple, elongated “yessss.”
Now, for those of you that do not understand why this is as amusing as it is, let me explain: Sarah and I are very close friends -she’s been mentioned in previous blogs- and she is my favorite friend to torment– especially on the internet. I’ve gone through and ‘liked’ everything on her Facebook wall so she would awake to 174 notifications. One time, after she announced to me “you’ll never guess who I made out with last night,” I uploaded a picture of the dude on Facebook titled Everyone, this is who sarah made out with last night -set it so only she could see it- and waited for my phone to ring and hear her have a panic attack on the other end. We have a running game of who can out-do the other with ridiculous Christmas gifts– she once gave me a bracelet of photographs of her face and I retaliated with a bobble-head made in my likeness. We constantly rib each other and honestly, it’s my favorite kind of friendship. I know damn well, that Sarah will be in my life for all eternity.
But defriending her on Facebook, this -this- was ripe. First, she’d never see it coming in a million years. Even knowing that I was on an unfriending rampage, I knew she would be sitting at home on her bed, laptop warming her thighs, feeling completely safe from extermination from my FB. Second, there was no doubt in my mind she would take it hotly personal and lose her mind for a moment. And third, I figured -as it was getting later in the evening- she’d probably had a couple drinks which would only liven the excitement.
It was genius.
I’ll admit, when I went to her profile page, I paused. I knew that chances were once I defriended her, she was going to freak out, and I also knew that in retaliation, she was going to be stubborn and declare us facebook friends no more forever. My finger hovered just above the ‘unfriend’ button as Alex watched. Finally, she whipped her head so hard in obvious disgust that her ponytail went flying from one side of her head to the other and she proclaimed “oh, just do it. It’s only Facebook, for Christ’s sake!”
And folks, that was just it. It’s only Facebook. It’s not the actual basis for friendship. People forget that. Could I handle Sarah getting upset about it enough that she’d probably never be my Facebook friend again? Yes. Could I handle never reading Sarah’s status updates about bow ties and Harry Potter dreams again? Yes. Could I handle her sending me curse-filled texts and calling me a bad friend for a few nights? Definitely yes. I mean really, I can handle anything for a good laugh and I don’t need a Facebook friendship to be someone’s friend. My friendship shines best in real life.
So I did it. Unfriend. Poof. Gone. See ya, bye.
The wait was agonizing. I was determined not to hint at it and let her figure it out all on her own. Alex kept glancing over and saying “any word? Ugh. I’m going to send her a text that says maybe you should check your friends list for someone named Becki Trudell.”
But she didn’t, and when Sarah did finally text me it was about something entirely unrelated. We all deflated.
When I got home from work that night, still waiting to hear about it from Sarah, my boyfriend Mike announced “Sarah called.” I began to tingle with anticipation. I called her back. No answer. I texted her saying I called her back and got no answer.
I knew then that she knew. And when she did finally text me, it was everything I could have asked for.
I spent the rest of the night laughing hysterically, unable to stop.
Sarah and I are no longer Facebook friends, and although I’m sure -some day- our online friendship will continue where it left off, for now we will spend our days wondering what, if anything, is going on on the other’s wall.
Fact is social networkers of the interwebs, as much as your online persona is a kind-of extension of yourself, it does not set the base for friendship. Friendship is what happens in real life, and -hopefully- friendship makes you laugh and happy and is full of actual fun things and high fives, hugs, back slaps, cuddles, fist bumps, holding hair when another is puking, puking on their shoes, burp contests, giggling, eye contact, sharing a whole box of donuts, and judging a stranger’s choice of shoe, kind of things. You can write on someone’s wall all the live-long day that you miss them, but what does that even mean if you don’t follow-up on that, you know, in the flesh? Just because you cancel a friendship on the internet does not mean that friendship is non-existent. That person is still living, breathing, carrying on day-to-day, able to speak words that you can actually hear- text you, call you, wave at you, hug you. They are not a status update you can’t read or a profile picture you cannot view. You can see them if your paths cross, and that’s the relationship that matters.
We as human beings put too much stock into our interactions on the internet. It’s a great method of keeping in touch, sharing stories, pictures, news, and obviously– joking around. But it’s not where friendship finds it’s footing. Sarah and I would not be the friends we are today if it wasn’t for laughing, staying up too late drinking wine, talking on the phone for 4 hours straight, discussing books, relationships, politics, and ourselves. Facebook is not the reason our relationship is what it is. If you want to delete someone– do it. It’s not the end of the world, your relationship, or whatever you think is a good enough reason to stop you. In this case, a good, belly-hurting, knee-slapping laugh came from the termination of a social networking correspondence.
Because, after all, “it’s just Facebook,” and it’s scientifically proven (it is, I swear) that two friends sharing a bottle of whiskey face-to-face, in the flesh, sitting on a couch laughing, is much better for the soul than two friends commenting on one another’s mobile uploads.
I was going to wait a day or two before I began the ribbing again, but I was still laughing so hard about it this morning, I couldn’t take it and I did something I’ve never done before…
I “poked” her. Whatever that actually is. And I’m just going to keep doing it until we’re both sitting on my couch, drinking in excess, laughing about it.
(Seriously guys, every minute so far has been worth it.)