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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Facebook unfriending

I've had a couple of baffling Facebook experiences in a row, like one right after another.

If you follow me at all on FB, I mean, read stuff I post, you know what I'm about, and it's not all cute kitten photos. I post a lot of pretty aggressive opinions, and I know not all my friends are comfortable with my views (on gay rights, on abortion rights, etc). Many just tolerate (or possible ignore) me, and a few have no problem challenging me in the comment (though it's not on those "hot button" issues - usually just on Obama and politics in general). Which is fine with me, of course - I like debate, I like the lively exchange of ideas. (As long as it's ideas and not personal - I did unfriend one person for making a mean personal comment, something like, "you think you're so smart blah blah blah" - fuck that, I didn't get online to get insulted by someone I barely know.).

So, the first thing that happened is that my uncle abruptly unfriended me when I liked a page with the F word on it (so each of the posts from that page, "I Fucking Love Science," that appeared on my wall contained the F word). I understand that it offended him, but he didn't even discuss it with me; he just sent me a message that he was unfriending me because of the page, and then he unfriended me. He subsequently refriended me, but I was a bit non-plussed by the whole incident. I mean, isn't his connection with me valuable enough to him to at least talk to me about the offending page? (Somewhat ironically, I subsequently unliked the page, not because it offended him, but because it had too much Carl Sagan worship for me - he was a great guy, but he wasn't a god . . . and my dad thought he was a sell-out.)

Then, maybe a week later, I saw a provocative fake quote from Jesus on a friend's page (nice liberal Jew), and I reposted on my wall.

Someone I know from Temple Concord (a convert), wrote a really scathing comment objecting to the post (she mentioned the 10 commandments, but I don't know which one she's referring to - does she mean I'm disrespecting God?) I explained why I liked it (mocking hypocrites is always worthwhile), but she insisted that she was owed an apology (the first such demand I have ever received on FB), and then she unfriended me without any further comment or communication.

I was surprised that she unfriended me because of that one post, though I should have realized once she demanded an apology, things were headed that direction. But I have to admit to being a bit taken aback. Again, people know who I am, they know what my opinions are. What I find a bit odd is that she's never commented on my posts or interacted with me at all on FB (I would have assumed that she wasn't actually following me at all). And we aren't especially good friends in real life either. I mean, we've talked, but we're not best buddies.

I have all different kinds of FB "friends" (and real life friends too) and many of them post things that I don't agree with (especially lots of "Jesus is Lord" stuff, and "repost if you love Jesus," which I'll admit, gets old - I'm not on FB to declare my faith; but on the other hand, they probably find my constant political posts to be a pain or a bore too). But I'm not kidding when I say it really doesn't bother me. I like finding out what people are about, especially when it's something I didn't know about them. I thought that was part of the fun. I thought that was part of the purpose. It certainly is for me (I'm particularly fascinated by an old friend, from grade school, who was a pretty rebellious young lady, and is now a very devout Christian with 4 kids - never would have predicted that!)

Oh well. I would say "good riddance," but I don't really feel that way. I would rather that she stay connected with me, and fight with me, than just tell me that I suck and storm off.  But I guess that's on her. That's her loss, if she wants to throw away the connection for that one thing.

Side note: I have a small confession - there are a couple of people that I have considered unfriending.  One, because her (infrequent) comments are kind of obnoxious, and a couple others because they post a lot and they're boring as shit. But I love a good fight, so I would never unfriend someone because I disagree with them.


I posted on FB about this issue and got some great comments, mostly from people saying they like my posts (how sweet of them to say so), but someone wrote this:

. . . sometimes in life as you get to know somebody, you find out that either they (sic) aren't the person that they thought you were, or your views about life issues are so far apart that being together brings no value to the relationship.

My gut reaction (besides questioning the very unkind phrasing - "brings no value to the relationship") is this: anyone who knows me for an hour knows exactly what they're getting with me - I have lots of opinions and I Don't Back Down. I'm not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm not an acquired taste either - I'm not some mystery that unfolds slowly. In general, I think this comment is true, that you can come to realize that you don't have anything in common. But I think I'm more knowable than most, because I don't hold much of anything back. This wording also puts the fault on me ("not the person they thought you were") rather than acknowledging that the person stormed off like a cranky child when they didn't like something I said.

Overall, the timing of this incident is interesting because I've been having a bit of an existential crisis about FB, like, why do I bother? and what's the value of it? So having this person unfriend me (so unfriendly!) and then to get all this encouragement - it's kinda perfect. Funny how the Universe delivered for me. (I have a couple more requests I'm working on sending out!!)



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