the curious case of unfriending

It’s recently come to my attention that a few people have unfriended me on facebook. It seems like this is a sore subject for many, especially considering the whole fiasco at HTMLGiant the other month. I’m mostly curious about what it is that I did that caused these unfriendings, since one of these people even gave to my indiegogo campaign, which means the unfriending was pretty recent.

That’s not to say I blame them or even hold it against them. I think a lot of people take unfriending far too seriously and personally. It’s hard for me to do that, since I used to unfriend people almost constantly. Up until 2010, I tried to keep my friend count around 300, because I didn’t see a point in having so many friends online. I also only sent maybe a handful of friend requests out until 2011, when I was living in Korea and didn’t have a phone so facebook was my only real form of communication. And so, for me, facebook hasn’t ever really been a personal reflection of my like and/or dislike of people. It was more about making space, because what is the real purpose of having 1,000 friends?

I remember judging people super hard in college when they had 1,000 friends, and I thought it was absurd when people had even more than that. I’m certain a lot of people probably took my unfriending as something personal or accusational back then, when, to me, all it meant was that we probably hadn’t spoken within six months.

Now I’m crawling towards the 1,000 friend mark and it still feels absurd. Even more absurd now that the majority of my friends are people I’ve met only once, and many who I’ve yet to meet. Such is the life of an independent artist part of a pretty vibrant community of other dummies playing at art. And the strangest thing is that I love these people. I talk to some of them more than I talk to my family members. They were there to help me when I was scammed. They were there to encourage me when I was tearing out my brain and heart and painting page after page with the wreckage.

Which brings me to something else about facebook: those people who use it for pure social interaction seem to disappear. I rarely see posts by people from high school or college, and I think it’s because most people grow past it. I actually wouldn’t use it at all, if not for the connection to all the wonderful writers and greater community. Taking a permanent leave from facebook is, essentially, cutting ties with so many people who simply do not exist within easy access, but who I value immensely as people and friends. And so I keep facebook, almost begrudgingly, but I also sort of completely love social media. It’s a tool, and it’s a tool that adapts to you. You get to design its purpose and cater it to your interests.

I would say that I use it primarily as a networking service and a collection of the day’s news, with the added feature of allowing me to keep in touch with friends who I rarely see. So facebook has become sort of a collection of resources. I get my news, I get connection, I get networking, and I get to spout off my own personal brand of nonsense.

It gives me a platform to reach too many open ears.

Which brings me to yet another point!

We act like facebook, and social media in general, is a large public forum. And, in a sense, it is. But I think it’s more accurate to think of it as millions of overlapping private forums. What I say on facebook is public, and what you say is public, but what you say on my wall, or what you comment on my posts becomes a part of my private forum. And I get to control that. And the same is true of your wall.

And this is why blocking, unfriending, whatever–none of that feels necessarily personal to me. So, if these people who unfriended me meant it personally, and that’s more than completely possible, it’s hard for me to feel insulted by it.

I mostly just felt strange upon realising it, because I’ve interacted with these people, and not even that long ago.

And people have the right to unfriend or block me. I think I’m a pretty likeable person, but I’m confident that there are people out there who despise me and all the things I do. That’s part of being alive, yeah? And my politics–those don’t exactly make me friends, if you get me. I’m a radical type, and I’m not afraid to yell it into the night. And I’m sure there are those who find my humor the opposite of funny, or my frequent updates as the epitome of annoying. I know there are a lot of people who I’ve blocked from my newsfeed because of their idiotic ideologies or their uncouth commentary, or just their annoying use of social media.

It’s life, and it’s what happens when you exist in a thousand private forums all washing together.

And so what causes someone to unfriend someone else?

Could be any of the above reasons. Hopefully I didn’t rub them the wrong way, but if I did, I’d apologise if we were still facebook friends, I guess. Not much for me to do now, yeah?

Anyrate, I’ve run out of words for this topic, but if you’ve read this, all you should take from it is this:

Don’t take unfriending personally or too seriously. There are far too many things in the world that matter. Who likes you is certainly not one of them. It shouldn’t even be on your register of monthly concerns.

Just carry on. Live well, be kind, and do good where you can.

Those who love you will keep loving you. Those who don’t will go on unloving you.

Here’s a song to carry with you.