Recently, I discovered I had been defriended by someone on Facebook. This isn’t a reason to call the local papers (what’s a paper?). Nor does it really even merit a passing mention on a mediocre blog such as this. In short, who gives a shit? But I’m not going to let lack of general interest or importance prevent me from writing something that I think is going to be hilarious. Or at the very least, awesome. Right?
Getting defriended is not at all remarkable. Who among us hasn’t accepted someone’s virtual friendship after meeting them at a bar or a conference or a swingers party, only to completely forget who they are a month later and remove them from your FB friend zoo? But what is noteworthy is getting defriended by someone you see on a regular basis. With whom you believed you were friends. Or at the very least cordial acquaintances. This is what happened to me. Get your tissues out.
It should be noted that I realize this defriending is a stupid middle class problem of our ridiculous modern age. I get that this is a silly thing to be perturbed about, like a dropped cell phone call or a long stoplight or the pizza delivery guy forgetting your tub of ranch dressing. Before Facebook ruined my life, I knew who my friends were. They were the people ignored much of what I said and agreed to go to the movies with me because I would give them rides and I wasn’t likely to steal their boyfriends. I didn’t have to “accept” their friendship by pressing a button, nor did I have to send them a request. We were just organic pals. When they didn’t want to be friends anymore, they usually just changed their phone number or moved cities without telling me. Easy.
Now it’s more complicated.
If you want to be Internet friends with someone, it’s a bit like a mating dance. It’s a game of wills. Should I friend or should I not friend? Will it look desperate if I friend? How long after meeting do I friend? Is it dumb to use “friend” as a verb so many times in a paragraph? Am I overthinking things? Does this make me a loser? All signs point to yes.
Over the years, I’ve developed a few rules for Facebook friendships. These are uncharted waters with many hidden shoals. I’d rather be safe than sorry:
1. I don’t accept the virtual friendship of someone I’ve never actually met. (Exception — Some people have been grandfathered in because they entered my Facebook orbit before I made firm rules. Those are the people whom I wouldn’t recognize if I fell over.)
2. Just because we once attended the same school does not make us friends, so don’t expect an acceptance.
3. I will hide you from my newsfeed if you are compulsively annoying and obsessively post photos of your baby, your cat, the shoes you just bought or the many different angles of your gigantic engagement ring.
4. I will hide you from my newsfeed if you can’t prevent yourself from posting inspirational or aspirational quotes. Really, any quotes at all, unless they have come from the mouth of St. Dolly Parton.
5. I will hide you from my newsfeed if you insist on tagging me in photos from 20 years ago. It was not a high-water mark for any of us beauty-wise, so why draw people’s attention to just how hideous we (I) were (was)?
6. I will hide you from my newsfeed if I am repelled by you, but have to pretend for various reasons that I like you.
7. I will not defriend you unless you are a total tosspot and make me regret being part of the human race.
This last rule is important because it strikes at the heart of my beef with the person who defriended me recently. Defriending someone whom you can’t even remember friending in the first place is acceptable. Defriending someone who is in your circle of friends is just awkward. It’s both passive aggressive and hostile. Is that possible? I don’t know. But that’s what it is. It’s the defriender saying “I really don’t care for you, but I’m too much of a puss to tell you that to your face.” But they’re saying it in the public square and then a bunch of scruffy tent-dwellers cum human microphones are repeating it for the 99 percent to hear.
It’s not that I’m so pissed that I got defriended. Lord knows it’s happened before. Like about 300 times. It’s more the implication of the defriending or what was trying to be conveyed. And what was being conveyed is this — that someone I know doesn’t like me. Hold on while I go cry my eyeballs out until I throw up over this revelation. But I guess at this point in Facebook’s maturation, when the novelty of the shiny new thing gone and it’s completely lost its luster and no one gives a shit who they’re friends with because everyone has moved over onto Twitter, what’s the point of defriending someone? It’s not like you get demerits for keeping someone on the friend rolls. Culling Web friends just seems like a colossal waste of time that could otherwise be spent scrolling through websites with photos of baby animals being adorable.