I had the interesting experience of being unfriended on Facebook this week.

It's not like I've never been unfriended before.  I have.  But usually by peripheral relationships--where reasons can vary from politics, to 'over posting' to a simple culling to make Facebook more managable.

This is the first time I was ever unfriended by...well, a friend. And here's the thing.  It hurt me.  Just like I was a kid again back on the playground in elementary school.

And that was a surprise.

So, I let it bug me for awhile.  Thought of all of the possible scenarios for why someone would logically do that and came up empty. When I called, I got an answer that wasn't very satisfying, so I e-mailed to say "i didn't get it."

I got a very nice e-mail in return assuring me we were still actually friends with an explanation that made me feel a little better, but the experience remains.

It is interesting to me that the two major friend issues I've had in the past few years have been over Facebook. And while some would shake their head and say "tsk, tsk, that's social media for you," I have a different view.

One of the things that made the playground so powerful is that we were there every day.  In our grown up lives we are busy.  We don't touch our entire social circle daily like we did in elementary school.  At least, we didn't until Facebook.  Facebook creates a virtual playground where you encounter people by simply running into them. Remember calling out things to each other as you ran through the school doors out into the yard?  Asking someone to race you to the swings? Those things weren't planned.  We saw a friend and wanted to be with them.

Oh sure, some people can decide not to engage.  (Like the kids who sat by the wall and read a book.)  But many of the other social interactions wind up the same.

In this virtual playground, telling someone you aren't their friend or won't join their group actually feels like rejection. And it is.


Melissa Pellegrin said...

There are a few people who I have tried to "friend", but won't accept. I had to re-evaluate the "friendship." While we had been friends at one point in time, it was obvious that was no longer the case.

The really bothering point of that is not knowing why. What was it that made the friendship go sour, if that is the case. With Facebook, you do not get explanations. That is where the rejection stings.

Maybe I am wrong, most people want to know why they are getting rejected. On the playground, you got the rejection explanation quite quickly. It was harsh, but at the same time, one would quickly get over it and move on. Now, that we are older, people are taught to be kinder and by not giving an explanation, that is the easiest let down. I am not saying it is right, but that is how they "roll."

Call me a "collector", but I don't think I have out and out unfriended anyone. Mainly because I see Facebook as a way to see how people are doing. A new means of keeping in touch.

Cathy_H said...

@Melissa, I agree. We always want to know why.

Lara @ What Dreams May Come said...

Thank you for this post!! I am featuring it on my blog (as I'm coping with my "unfriend" situation)

I love your perspective about the playground....so true.

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