I don’t understand facebook. I don’t understand the terms of the words used on facebook. “Friends”. Okay? I know what that means but it doesn’t have the same meaning I associate it with. It is a very loose generalization of a held very dear to me term. I am not just “friends” with anyone. I don’t let “just” anyone in. The other day a friend and I were having this exact same conversation. She is about 10 years younger than me and I said, “I had to disconnect my facebook from my phone. It makes me nuts.” She tilts her head to the side befuzzled and says, “Really?” Then we started talking about the word “friend”.
As we talked we both kind of uncovered that my real hang up is that I am the old lady that hangs her hat on the idea that a “friend” is a real friend. Which means I take away a very different meaning of facebook than most. If I get friend requests from random people that I know and either don’t like or have no desire to be friends I reject. I made the joke she was a facebook whore who was friends with anyone and everyone and then I realized that the misunderstanding is with me not with others and that the idea of social networking is to expand your social networks and befriend everyone.
Here’s my disconnect: Understanding that it doesn’t mean you are really friends. It is important to understand that meaning because it gets you in trouble or causes misunderstanding. Let me translate that for you. You get hurt. And I did or do. I read some status messages and I think, “really? I am friends with that person?” Or “Dang, you couldn’t even bother to like my damn post or respond back when I am sure to always respond to you. I mean that is what friendship is right? It is reciprocal. And I kill myself at times to make it such. Unfortunately, that is not how you are supposed to use facebook and you are setting yourself up if you think it is. And I did.
I have always had a very tight knit group I let around me. I probably could count three “real” friends that I would even qualify as my best friends and ironically most of our communication takes place outside of facebook. The idea of friends has changed so drastically since facebook entered the picture and when I look back at the last 3-4 months of my life I realized I really confused it and caused myself more irritation, hurt and anger than I ever needed too.
Thankfully about a month ago I realized it. I liberated myself and hit the ol’ “logout” button on my blackberry. My real friends have my # and can text me. Then, I got sick and most of the computer time was limited to work and homework so facebook visitings were weaned and I haven’t care really. I just wish I could logout forever sometimes.
The hard thing though is giving it up all together. I am graduate student and it is a great life line to my classmates, peers, professors and what is going on at my university. So I just can’t bring myself to delete it entirely. And have you ever seen the face of anyone when you tell them you don’t facebook? I don’t want to be the odd ball that doesn’t facebook.
But please tell me that we are not so well connected in this world that we share every minute detail of our lives with others and that means nothing? To me it does mean something. When I posted I was sick I did so, so self consciously. I filtered my post like crazy and then I went even further and deleted it after a few hours because I believed those that really cared about it at all read it and got what they needed to know (yes I know I am weird). It was then I realized I am the one with the problem. I have used facebook wrong all along.
I thought since so and so told me she was in love with her long time boyfriend and got engaged and they are expecting their first and she shared that special news with me, it meant something. I also thought since “friend” shared that she spent most of the night up throwing up and feels awful today taking care of her littles that she wants a little support from me, her “friend” so I provide it because boy howdy I have been there. Or that since my “friend” was feeling conflicted over decisions she had made about her marriage and her guy and posted it in her status that I would do the friendly thing and send her a little note of encouragement that she was doing great. But it didn’t mean much to her. To me it did.
So again the problem is me. I just have to accept that I am obviously too old for facebook. Or I need to detach myself from that little word “friend” when I am facebooking. Eventually, I see myself disconnecting totally but maybe that might be better done after this semester is over. When I am disconnected from the university for a time. Then I can see if I think it is so pivotal once I return in the fall. The good news is I have one more year left. I am not interested in changing who I am for facebook because I was always raised you have to be a friend to have a friend. I am that nice girl that will always click “like” for you and will probably always provide a little encouragement at your every status message. Even the ones that make me scratch my head and I am kind of okay with that.