How Facebook Brings Cheer and Then Gloom!

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I’m a little disheartened but I think I should not let my emotions be overrun by someone who might be impulsive and insensitive.

I’ve been on Facebook for 6 years now – never been a die-hard fan – and all these years I’ve had friends come and go. They come (added) because either they or I have approved friend(s) request, and they go (removed) because either there’s been no contact with the friend or some exchange of words, hurting one, or both.

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Last year, I sent a friend request to someone I’d known from before. Though we hadn’t been close friends, we’d exchanged text messages and she’d invited me to her wedding. I couldn’t attend her wedding, but it wasn’t the reason why we lost contact thereafter for a decade. We weren’t close friends, until I found her on Facebook. She approved my request, was very pleased to be in touch, and we became virtual friends.

She liked my updates and commented on them, and I liked hers and commented too. She found my infant son to be super cute, and I found her 5-year-old son to be super loving. She was in India and I was in the US.

Then a time came when she sought my views about her possible move to the US with her son. She’s a naturalized American, and her son was born here, but she has lived in India for several years. I was glad that she was asking my opinion, which meant our friendship was maturing, and I advised her the way I would have.

My thoughts on how she and her son could live here included some pros and cons. A pro being, this is the best country to be in, and a con being, people might get lonelier after a while. She agreed, but also said that she was an American citizen and knew those things already – to which I said I’d never doubted that – that I was merely sharing my views since she’d sought them. Sensing that she was being rude, she made an effort to be cool in her later messages, like wondering if my zodiac sign was a certain sign, and she even liked a couple of my updates.

Hoping that our friendship wasn’t as slippery yet as a piled-up sleet would be after a Nor’easter, I asked her if she was on Whatsapp. Her response came after ten days in late Feb, which was unusual, because her responses before that often came within a day. Something was certainly amiss, and Facebook bought Whatsapp around the time.

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Day before yesterday, when I was sifting through my friends list, I noticed that she wasn’t my friend anymore, and my instinct uttered a doubt that she removed me from her list. It was a shock, so I put two and two together, making sense of whatever I had said. And nothing could have annoyed her enough to remove me.

Was it the word lonelier – which I had certainly not used because she’s a single mother – because in the US, you must entertain yourself without expecting others to do it, whereas In India, everyone’s interested in your life to the extent that they’d give you unsolicited advice, after serving tea. Here, it’s you for you, and there it’s they for you mostly – and both can cause pain in the arse, going British for a change.

I considered her a good friend, was honest in my interactions and have always wished her well, which she wouldn’t deny.

And it’s a fact that I also remove friends from my list, but I choose those I don’t interact with at all. If I received even a single like or comment from a friend, I wouldn’t delete that person. And I’d certainly remove those who hurt me irreparably. Did I hurt her irreparably?

I addressed my hurt caused by my sensitivity by sending a message to her on Facebook — that I also look at my list once a while and remove the ones I’ve lost connect with it, that her removing me must be due to a strong reason, and that I’d never have removed her [remember she called my son super cute (she probably didn’t mean that) and I called hers super loving (I meant)]. In that message, I also wished her and son good luck, giving her this blog’s address. She may or may not read what I’ve written here, but I wanted to get this off my chest. There’s been no response to my message.

I’ve begun to understand that though we weren’t close friends, we haven’t been friends at all. And if I look at my friends list, I may find many who aren’t buddies, although they might have liked my tattoo pictures.

I have also learned that not only is unsolicited advice unnecessary, but also solicited, and one-must-entertain-oneself (and-advice-oneself) makes sense, after all.

55 thoughts on “How Facebook Brings Cheer and Then Gloom!”

  1. Hi,

    What I’ve understood about relationships through social media is that many people are extremely friendly with each other, but only virtually. If you think about meeting them otherwise, many new friends hesitate. So don’t get disheartened. These virtual relationships are very superficial.

    I’m sure that she has read this blog and will understand that it isn’t right to write people off just like that. Although, I never delete people from my list. Who knows, how I might need their help in future. :P

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you Radhika for your time :-) Appreciate it, and I agree. But I knew her (in person) much before we met in the virtual world. Removing someone from the list may not be a big deal if you met someone through social media itself :-)

  2. One must use social media carefully. It can sour the best of friendships but it can also help you find some wonderful people. I try to maintain a balance between real life and social media interactions to ensure that I don’t get hurt :)

  3. Hey I liked your sense of expression :)
    And regarding this friend issue, from my life experience, I can say that an innocent word “Lonelier” can’t create this much damage, untill her English is too bad to understand this simple term :P (which I assume is not the case)
    There might be something else which you didn’t notice or realize in your last conversation.
    E.g. it might be your way of telling her or giving advice made her felt as if she is stupid or ignorant :P ;-)

    1. Thanks Osho for your time :-) I might have told her things in a pragmatic way, which I believe is how you give advice to a well-educated and sensible person. You’re probably right – she was scanning for ‘insensitivity’, and I was talking practical.

  4. Facebook is not reality, it just isn’t. Everything on FB is distorted, the way we portray our lives, our relationships, our humour, our vulnerability it’s all contorted and contrived. If you try to be real and genuine on FB you are shot down. Best avoided.

    1. Great point there, and I do agree, and that’s why I haven’t been a die-hard fan :-) It’s nothing but a medium using which people flaunt their “other” truth or existence. Thanks for your time :-)

  5. I un-friended someone once. She did offend me, but with good intentions. I knew in my head that it was done out of worry for me, but my heart felt she had violated my trust and it hurt every time I saw a post from her on my Facebook stream. I didn’t want to confront her, I just wanted to withdraw quietly. It took her a long time before she noticed I was gone. When she asked why, I didn’t explain. It had been months since the incident and I didn’t want to drag it up and argue about it.

    I think of Facebook as a bit like a Christmas newsletter mailing. You have news. You are telling this news to the world. You write it hoping everyone on your Christmas list will read. Some might just be tossing it in the trash. Some might just be because they are too busy and overwhelmed with so much mail at Christmas they can’t read it all. Some might be acquaintances who rarely see you but it is nice to see a card once a year as a reminder you were once friends. Others might be really grateful and read every line of your Christmas letter and be touched by it. The different degrees of affection the people have towards you and the time they devote to reading what you write and how close your relationship is with this person will vary. If you are really close friends, then you will write a letter personally to them, call them often, meet them in person. But maybe you just have a once a year exchange Christmas cards kind of relationship. That is OK. But it is always up to the reader if they want to read what you wrote.

    Facebook is faux-relationships for me. I can follow, get news about people I care about, see pictures of their kids growing up, but it is not the same as meeting in person and getting a hug. Facebook “friends” don’t qualify as real friends in my book if I am not having conversations one on one outside of Facebook.

    A problem arises when I forget that Facebook is only a weak substitute and think that it is real interaction.

    I bumped into a friend in town. We had been friends on Facebook, so we knew about each other’s life events, but when we thought back, we realized it had been 3 years since our last phone conversation or visit. Facebook gave just enough interaction that we forgot we hadn’t actually had a phone call in a really long time. I hadn’t meant to stop talking to her. We just misplaced each other, in the busy-ness of life in this information age when there is an onslaught of posts, tweets, and news that keeps us informed.

    I’m an introvert. I never kept in touch with hundreds of people, but I had significant friendships with many people over the years. Facebook isn’t the right medium for deep, significant friendships. It is only a shallow puddle. It gives the impression of socializing, but it is not the same.

    1. Thanks Julia for your time, and for your thought-provoking observation.

      ‘The different degrees of affection the people have towards you and the time they devote to reading what you write and how close your relationship is with this person will vary’ – you’re spot on here, and I think this is where most people go shallower – there’s a human tendency to interpret something ‘to be favoring us’ when in fact it may be favoring us only subtly (or not favoring at all). When there is no one-on-one interaction, we assume through posts and comments that somebody’s subtle liking and care is a true manifestation of friendliness and intimacy – and therefore, expectation from that someone goes up only to crumble, because what is on display are these two sham characters, with no depth.

      ‘I knew in my head that it was done out of worry for me, but my heart felt she had violated my trust and it hurt every time I saw a post from her on my Facebook stream’ – this makes so much sense and it is the blunt reality on Facebook. Look what Facebook can do – suspend us in midair with unnecessary apprehension. ‘Out of worry’ for someone on Facebook when most people can read who’s consoling who can be dangerous.

      Thanks once again for reading, writing and understanding this post so well :-)

  6. Sometimes when people ask for advice, they’re really asking you to just agree with whatever position they are holding. I’ve discovered that the hard way a few times! I enjoyed reading your breakdown of this entire situation. :)

    1. I couldn’t agree more. You’re so right! And in my particular case, she indeed was seeking my advice so I say yes to her-advice-to-herself. Lol! Appreciate your time :-)

  7. Hi, Mahesh. It’s so difficult to know what it might have been that led your friend to remove you from her list. I oftentimes agonize over what I did (or didn’t do) to prompt a negative reaction from someone. I received a perceived slight from someone on FB, and for months, was despondent over it. I finally, like you, reached out to her in a heartfelt email. Like your situation, I did not get a reply. The hurt deepened. I had finally come to terms with the loss of a friendship when, much to my surprise, I received a reply. What I perceived as a slight intended for me was not. She had been going through a rough time and actually had withdrawn from a lot of her friends. Today, I am happy to say, we are back on firm footing. So hang in there – you’ve done all you can and perhaps she will reach out to you again. In the meantime, do you best to let it go and move on.

    A tip for Facebook – I never “unfriend” anyone; I merely remove them from my newsfeed. It’s a setting you can click on any of their posts. They receive no notification that you have removed them and they still show up in your friend list. And if you ever want to go back and see what they’re up to (or add them back into your newsfeed), it’s a simple click to do so. No hurt feelings.

    1. Thanks Stacy :-) for a very positive comment and I truly appreciate your time.

      You’re right and you convincingly make me look at this from a different angle, and I understand that we cannot know for sure as to what was going through her and why she did what she did. I also understand that we must move on in life without wasting time and energy over it.

      Now if she deletes her Facebook account, I get a clear picture that she wants to be away from its shallow world – but when I see that she, after removing me, still has a lot of friends, I ask myself if she’s been my friend at all.

      But I’m willing to look at the bright side because there’s so much to do, see and achieve :-)

  8. Facebook indeed brings cheer and then gloom .I’d say that by personal experience !
    It happens a couple of times actually. It’s because I’ve got this crazy habit of unfriending people. Not to forget, they do the same to me as well :-D

  9. I was a Facebook user for three years then gave it up to pursue my career , before closing it I counted the number of posts , they were over 3000 posts!! Imagine, I am an aspiring writer so think of it that way ,3000 posts over 5000 words , I could have written a book edited it and published it !!!!!!

      1. Good idea ! But i guess not now as it would be very time consuming. The other thing I did was using Facebook as a platform for my writing, and unless I advertise them I didn’t get feedback I want and people who were supposed to be my friend carefully read what I wrote but never commented or liked , because when I closed it so many people noticed and were wondering if I stopped writing???

  10. Well Mahesh, coming from this Brit, I would agree that this is indeed a major pain in the arse to have been treated like this. Funnily enough I’m doing a post about Facebook (it was going to be part of my ‘phubbing’ post but got too long so made it into two, the second part posted later this week!) with a different take so I read your post with great interest. I totally agree with you and the advice you gave your friend was spot on. As you know, I moved to the US with just my then little 3 year old son and my now ex-husband and didn’t know a soul, hadn’t even met my new in-laws up that point. I knew that it was up to me to go out there and find new friends, make a new life. Same when I moved back to the UK, even though this is my ‘home’ and I have family and a few friends from before I left, I still had to make it, then as a single mum of three, on my own. So I don’t understand your friend acting the way she did. You are better off without people who are that tetchy and false and invest in your real friends (but you don’t need me to tell you that!!!) As I go through life I realise that real friends are few and far between. Still, I’m sorry you were treated like that, you don’t deserve it :-( I had to unfriend an entire family recently because of the way my son’s ex-girlfriend treated him when they broke up. It saddened me to have to do it but I couldn’t bare to see them on FB any longer and the connection with the ex-girlfriend who really hurt my son. I hated doing it but it was necessary. I feel much better now, hope you do too :-) Ahh..the complexities of modern communication eh? ;-)

    1. Thanks Sherri so much for reading and writing :-) And I so agree that she wasn’t someone she projected herself to be – the fact that there’s this ‘other’ existence on Facebook and other social media. A friend of mine, again on Facebook, deactivated his account twice. He activated it back last week, and he has about 1500 friends. I asked him his reasons for deactivating and activating, and he said he had no reasons. He didn’t want to tell me, but I figured out that the most number of likes or comments he gets for his posts and updates won’t exceed 10. 1500 friends and 10 likes/comments? What’s the use of social media when you can’t get social enough :-) His activating it back perhaps shows he still has a bit of optimism left :-)

      1. 1500 friends? I wonder how many are real friends or that interested? A strange world indeed…Thanks for the great dialogue Mahesh!

  11. Facebook has certainly caused us to examine the definition of “friend” and quite frankly, I would presume that almost everyone holds a specific understanding of what “friend” means to them. Some may consider any acquaintance with whom they have enjoyed positive engagements to be a friend. For others, a friend is a dedicated and special relationship bestowed only upon a select few. In any case, I promote being a friend any time you can. When offering advice, suggestions or simply words of encouragement we dare not be fearful of another’s response as long as our intent is pure. Not everyone understands that and, more’s the pity, many people, who have been inadvertently hurt, do not attempt to clarify or rectify the situation. That is a loss for all of us. Treat others as you want to be treated.

    1. Some beautiful, wise words there. Thanks for writing them :-) My intent was pure when I advised her (and it was solicited). Perhaps she wanted to hear her-own advice-to-herself from someone else, and when that failed to happen she probably felt insulted. But then she insulted herself by removing me. As someone commented above, it’s good that we aren’t friends anymore – we’ve never been friends.

    1. Thanks for writing :-) In a way it’s good that you’re not connected to Facebook at all – you’re living in a ‘real’ world – hopefully I’ll follow suit soon.

  12. I shall write about my own love-hate relationship with FB one day. I agree, I think I have about 30% of non-real friends, 40% of sorta-but-not-really friends, and only 30% of actually know and communicate with friends. The known friends get smaller every year, cuz I have closed my account (which technically FB never really “closes”). So I re-open it again when I need to get in touch with a friend who doesn’t have email, but can only be contacted through their FB page. Interesting story you’ve shared here!

    1. Thanks for reading and writing :-) Appreciate it.

      I like your percentages and you’re spot on. 30% indeed is true – and the question is, how does one approach the rest 70%.

  13. Hi Mahesh,Not only did I read your post but most of the above comments,Fellow bloggers have shared some really interesting insights on social media / Fb and some really wise words. All together a very good discussion.
    I feel Facebook has both negatives and positives to it.I don’t know why she would’ve done that, maybe something personal.I don’t think you offended her and till you know you din’t intend to say anything wrong you don’t have to feel bad.
    Moreover, I feel if she felt bad about something you said, she should’ve confronted you rather than removing ( which is rude,until and unless you have committed a big crime)makes things easier you see and doesn’t create a misunderstanding. Like I say keep things simple and be happy :).

    1. Thanks Maitri for reading everything :-) I’m so glad it involved you. When you say ‘may be something personal’ I wonder if there was something else going on that I was not aware of – some subtext I failed to decode. Now, anything beyond what we know, think and feel may be pure conjecture. I didn’t offend her, intentionally or unintentionally – or did anything that warranted the removal. See at the end of it, it’s not the removal that upsets (I too remove friends), but the ‘why’ that remains unanswered. Take care :-)

      1. It just meant maybe she din’t want you to know something or maybe she just wanted to go into hiding from many people.Sometimes you just want to be left alone and want to hide and she must have removed many people.

  14. Ah… the ups and downs of social media… words get entangled and thoughts as well, and the sad part is that good intentions are often just pushed aside. I am sorry about that.
    I “clean” my FB list often but I have to stay I refuse on average five friend requests a week. My FB is very personal since my family and friends are scattered all over the world, and it is a way for me and them to share my son growing up.
    My little piece of advice (And it is well intentioned!) keep your FB page to a strict minimum (200 at the most) if you don’t want to get hurt. And yet…
    Thanks for sharing. Kenza.

    1. Thanks Kenza for your time :-) Really appreciate your comment. You’re right – good intentions are often just pushed aside. Like you, I’m also very particular about who should and should not be my friends – and I must share that I’ve never exceeded more than 150 friends. But I must revisit the list to see if some trimming is required :-)

  15. I’m sure she would have read this post and message on FB. Prolly she’d have felt ashamed/guilt that might have stopped her from responding. Certain lessons are learned the hard way yet they will give a clear vision to avoid facing similar situations in future. I wouldn’t put the entire blame on social media since we’re in the driving seat. Up to us to have a controlled access. I appreciate your thought of sharing with us. Would be helpful just in case. Don’t give it much of a thought. Now that you have written it off, feel free and happy.

    1. Thanks Manasaa for writing :-) Appreciated! I have no ill-feelings for her, and I still think she is a good person – and as you rightly said, certain lessons are learned the hard way :-)

  16. Loved your post Mahesh. I don’t know how many times people have misunderstood something I have texted, emailed, or FB’ed to them. When you talk face to face you can see by someone’s expression exactly what they mean but when it is in print there is so much room for misinterpretation. Hopefully you will find that it is all a simple misunderstanding.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment :-) You’re absolutely right – there’s so much room for interpretation. FB makes us take it seriously, and when we take it seriously we get into unnecessary trouble :-)

  17. Use twitter for online-friends – it’s the way forward! You can see the way people feel and think…….it’s in real-time and a bit like blogging but with 140 character limit. Less of the superficial photos/images – more of the connecting of the minds.

    Real friends will call, txt or e-mail you even when life gets busy. But of course when it comes to photo-sharing many people decide to use Facebook as it is quicker and feels more “private”. Facebook, twitter and whatsapp is now seen as the norm for this generation to “keep in touch” via social media. Hard to avoid but have to choose one of them.

    Whereas just a decade ago we grew up in the msn or yahoo and MySpace days of keeping in touch which lasted about a decade….

  18. Well intentioned advice online can lose it’s meaning. If you are out of touch with each others emotions, personality, humour, thoughts and life-changes etc.
    The online persona which people have when they type words either freely or controlled and the other reads VS the face-to-face contact when speaking and listening.
    Both have pros and cons.
    You can spend most your life and still not understand or truly know someone you have met face to face, yet with some others by reading their blog or e-mails – you feel as if you have known them all your life. Depends how you connect to people and how you open up to them honestly and truthfully and most freely.
    When you give people advice – you either base it on your own life experiences. Or on the other persons strengths/weaknesses. And so advice can be hard to take even when well-intented.

    1. Oops intended! Lots of spelling and grammar mistakes :-/ but I felt I needed to reply as fb has also caused lots of trouble for me in the past.

      Fallouts and ending of friendships due to well-intended advice. When a friend asks you for advice – you always hope you can tell them honestly especially after all the years of friendship. But if they are going through a tough time in life – most likely they just want you to agree with them even if the reality is tough. So best to just support them in whatever they decide – especially when it comes to life-decisions. Most likely they have already made their decision and they want to be brave enough to make the leap forward with people who have faith in them when they have lost faith in themselves.
      Don’t feel bad – if it was a friendship that was meant to last it would stand the test of time

      1. Thanks a lot for the detailed comment :-) You’re spot-on in your observations and I couldn’t agree more.

        You’re so right when you say ‘…most likely they just want you to agree with them even if the reality is…’ They already know (or they will know ‘themselves’ later) what they want to do, and the formality of approaching someone for advice is perhaps just a way of understanding how isolated they might have become in life, and how critical it is that they made sense of their own realities and decisions – and therefore whatever advice is given to them will not be welcomed. I wonder why anyone seeks anyone’s advice, if they’re too weak to take it. Weakness can waste so much time and energy.

        Thanks once again so much :-)

      2. Ah well advice is also another way of asking for help…..so if someone was to ask for help then that would be regarded as “weak”. When someone asks for advice – they think they will be strong enough to take it and handle it. But not always. And sometimes when people give advice they like to lecture rather than give constructive advice and with in regards to feelings…..a bit like how people may ask for advice from their parents I guess?
        But really they are just testing the waters to see people’s views and opinions on matters. And if it goes against their own choice then they may rather slip away and not tell them otherwise in order to avoid an argument when all it is is difference of opinions. And they may be hurting but they don’t want to say due to pride.

        Everyone would like to think they can handle advice someone else’s advice but when it is coming from someone close, nearest and dearest – their opinions can crush you! Compared to that of a stranger.

        So really I think in your case it was just misunderstandings and mix of emotions during a tough period of time in her life. We can never know for sure tho. The only person is she herself.

        It is a shame she didn’t email you back at least to explain. And that is why you were hurt too.

      3. I completely agree with your views here. It’s tough, isn’t it? But then this is the blunt reality and one must accept it. I thank you for showing a continued interest in this post :-)

      4. That’s ok. I’ve had many a tough time due to fb but everyone keeps using it! And so I don’t know what to do. Also my fb got hacked recently :-/ more headaches!! I hate the damn thing. Causes nothing but trouble! Real friends call/txt/email. But when making new friends they act so strange if you don’t have fb. What is wrong with people these days? We are from the last generation of old ways. So why is it so strange to keep in touch by old methods when it works well?

      5. Everyone’s in a state of hurry – FB is now causing peer pressure – strange world we are living in! Technology has obscured patience and goodness.

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