The strange world of Facebook …

Facebook is even stranger than real life, which is saying a mouthful.  I’ve been rattling around its environs for years now and I think I’ve seen Just.About.Everything.  I realize I’m being silly in even claiming such a thing, however, as there’s always something even more mind-blowing around the next corner.  People never fail to amaze.  Most anyone who spends any appreciable amount of time on social media knows it’s a distillation of daily life in the world … every mindset is represented, every problem magnified, every personality laid painfully bare.

Let’s talk about “friending” … an intriguing concept in every way.  It’s hard for me to let people into my life, and yet I’ve met fabulous individuals from around the globe whom I would never have had the opportunity to know otherwise and we carry on funny, fascinating, engaging conversations nearly every day.  I also have a raft of family members on my friends list, most of whom rarely talk to me … but I don’t take it personally.  We’re family, after all, and one sticks with family … at least in ours.  And we share an industrial-strength genetic makeup … we tend to be quiet and introspective until someone hits the right button, and then just try to shut us up.  I’ve received a lot of friend requests from people I used to know in a passing sort of way.  Sometimes those work out and we strike up a comfortable relationship that’s better than anything we could have claimed in the past.  Sometimes I authorize the request and never hear boo — not a hello, a comment in a conversation thread, a simple “like.”  In those instances, I usually assume the whole thing was motivated by curiosity (have I gotten fat or fallen on hard times??), give it a few weeks, hit the delete button, and move on.

The first time I was unfriended, it was like a kick to the gut … it happened to be someone I thought was a close friend, someone who’d been by my side during life-altering events.  I considered myself safe, accepted … in other words, in my mind it was a true friendship.  Not so … my political and spiritual convictions, only mildly hinted at during those innocent early days, rendered me unfit for that particular relationship.  Revelation having dawned, I tucked it under my belt and marched on.  I’ve since been unfriended by a handful of other people for the views I hold, and the only thing that would make that an untenable situation is if I changed my thinking in order to keep people happy.

Interestingly, Facebook has succeeded in teaching me far more about friendship than I was able to learn in the rest of my life to this point.  I’ve met lovely people to whom I feel very bonded … some of the truest friendships I’ve ever known.  Thus, in some ways I’ve grown softer toward people … more accepting of personalities and the endlessly varied ways in which they express themselves.  Inevitably, however, I’ve developed a thicker crust about some things.  I do not tolerate prejudice, particularly the kind based on skin color or a person’s station in life, and I do not willingly subject myself to incivility.  I’m all about keeping it real these days.  If you pass me in the grocery store without a glimmer of recognition, I have to assume we aren’t actually friends.  If you take me to task for the things I believe in and try to shame me into adopting a different mindset, I’m quite sure we aren’t friends, as no quality relationship operates that way.  If you requested to join my friends list and we’ve never had a conversation or any sort of interaction, you’re probably not there anymore … or won’t be tomorrow.  What’s the point?

Stay tuned … Facebook isn’t finished with me yet, nor I with it.

Talk to me, I'm soooo lonely ...

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