True friendships come but once in a lifetime. Being in one involves a partnership of active attendance because you’re consciously responsible for your part rather than simply viewing events like an eyes-glazed spectator would a spit-roast or a game of chess.
All of this has been turned on its head by the activity of Facebook-friending that NBF you made over your 01h37 Jaeger Bomb, or the polka-dot-adorned charmer at Felicity’s wonderful Tupperware and tea party last Sunday. Now, you newfound kindred spirits with enthusiastic and bold declarations of where, when, why and how you’ll keep in touch so as to take this new bond from menial to meaningful, have solidified your commitments via one ‘request’ and its counterpart ‘accept’.
So you’re Facebook forevers. But then it posts its Farmville score 14 times a night and invites you to join Birthdays1 once a week; tells all and sundry that her boyfriend farted all night and that despite the asphyxiation, not only did she not die, sadly, but she couldn’t sleep. Or… that on their very first visit to Cape Town, this gas-riddled but loving couple enjoyed a lovely romantic dinner … at the Spur.
So between the vapid and the vulgar, you realise your NBF is more BS than BF, and – rather than just hiding all their updates (simply because you can’t stomach another reductive sentence in your news feed) – you, in a moment of temporary albeit extremely satisfying insanity, commit digital manslaughter: You unfriend.
Although there are no fingerprints or weapons of mass destruction, there will be a bruised ego and a downturned mouth, once, in weeks or minutes from the time of the crime, Felicity realises she’s down to one like rather than two per update and your original generosity and good-manners of liking everything she said and did will be the very alibi that shines the light upon your so-called crime.
What’s good for the Goose
Sure, it swings both ways. I’ve been deleted by people. Many people. And, after a considered period2 of mourning, I have to admit to the common denominator: my oft brutal honesty across a range of life-changing and problem-solving topics.
I post things that suggest Kim Kardashian be tap danced upon by a troop of golf-shoe-wearing dancers simply because the daffodil who is as important to society as pubic hair, is worth $10million. I post things that suggest that one very fat-cat Julius Malema should take a long walk off a short pier but to kindly forgo wearing his red beret when he does as we don’t necessarily want to know the geography of his devastating disappearance. I post things that call out Catholicism and the previous, very tired Pope who had to retire, for their double-standards when representing a God-fearing contingent for and on behalf of a supposedly all-loving God. I call out homophobes, misogynists and general small-minded stupids who share things like news about an ‘unknown creature’ washing up on an ‘unknown beach’. If you willingly drink that much unknown kool aid from an unknown kool aid dispenser, you too should be unknown.
It’s not sacrilege. It’s not personal. Because those who I’ve lost can’t spell ‘sacrilege’ and the ones I’ve deleted probably play only an understudy’s part in my personal evolution anyway.
Yeah, this digital stopgap offers a whole new landscape of connections. Still, it’s just a webpage. There are no hugs that last long enough to build a lump in your throat. There are no deep and meaningful conversations that end in the kinds of tears or giggles that outline and define a connection you feel blessed to be a part of… and there are no comforting hand-squeezes of support before you go to an interview or tell your crush how crushed you really are.
So you may be the casual Facebooker with the odd upload of your Sunday race or what you crocheted at divorcee club on Saturday, or you may be the one who shares things that both upset and inspire you to the core… Here’s the thing: there are no rules. Just preferences. And like TV, if you don’t like what you’re watching you can simply change the channel.
Considering the ratio of people we talk to on an ongoing basis versus the number of ‘friends’ we have – there should be no hard feelings. Unless of course you can get a message to the retired Pope, Kim Jong Un Kardashian or the big J – Malema. Then I’d prefer you stick around for act 2.
1 Why the fuckidy-fuck-fuck does Facebook even have this App? You can see whenever someone is celebrating the day of their birth, anyway. The site infiltrates your daily calendar across a number of devices and even doubles up by notifying you in the sidebar of daily events. Then there is the very obvious notification that seven-dozen other people have written on Felicity’s wall for her birthday and you should too. So, in the interest of avoiding the trivial, please sod off with your Birthday App Facebook. No, no… that wasn’t a question.
2 This comprises a time period of anything between 2 minutes and 120 seconds.
© Dylan Balkind