I was still feeling a little gutted from an earlier exchange when I sat down at my computer. I found the page and slowly began to scroll down her facebook timeline. I hadn't gone too far before I saw my name giving her an endorsement. A big blue thumbs up. Then I saw it again. And again. And there were comments too. Yes, my name was there. Many times. On her photographs, pictures, jokes, quotes and status updates.Why wouldn't it be there? She was my friend. And I liked her.
I didn't need to check my own page to know that I wouldn't see her name. Not once. Ever.
3 hours earlier
I rushed into Chapters to buy a couple of paperbacks for my children to read on vacation. But as always I got a little distracted in the poetry section. So I promised myself I could spend a few minutes browsing once I'd got the children their reading material first.
After about 15 minutes I'd found their books so I headed back to poetry. It was then that I saw my friend. She looked up from the bookshelf when I said "Hi."
I asked her a few polite questions. How was Christmas? How was her winter getaway? How did her daughter do with the high school midterms? She quickly filled me in with all the details and I waited for my turn. But she didn't ask.
So I changed the subject and asked her about the book she'd just selected. "Oh, what are you reading? I didn't know you liked poetry? I write a little bit of poetry myself you know? I even have a blog..."
I'm not sure what I expected her to say, but she looked down and started flicking through the pages of the book as though she hadn't even heard me. After a few moments she offered "I know Elaine, I've seen your blog, but I'm sorry, I can't say I'm one of your 'fans'!"
"My fans?" I mouthed weakly.
"Yes, you know those people on facebook who seem to like everything you say and do. I'm quite sure we could all find something funny to say about our kids, but we don't!"
I bit the inside of my lip. Partly because I think it was trembling and partly because I needed to control my response.
"And your poetry is cute but I find it a little too 'sing-songy' for me. I much prefer the more classical type of poetry." She closed the book. "Well, I think I found what I'm looking for. I'll see you around.."
And then she was gone.
She may or may not have said goodbye. I'm not entirely sure. I was too busy picking up the pages of self esteem that she'd just ripped out of me that were now scattered all over the floor in Chapters.
I have never professed to be a poet or a writer. But I find I do like to write and sometimes my thoughts come in the form of a rhyme. It's just a hobby. Much like stamp collecting or racing pigeons. I wonder if she'd of been so unkind if all I did was post pictures of handmade quilts or model trains?
I made my purchases and left.
And I don't believe I have fans. Only friends (why couldn't I have said that then!!!)
3 years earlier
We met through some mutual friends and I liked her. Although we didn't know each other she sent me a facebook friend request anyway. I happily accepted.
I remember looking at her profile and seeing a very attractive woman with a good looking husband. Her children were good looking too. They were around the same age as my own. I remember "liking" things about her immediately. I mean what's not to like?
But this was back in the days before I knew the truth about facebook friendships. Back when I was trying to grow my friendlist and thought having 100's friends was important. Back when it didn't matter if they hardly knew me or even liked me? I just wanted to have lots and lots of friends.
Sad, but true.
I held my mouse over the "Friends" button and waited for the dropdown menu to appear. I hovered over the "Unfriend" button for long time and yet somehow I couldn't bring myself to click it. Doing that would mean breaking my #1 Facebook Rule: Never unfriend someone if there is even a remote possibility that you'll bump into them in the real world. Because, well, that would be awkward.
My fingers froze, I couldn't click the button. So I logged off and went to pick up my son from school for a Dr's appointment.
In the waiting room I couldn't stop thinking about our friendship. How one-sided it had been and how I'd failed to see that. What caused that? What did I do to create such animosity? When did we stop being friends? And a more important question - when exactly when did we become enemies?
But aren't you a Christian? I hear you say. Doesn't the Bible say "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5 v 44) Yes.Yes it does. And I believe it too. But I interpret that verse to mean do not wish anything bad or evil on that person. Do not think hateful things about them. Bear no ill feelings toward them and certainly do not rejoice in their sufferings. I do not interpret the verse to mean we have to remain friends on facebook - locked into some kind of permanent online contract and shackled by an invisible virtual chain. God forbid!
Suddenly I regretted my decision. She made it obvious that not only did she not like me but she also didn't like me. How I wished I had a smart phone and could access my facebook account right now. Scripture both noted and heeded. #1 facebook rule be damned. It was time to say to her what she failed to say to me in Chapers. Goodbye!
I arrived back home and logged on to my facebook account. I looked for her name on my friendlist. It was gone. When I searched for her through a mutual friend I found her profile and noticed that I now had the option to add her as a friend. She unfriended me. Wow. So I guess we did have something in common after all. Mutual friends and mutual feelings.
Well that hurt. I'm not sure if I'm more upset that we're not friends or because she unfriended me first. Probably the latter. But it hardly matters now.
I've spent the better part of the afternoon pondering friendship. But more specifically facebook friendship. I've always been uncomfortable with the term "friends." I think it cheapens the true definition of what a friend is. I would much prefer the list to be called "People I Know" And I'm sure some of the people on that list would be my friends.
People need people. We naturally gravitate toward some and are repelled by others. We need to reach out to, and connect with people and form relationships with them. But we should never confuse that relationship with friendship. And you can never truly know a person when the only sides they present are the best facets of their personality and the best photographs from their vacation.
I choose friends who will add a measure of value and quality to my life. I try to surround myself with people who will affirm, admonish, encourage, support, challenge, inspire, motivate, bless and hopefully on some level like me. And I want to be that person in return. I'm not saying that everyone should be interested in and like every single thing about me. And I certainly wouldn't expect my friends to like everything I do on facebook. I know I don't like everything that they do. I can't -facebook would have to become my full time job in order for me to be even moderately successful at that. But when I see something that I enjoy I will always try to give my friends a big blue thumbs up.
I am trying to shrink my friendlist now - choosing quality over quantity. So, if you are reading this today and it resonates with you, if seeing my name in your newsfeed is an irritant and an annoyance to you, if you share little or no common ground with me, if you can't celebrate any of my small victories or baby steps toward success, if you can't be happy when something good happens to me, if you don't like when I make a mild attempt at humour, if you think I'm dull and uninteresting or if you just can't play nice - then perhaps you should follow the lead of my former friend and unfriend me. It may suprise me. It may even hurt me. But I'm sure I'll recover. I do have a few good friends.
But if you do go ahead and unfriend me, then let's hope we never bump into one another in Chapters. Because, well, that would be awkward!
Here is a more fun post about facebook. It's a poem (sorry poetry is what I do!)
You can read it here
You can read it here