Posts Tagged 'friends'

Can I Walk Away From It?

I have 419 “friends” on Facebook. Four hundred nineteen. I am baffled as I typed that number. Last year, before “The Great Purge,” which is what I called what I did this same time last year when I deleted “hundreds of people” from my Friends list– most of whom were people I “friended” due to that godforsaken Facebook game called “Mafia Wars”– I had over 600. Six hundred!

Like many users of that popular social network, my “Friends” actually include family members, real-life friends, online “friends,” former/current work colleagues, former schoolmates, social acquaintances (i.e. people with whom I get drunk), friends of friends, friends of friends of friends. The list goes on. But, also akin to the conditions that afflict most users, I truly interact with maybe only a couple of dozen of them on a regular basis.

Such is life, you say? Of course. Then, why the hell should I have over four hundred of them saddling my account? It seems an unnecessary abundance– hundreds of people to whom I have nothing to say and vice versa. Hence, why keep them?

“You brought that on to yourself,” a good friend recently told me. Pointedly, I might add. He’s right, of course.

I thought about doing another “great purge,” and just systematically deleting people from my account, but then I thought that would seem heartless and insensitive. After all, most of these people sought me out, and I allowed the association. Simply deleting them would be the most blatant thing I could do. However, since 90% of them choose to not interact with me either, what would be the big deal? And, if they truly want to be my friend (sans quotation marks), they’ll seek me out again, right? Unless, of course, the act of deletion would make them blackball me from their “friends” lists. Am I making a quandary out of nothing?

I could make myself feel better by convincing myself that I would actually be doing those people a favor by purging them from my list, sparing them from having to see posts/updates from someone with whom they consciously choose to not interact regularly anyway. But, knowing myself, I would allow some version of guilt to overwhelm me, and I would wonder (for a long while) how many people’s feelings I may have hurt. It wouldn’t matter if those feelings weren’t hurt at all; I would still let it bother me.

Then, I thought a more brilliant idea would be create a new Facebook profile (which I already did) bearing a different, yet still somewhat related, user name. I would then strategically “friend” only the family members and friends with whom I truly want to interact frequently and genuinely. It would allow me to manage my “friends” list to a more reasonable number. Two digits, undoubtedly, and maybe even under 50. It would be very exclusive– borderline elitist– and I would summarily dismiss any “friend requests” from casual acquaintances. In other words, I would somewhat disappear from the masses.

The most radical thought I have is to just stop using Facebook altogether. After all, I’ll still have my Twitter account; not having a Facebook account would make it so that I’m checking one less thing for updates. And, if I truly needed an online venue to interact, I could explore Google+, which seems to be a promising platform for me to start over, so to speak.

In other words, I could simply delete my current account without any notice. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. It seems the most fair way to go about whittling my social (network) responsibility.

But, can I really do that? Can I truly walk away from that which I’ve built into a thriving element of my social life, however pathetic that may sound?

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Friends Anonymous?

The other night, I was hanging out with a bunch of people I’d met several months ago through a social networking site (Yelp) and a friend of mine I’d known for nearly 20 years stopped by.  He commented: “You have way too many groups of friends who don’t know each other.”

I thought about what he said.  It was true, of course, but I don’t think it’s unusual.  In town, I have four distinct groups of people with whom I spend time separately from the other groups:

One group is comprised of friends whom I’ve known for nearly 20 years, and were very present during my socially formative years.  These are folks who’ve helped me through through some big struggles in life.  They are first to congratulate and first to offer constructive criticism. They are the truest friends one can ever have the privilege of having.  Some of them have moved to other parts of the country, but we still keep in close touch.

Another group is comprised of former co-workers with whom I still keep in close contact and socialize periodically.

A third group is comprised of current co-workers, some of whom I hang out with outside of work.

A fourth group includes a fun group of people from Yelp.

And then, there’s Facebook, where yet another friend exclaimed recently: “How can you have 348 friends?!”  And let’s not even talk about my blog friends.

We are a social animal, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this scenario.  Where it can get dicey is if we end up not investing in the friendships that we’re fortunate enough to possess.   Many of my former close acquaintances fall into this category, and I’m saddened by it.  But not all friendships are meant to last, after all.

In the end, on that other night, I was able to convince my friend of 20 years to meet the Yelp gang, and he was thankful.  He enjoyed his time with them (as I’d predicted).

Count that as a step toward bridging the gap among my groups of friends.