When the Circle Becomes a Dot

When Facebook first became a ‘thing’, most of us quickly reached out to connect ourselves to everyone we knew, from family to school friends to co-workers, past and present, etc. It became bragging rights, almost, to see the number of people you’re connected to be at a large number.

When I first signed up on Facebook, I was eager to connect to people as well, especially those from my past – school mates and past work colleagues. I even gained some new “friends” when a farm game I was playing on Facebook was much more successful when you had these ‘friends’ working your farm as well!

And after less than 3 months, the game began to bore me – you perform the same tasks over and over again to increase your points to buy things to put on your farm. It just didn’t have the luster it held for me when it (and I) was new to me.

I still open Facebook every day and scroll through my news feed. When someone I know makes a post and I see it, it does feel like a connection – a way of knowing what’s going on in the lives of people I know.

For at least the past 6 months – and possibly longer – what I’m posting on Facebook these days are usually memes, photos and new stories of interest that I see on my news feed and “share” so the people I know can see/read it too. I very seldom post anything original – told in my own words – mostly because I got tired of the drama that happened when someone didn’t agree with what I had written and started becoming a bully about it. I posted a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama as they prepared to board the steps of a plane upon leaving the White House (I didn’t say it for political reasons, I said it because I thought that they were a class act). I wrote something about being sorry to see them leave. A friend – someone I actually knew in real life – made a sarcastic response to my post and another friend – also someone I knew in real life – made a sarcastic response to the first response and then several people got involved and I’m told it got pretty nasty (I was at work and not on Facebook at the time). The first person’s response was deleted, as well as any other comments made by this person during the tirade. I ended up getting unfriended by the initial commentor, even though I had done nothing wrong.

Some of the other commentors told me bits and pieces of what was exchanged, and knowing the other ‘players’ as well, I wasn’t quick to jump believing them when they insisted all of the nasty stuff came from the other person and they had no fault at all in the encounter. I was upset, angry and felt betrayed by someone I’d called a “good friend” until this happened.

Shortly after that, I took the time to look down through the list of people whom I had labeled “friend” and some names came off. Most of the deletions were made because I hadn’t had contact with that person for a long while. As a result, my circle grew a little smaller.

I’ve been retired now for 5-1/2 years. I took a look at the people who were still on my friends list and recognized how many of them were related to my days at a career. I’ve also looked at how many of them seldom put a post on Facebook unless it’s a picture of someone or of some event. For a large group of people I know, it seems like we’ve had our time being Facebook addicts and now simply use it to check in on our friends.

Remember the saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? Sadly, I have two people who are still on my friends list (and who haven’t unfriended me since I still see their posts) whom I would truly like to delete. I’ve hesitated only because unfriending them means it would be wise to unfriend some of the people I know in their circle or are loyal to them, and once I do unfriend the initial two, I’d prefer not to have anything I post in the future to get back to them in any way.

Nonetheless, I did delete a few more names in the meantime. And the circle grew smaller still.

Then, a few months ago, I saw a post of an obituary of someone I have known for a long, long time. He was a neighbor, a classmate and a bandmate during my formative high school years. He and I had a special routine between us that he’d start – and I’d finish – now and again. It was something silly, but with my low self-esteem, it always made me feel like he was doing it just to let me know that I was an okay person in his book. If you read my post about a future school reunion, he was #1 on the list of the 12 people I would love to look up again which made me consider attending the next reunion.

While he was not on Facebook, his passing made me really think about how small my circle of friends is getting.

I rather wish that Facebook would add a category or two indicating how you know the person with whom you wish to connect. “Acquaintance” would be a great one to add, and I can easily guesstimate how many of the people on my list would get moved there. “Colleague” might be another pretty great one and can encompass past and present. And hey, Facebook, while you are at it making changes, how about making a category called “Enemies”????

So, while the circle continues to grow smaller and smaller, I have become much more aware of the people who I do call “friend” with humble honor. I mean, it’s better to have a few good friends than a thousand fake ones, right?

Oh yea, by the way… the person who unfriended me after that drama was all over my Facebook contacted me by private message about 8 months ago to ask if we could talk. As tough as it was on my heart, I had to respond by saying that I’m not willing to open myself up to having that kind of person in my life for my own well-being. It still hurts my heart that we can’t be friends, but I’m proud of myself for putting myself first for a change! And, if I’m totally honest, to ask if “we could talk” without opening with an apology for what happened alerted me to the fact that this person hasn’t changed in the last few years, a reason why it was easier to turn down resuming a friendship.

And that’s all I’m gonna say ’bout that…

15 thoughts on “When the Circle Becomes a Dot

  1. Ahhh….the “culling” process. I know it well. I’ve experienced many of the exact same situations. I de-friend selectively….and then once a year I might just do a bunch at a time just because we never interact. A couple times I’ve had people ask me to friend them back (one of them an extended family member who continuously posted some crass political posts) and I’ve allowed it. Other times, no. Only once have I ran into someone I defriended who seemed to take it personally. It’s funny how our social-media lives have an arc to them. I’m a much different “poster” than I was in 2009. Now, I find the more family and/or co-workers I allow on my feed the better behaved I am,😂 though I’m not at liberty to express myself as thoroughly and brazenly as I do here due to the fact I haven’t actually met anybody from WordPress IRL and we don’t interact daily. I cherish the relative anonymity (although anybody who bothered could easily look-up my blog). So, I find, different platforms allow different personas to emerge. FB for friends and family. Twitter for world news and the occasional political rant. WordPress for more intimate thoughts/experiences. Instagram for photography (it’s original intent, I might add. It’s basically useless for anything else. IMO). So Cull-away! And if you feel you need to add more trusted friends for balance, send me request.😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You hit the nail on the head in a single stroke! Facebook is a place where my language is always G or occasionally PG rated – by intent. To be honest, it’s not that bad here, but I give myself permission on my blog to pretty much say what I want to say in the way I want to say it. I’m pretty sure some of the people I communicate with on Facebook would not enjoy my rants and raves here, nor stories in more intimate detail that don’t always end with a happy ending. Although I know a few of my blog subscribers personally, they are people who know me well enough to love me no matter what I do or say, and everyone else is a stranger. I was on Twitter for a bit but didn’t much care for it, and I think I’m signed up on Instagram but I haven’t used it in years! I’m actively limited my time on the computer because I used to spend 6 hours minimum per day. Most days now I’m under 2 hours, occasionally 3 if I’m working on a future post and the ideas are flowing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On Facebook, you get prompts to wish “friends” you don’t even know Happy Birthday. I accidentally stumbled on my brother Jamie’s site two years after he died and so many “followers” were still wishing him Happy Birthday. Obviously anyone who actually knew him also knew he died.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t list my birthday on Facebook anymore. I don’t want wishes from people just because Facebook reminded them that it was my birthday. I know/have on my calendar the birthdays of the people I care about as my prompt. I also stopped sending greetings because of the prompt, because I realized I wouldn’t have sent them greetings if FB hadn’t told me. That must be horrible to see those wishes come up for your deceased brother! I “unfriended” my deceased brother after 4 years since he passed, so I don’t know if he still gets wishes or not!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I originally opened a Facebook account, I was so paranoid that I used a false year and day for my birthday. So when Facebook takes over the world, my genealogic data may contain errors like the ones typos used to perpetuate in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not to be argumentative, but why?

    Why would I tolerate anyone’s bad behavior simply because they’re ‘related’? If someone’s not a good influence on you, you should feel no obligation to maintain contact with that person, regardless their connection to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh, Matt – this “sarcastic” response was posted by my very beloved brother. He and I are currently in the midst of a lawsuit we initiated against an extended family member and this kind of banter is how both of us let off steam about it with the other. Brad is not only my brother, but he is the only person I trust completely with my life! Sorry this got you agitated!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, I see.
    I wasn’t agitated about the response; I was genuinely curious about why someone would feel that way. Given this brief update, it makes sense… A problem with sarcasm in text is the complete lack of inflection.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was being a bit sarcastic with my sister, but I agree with the majority of what you have said. I do not encourage anyone to remain involved with someone who is a negative in their lives, family or not. But do not confuse behavior with spirit.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ah, yes… Thanks for the clarification.

    My wife’s family is the sort of family that makes me super-extra grateful for my family; and they aren’t being sarcastic when they express such sentiments.

    Liked by 2 people

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