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…