Facebook (FB). It can be as frustrating as it is freeing. I both love it and hate it. Love it because it is a great way to keep in touch with my mates, as we are spread out all over the world. Photo-sharing, quick notes and a bit of fun. Plus for networking purposes, at times it is much easier to tell someone to look you up on FB than exchanging numbers. Hate it because of the access and information it provides if you are not careful and every now and then people I don't want anything to do with somehow pop up.
The problem is, these days because of the accessibility FB has created, people from all areas of your life, both past and present, no matter how insignificant, almost feel as though they have a right to be a part of your life, and feel insulted when you do not let them in (granted not all people feel this way, but some do). It is also scary when situations present people you think had absolutely no access to your life.
I remember the first FB wake up call i had was a few years back when I started dating a Kiwi, who was living in New Zealand at the time. I changed the relationship status on FB to "in a relationship" (that stamps 'official' all over it right?) and went off to bed. Awoke the next morning to find an angry and hurt message in my inbox from the man who I had met once and flirted with over an evening of drinks. He could not believe I was in a relationship and hadn't had the audacity to tell him. I had not yet fully understood the inner workings of FB and how to control what gets published and what doesn't and so of course my happy status change went out to my FB world and my friends found out my happy status in a matter of minutes rather than a few days which is how long it would take such information to spread pre-FB.
Although that relationship did not last, we remained friends. When I did start dating my fiance, the Kiwi was one of the first people I told (actually via a phone call) and when the Kiwi chose to no longer have me as a friend on FB, I respected that and didn't go chasing him for explanations.
Which brings me to my next point. I think if someone deletes you on FB, you do have to respect that. A friend of mine briefly dated a girl who, upon finishing with, he deleted her as a friend on FB because they really had nothing in common, including friends. For a while, she sent messages and friend requests on a monthly basis. It all got a bit freaky when my friend, who thought his profile was set to private, got a message from her stating she had been reading his page and was congratulating him on his new relationship. The thing is, my friend says he never once wrote back to her or accepted her new friend requests. Yet she just kept trying. I also have an ex who keeps trying and sending the friend request. He finally sent me an email asking me why we weren't friends and I answered him honestly and has not contacted me since. Some people even think just because you slept with them, that is an automatic pass into your world. Yet you can't demand to be a part of a person's life.
Just recently, someone my fiance dated for 5 minutes over 18 months ago - and someone who he thought had no access to his profile whatsoever - decided to get in touch with me via FB because of a comment she did not like on a photo. Who even knew she still had access via a photo? She seemed to think that somehow she was a feature in it all. Crazy - it really set alarm bells off for both of us that she was still out there with access to us and information, that was not for her, after all this time, and that she could possibly think it was for her. It was a real eye opener for us in terms of settings and privacy of social networking sites, knowing that these kinds of sites can reset your settings without you knowing it (something I think FB is under scrutiny for now). In a situation like that, all we could do was laugh, and put some blocks in place.
More problems can arise when someone is upset. Many people use their FB statuses to send extremely pointed messages at people. I know of a few people who carry on in this way and if anything, it only, serves to make them look insecure and angry. A friend has also experienced an ex defaming him on FB, which only stopped well after he had blocked her and mutual friends pointed out to her it is in fact very illegal to do that.
The sentimentality that FB often creates can lead to other issues too. I have had a man I dated years ago get in contact leaving me to think "Oh enough time has passed, they seem to be acting decently" only for him to then unload a barrage of anger and resentment - even though this was nearly a decade later. Clearly things meant more to him than they did to me....and clearly time does not heal ALL wounds.
If anything, FB is a very unique social exercise that reveals many things about the modern human psyche and about how communication is moving forward. The thing is, can the average human being handle it with dignity?
Labels: Australia, Friends n Foes, Randoms, Thoughts of Sorts