Cuz Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Posted by mwallach on February 5, 2012 in New Yorkers |

Dear That’s Life,
Last Sunday, the New York Times Styles section had a front page article which captured the interest of many. “It’s Not Me, It’s You” by Alex Williams detailed the various approaches taken by some in their effort to lose friends with whom they no longer wish to be connected. Even one person quoted in the article who enjoys, even cultivates, a vast network of friends, admits that sometimes, “some [friends] must fall by the wayside.” I agree with that, while recognizing that the ending of a close friendship is often very complicated and always very painful. Nevertheless, life happens and sometimes, forests are left to burn instead of instructing emergency personnel to working tirelessly in effort to extinguish the flames. And while I, too, have been on the giving and receiving end of such a situation, I never expected I would lose friends to Steve Jobs, especially since he’s dead.

Almost like a movement, some friends have made conscious decisions to abandon their Blackberries and switch to Iphones. Now that I finally have a Blackberry (one that works, that is), it appears my Blackberry comrades in arms are all jumping ship. After I lost three friends in one day, I began to take this personally. “It’s not you – it’s me,” I heard them say sarcastically. No more bbming (Blackberry Instant Messaging), no more chat groups, no more part of the club. I was phone dumped. Apple has managed to produce technology which we do not need, but now cannot live without. Who knows if they’ll miss me and the apparently inferior and unreliable technology they so carelessly left behind. One by one, the grass seems to be greener on the other side and my friends are easily leaving their Berries in pursuit of another fruit, one that has historically represented life’s greatest temptations: the apple. I hope they’re happy.

The article continues to describe how people are using Facebook to rid themselves of deadweight friendships. While the goal of the site is to actually help find, build and maintain relationships, it seems to have this additional use as well. As a person who only turned to Facebook about a year ago, I was given a quick tutorial in some FB etiquette. Included in those lessons was the art of accepting friend requests. While one may choose not to accept every request, no request should actually be rejected. Instead, the softer response is simply to ignore rather than blatantly reject the initial invite. I am not sure what the person whose request has been ignored for months thinks is going on. As one who has certainly sent out her share of invites that have been ignored, however, I have not lost any sleep over any of them.

“Unfriending” someone is a clear message that you no longer wish to be connected. That is a true slap in the face – no way to sugarcoat such a move because the person is informed that he or she has been unfriended. For those not familiar with the lingo, “unfriending” is when you decide to terminate an already existing relationship. For all intents and purposes, you are breaking up with them. It’s divorce, Facebook style, and according to the article it is being employed by some to rid themselves of those they no longer want as friends. In this neighborhood, one has to be very careful who is unfriended. There are small towns – and then there’s The Five Towns. There are only two degrees of separation around here, so you must be wary of who you irritate. As a rule of thumb: if you need to think twice before yelling at the guy who stole your parking spot because you may just find yourself on line behind him in the supermarket ten minutes later, how much more careful must one be before unfriending someone on Facebook.

I found myself in that exact quandary a number of months ago. It was not that I needed to get rid of a friend because there was a falling out or a disagreement of sorts. In fact, this person was more of an acquaintance than anything else – just someone I knew from the area. The reason this needed to end was simply because her posts were incessant, juvenile and annoying. When I first started on Facebook, I went through the same stage as most new pledges where we compulsively and obsessively update our goings on in life. Until its newness and novelty wear off, you find yourself posting more information than one should choose to share. It happens to everyone – and it happened to me. Friends would tell me to, “Step away from the laptop and put [my] hands on [my] head.” The problem with the person I needed to unfriend was that she was not new to FB and was not going through a stage. This is her modus operandi. I am certain many people enjoy her constant posting and encourage her to keep up the good work. More power to them, but this was not for me. To coin a Seinfeldism which would have made for a great episode had the site existed when Jerry and Kramer were still neighbors, she would have been an “over-poster,” and I needed to get rid of her.

Complaining about the situation to a real-life friend of mine, he simply borrowed my laptop for a minute, promising to change my life forever. Without having to unfriend this person, he ended her never ending rants by cutting her newsfeed to my page. If I wanted to know what was going on in her life, he explained, I could simply check her wall, as we were still technically friends. However, I no longer had to endure the constant commentary, nor those of another individual who seems to think he is Confucius. Since making these changes, Facebook has never been sweeter.

Isn’t it ironic that I found someone else’s constant ranting annoying? I guess for those who no longer wish to hear my musings, they can just stop reading this column. Or, they can do what some of my friends have already figured out: buy an iphone. Even from beyond, Steve Jobs is smarter than I am.
MLW
As Seen in the South Shore Standard Feb 2012

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