Friday, March 26, 2010

Correct protocol when you're "defriended"?

With the incorporation of social media into our lives, the concept of "friend" does not seem to be what it used to be. Is it my imagination, or has the term "friend" become a synonym for "I had a 5 minute conversation with you"? People add others to their Friend list minutes after they meet them. A comment I read (wish I recalled where I saw it), compared this phenomenon to collecting nice pictures that you show off in a photo album.

It shouldn't surprise me that people are removed from these so-called Friend lists as easily as they're added. After all, it's just names, right?

And yet, there's an odd sense of rejection when you're the one who's "defriended." Maybe because it's a silent yet deliberate act. Instead of letting the person know that there's an issue or a disagreement, you can just erase them from your world. Happened to me recently. Granted, we had drifted apart, our paths rarely crossing -- as time went by, we had less and less in common. And yet, I hadn't expected to be tossed out. And left wondering what triggered the event as our latest interactions had been civil.

So, it's curious. And a bit sad. My first reaction was to contact the person and ask what had led to the decision to not consider me a friend or at least an acquaintance. But then, if the person wants no contact with me, should I not respect that and let it be? Is the removal of my name an indication of indifference? Anger? Dislike? If I run into this person (because we know some of the same people), what do I do? Pretend I don't know that I'm not on the exclusive "Friend" list? Say something? If this person's name comes up in conversation with others, do I say something - let them know that this person has removed me from their life? Or is it best to keep quiet, since the other people are still on the Friend list and there's no need for them to be put in the middle?

And, let's say this person invited you to an event prior to your removal from the list. Am I now uninvited? Should I change my RSVP to "not attending" since I'm obviously not a "friend" anymore? That seems so...well...vaguely vindictive. And silly, because obviously, it won't matter to the other person anyway (remember, they've removed me from their list of people they are about).

It used to be, people would drift out of your life silently but there would be a sense that at any time, there was the possibility of reconnecting. Or, you would have an argument or end-of-relationship conversation. Now, people simply "defriend" you act that seems colder and harsher, simply because it's done in stealth.

Food for thought...

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