Sunday, April 06, 2014

When Facebook Friendships Go Bad

I gave up Facebook for Lent.

It's been really hard, mainly because I discovered I use it to kill time way more than I thought. In line at the grocery store or Starbucks. Waiting for meetings to start. Walking across campus. That sort of thing. I've been forced to stay more caught up on email, pay attention to my surroundings, and watch where I'm going. None of this has been a bad thing, and after Lent I'll be much more conscious of just how much time I spend there. Plus, I'm now spending more time here, and this is making me much happier than Facebook ever did. (Sorry Facebook, I'm going back to my original love: Blogger.)

Right before Lent started, I realized that there is a Facebook friend that I don't like. At all. Not even one teensy tiny bit. Ironic, right? She isn't a real friend, but a cyber friend. Her friends run in the same circles as my friends (my photography circle, that is). I think she went to one of the Shutter Sisters events and I met her in passing. Obviously she wasn't someone who stuck out in my mind, but I do remember there being a lot of buzz about how she was someone to know. So in one of those moments where Facebook plays matchmaker and says, "Hey, you and this person have 5,462 friends in should be friends!" we became Facebook friends. I honestly have no idea if I friended her or if she friended me. It's enough to say the friending happened and, hindsight being what it is, it shouldn't have.

I don't blame Facebook, really. All the algorithms stack up to say we should be buddies. We both photograph and write. We're both mothers. We have the same name, for Pete's sake (although she uses way too many letters to spell hers). We have the same friends. We both hate Wal-Mart. This should be enough to at least have a mutual like-fest going on.

Over the time we've been friends - maybe a couple years? - I have watched this woman cast so much judgment while talking about how awesome she is that I just want to vomit. There have been days that I wish there was a "shut the fuck up already" button on Facebook. And yet, I stayed silent. Maybe it's because I've watched her bully so many others that I don't want to put myself in that situation (thank you high school baggage). Maybe it's because we have so many mutual friends that I feel like we should be friends, even if it's just for their sake. Maybe my own insecurities are rearing their ugly heads and saying, "She's right, you know, and you don't know shit."

But then, right before Lent, I decided that no, I do know shit (some shit, anyway) and I know when a person is not someone I want to be around, even if "around" means in the Internets. Then Lent started and she fell off my radar, as Facebook wasn't available to stick her mush right in my face over and over again.

Well, today is Sunday, so I thought I'd treat myself to a little Facebook update. See what the family is doing. Catch up on the baby pictures and see who's running where (I seem to have a bunch of very fit friends doing marathons and half marathons and Tough Mudders and all sorts of things that I'm perfectly happy to watch from afar. Fuckers.) and see who is on vacation and who is still struggling with this hella winter.

And there she was. Right there, in my feed, being judgmental as ever. Here's a sample of what she's written recently:
  • People who commit suicide are selfish and stupid, and we shouldn't feel sorry for them or honor any of their contributions.
  • "Yeah, I know. I am a genius."
  • "Sometimes you just have to sacrifice yourself on the altar of bitchiness." (Sidebar: I don't even know what that means.)
  • A post that it's okay that her son spends an inordinate amount of time in bars with her, because she's "doing it differently than my dad did."
  • A whine session about how Facebook must be messed up because fewer people were liking and commenting on her posts. (Yeah, because it's Facebook's fault you're a bitch and people stopped paying attention to you.)
  • A rage against Facebook for showing Walmart ads when she doesn't want to see them. Apparently for all her self-appointed Internet genius she has failed to grasp that Facebook is free and therefore they can do whatever they want. You don't like it? Leave. Stop crabbing about something you get for free not doing exactly what you want.
  • Regular posts completely degrading people who try to connect with her on a business level using social media, in ways that she finds unacceptable. Like, uh, they politely asked if she would follow them on Twitter. This act of insanity led to a huge bitch session wherein she tore this poor marketing specialist to pieces on Facebook for having the gall to ask. Jeez, girl, just decline the request. No need to go all batshit crazy on someone.
  • A tirade against the two main actors in Dallas Buyers Club, because they suck and shouldn't have won Academy Awards. Not that she had seen the movie (she hadn't), she just knows. (For what it's worth, I saw the movie and I thought they did a wonderful job. It's graphic and hard to watch, but it tells an incredible story and opens the viewers eyes to the struggle for healthcare many in this country face. While I may not be crazy about these two particular actors, I can at least recognize talent and hard work.)
That first bullet point is it. It's what sent me over the edge. I'm done. One of my closest friends in high school killed himself and I just won't tolerate someone else casting judgment on his situation, his circumstance, his pain. Granted, this woman was referencing Kurt Cobain's suicide, which has been in the news a lot lately due to the 20th anniversary of his death. But she didn't know him, either. Who in the hell is she to judge someone else who is so depressed or has so many mental health issues that he feels that his only choice is to end his life? Don't those people deserve our compassion, our help, our understanding, more than anything? Isn't piling on judgment and an unwillingness to learn only compounding the problem?

I considered blasting her on her Facebook page. I considered sending her a private message. I thought about ways to send her an anonymous message so she wouldn't bully me. And then I realized that I didn't want to do what she does every day. So I went quietly into the night, choosing instead to simply "unfriend" her and erase her and her toxicity from my Facebook feed.

So why write about it all here? Well, my question is this: am I as bad as she is for judging her to be a terrible person? This, I cannot figure out.

While that ferments, I may have to do a serious reassessment of who is on my Facebook friends list. I think a purge is in order. This will naturally lead to a decrease in the amount of time I spend there just because I won't have to scroll through a shitload of inane posts by people I barely know or barely want to know just to get to the good posts (see what the family is doing, catch up on the baby pictures, the crazy people who run, who is on vacation and who is still struggling with this hella winter).

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