Last month I did some pruning of my Facebook “friends” list. There were several people on there whom I don’t really know and definitely don’t have any regular contact with. Given the amount of information that Facebook provides me, a mostly uncontrollable flood, I finally asked myself, “Why am I getting updates about people I don’t really know, haven’t seen in more than a year, and don’t stay in touch with?”
Now, I’m the first to recognize that a virtual “friend” isn’t going to be the same thing as a real-life friend. But there are “friends” on Facebook who, even if we haven’t spent much time hanging out together, we are still regularly in contact with one another. We comment on each other’s updates and photos, etc.
Same thing here on Xanga. There are many people in Xangaland with whom I feel I’ve developed a close rapport. We share stories about our lives, comment on each other’s stories, have little dialogues. I interact with some of these people more than I do with my family. So I don’t want to suggest that virtual “friends” can’t have a lot of value.
But it does seem like a point was reached where I had to make some decisions, at least with regards to those Facebook “friends”.
I knew that doing so might come back to haunt me. Sure enough, this week I received an email from one of these pruned “friends”:
We used to be facebook friends… OK, we haven’t hung out in a while, but I’m a little surprised that you deleted me. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t done anything to sprite you.
Anyhow, not broken up over it. It’s just kinda funny.
To which I thought, “You may not be broken up about it, but it must have bothered you enough to send this message.”
After a few days of figuring out the most diplomatic way to say, “I don’t really know you so I don’t feel the need to call you a friend,” I settled on the following:
Rest assured my deleting you doesn’t have anything to do with you having spited me. After the most recent facebook format was put into place, I’ve found it difficult to manage the amount of information I’m receiving. The flood of status updates, quizzes, photo album adds, etc. is making it difficult for me to stay up to date with those people whom I know well and stay in touch with regularly.
Because of that, I decided to start pruning my list of virtual friends. I feel that I don’t really need to be receiving updates on people I’ve only met a couple of times and haven’t had any contact with in a year or more.
I hope you’ll understand my decision to try and define virtual “friendships” less like acquaintances and more like friendships I have in real life.
Do you think I handled it diplomatically enough? It is tough to tell someone that, but I didn’t want to wuss out and make a lame excuse like, “Oh, that must have been an accident.” If I value honesty and directness from others, I guess I should be willing to be honest and direct – and hopefully tactful – myself.
Where are you on the virtual friends issue?