It’s happened again. Disappearing friend syndrome. One day my friend is there, on Facebook. The next day, I want to post a video of an animal yelling “Helen” on her wall, and she’s gone. Not just gone from my list of friends, but gone from the network entirely. Her profile has been erased. She’s departed the Matrix. She’s given up Facebook.*
I can’t do it, but I understand the reasons why I should give up Facebook. This past weekend, I was walking down a very crowded street in Soho when I saw two faces I normally see only on Facebook. They were in the throng of people, moving past me in the opposite direction. I was disoriented for a moment. In fact my moment of confusion was all it took for me to lose them in the crowd again. So instead of greeting this couple on the street and congratulating them on their recent marriage in person, I sheepishly posted a greeting to a Facebook wall. That’s just wrong.
Another reason why Facebook is awful? All the little ignoble things we say in conversation are immortalized on the Internet. What I’m thinking of right now is oneupmanship. You know, a college student complains, “OMG, finals are sooooo hard.” A graduate replies, “Wait until you have to get a job and pay bills.” A worker with a job says, “I hate my supervisor.” A friend with a more responsible job responds, “Just wait until you are the supervisor. So much worse.”
I think we all do this, or at least all of us have the impulse to say “You think you have it bad? Look at me,” but on Facebook it seems so much worse.
I watch this play out often. A mom posts a status about being up all night with her young child. Immediately another mother posts a “Wait until that toddler is a teenager. You’ll be up all night worrying. You don’t know how good you have it” response. Really? Is this insight into teen parenting supposed to make our mutual friend feel better? I don’t think it is. She’s tired. Let her complain.
Or a friend posts “My boyfriend stood me up because he was watching the game,” and someone responds, “Just wait until you are married to him. You’ll be stuck with him forever.” Friend B, if you were trying to deliver a reality check to Friend A regarding her boyfriend, you are doing it wrong.
No wonder my friend disappeared.
*Of course it is possible that she unfriended me and then used her privacy settings to become invisible to me. But I choose to believe that she rejected Facebook and not me. Then again, I might have driven her away by oversharing.