Just read an article in Salon about people whose divorces play out on Facebook. The article follows a fairly predictable arc – the starkness of the status update showing a person has switched from married to single, the unseemliness of personal problems being shared in such a public forum, the high stakes if the divorce lawyers subpoena computer records.
Here’s the line that got me:
When you want to be permanently free of your ex (at least online), there is the strongest weapon in a Facebooker’s armamentarium: deleting them, the fabled “defriending.”
I defriended someone last week. I knew him in middle school, we still have some friends in common, but several times, he posted fairly antagonistic responses to my status updates. Click! Unfriend!
There was a time in my life when I felt obligated to be nice to everyone, but you know what?
And I’m tired.
Facebook is like going out to a bar. I might engage in a little lighthearted verbal sparring about the issue of the day, but if you think that I came out to argue about the essence of my beliefs and values with some dull blowhard, you are sadly mistaken.
I don’t regard defriending as a weapon, I regard it as the online equivalent of saying I need to go to the ladies’ room but then simply walking over to another group of people. I’m busy. I’m tired. Your snarky comment on Facebook isn’t going to make me re-examine my personal philosophy, and guess what? I already know that many people disagree with me about all kinds of things, so you are not opening my eyes to that fact.
We shouldn’t give defriending so much power, or make it such a click of last resort. Otherwise, Facebook will become just one more place to take it on the chin, instead of a fun place to hang out now and then.