Note: After a long hiatus (blame it on personal schedule conflicts, but more so my HP laptop which is still in the HP Customer Centre after more than three months!!!, sadly), I am now at a borrowed computer “publishing” the last draft I wrote before my laptop issues arose. I am really disappointed with HP. Maybe I should just get a Mac. Anyway…that might yet be another blog by an aggrieved customer….. Also, please note, the following is a tongue-in-cheek response to an article I read, so please don’t get up in arms with me, ok? :p
The New Oxford American Dictionary, named “unfriend” — as in deleting someone as a friend on a social network such as Facebook — its word of the year on Monday, [16th November 2009]. Oxford University Press USA, in a blog post, said “unfriend,” a verb, had bested netbook, sexting, paywall, birther and death panel for the honor.
It’s scary that “unfriend” gets to be word of the year, even if it were in a virtual context. It just speaks to the type of friendships online. I guess we can join a community of people with shared interests and have some meaningful and warm conversations even. But I’m not sure if it constitutes a real friendship without personal interaction. Virtual is too easy. Too clinical. Chats can be easily edited.
I think the acid test is when it crosses to the real world where words once out, can’t be edited. Where annoying habits and behaviour are exposed. Where things are just messier.
I heard over the air recently, of people who just keep “adding” friends. No reason. No need. There’s not even much contact, even virtually. Why? How does that constitute friend?! 😮 It is not a friend, someone you can “unfriend”, just by deleting a name.
Oxford dictionary defines friend as “a person with whom one has a mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relationships”. Dictionary.com speaks of “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”.
There are some you are friends with, in both virtual and real worlds. Do we “unfriend” in the virtual world those we know in real life as well? We couldn’t possibly unfriend someone in the virtual world and yet be friends in the real world, can we?
I think it’s too easy in the virtual world to befriend someone. It doesn’t take any effort except to add a “friend”. The rest of it is adding cursory remarks on your wall for others to keep abreast of your life and follow updates. Sometimes someone writes on your wall and you respond. Most times, it’s just that – an update. I am thinking that if it’s someone you can “unfriend” so easily, then perhaps they were not friends in the first place.
On the flip side, if we took “unfriend” into the real world, it would seem so primary school. So I guess friendships in the real world is not as indiscriminate. You can’t possibly be friends to all, can you?
There is a person I used to interact with, who thinks you can. Just be inclusive and rotate lunch sessions with all in the organisation and they are all friends! 😮 He is sadly misguided. Thankfully though or there’ll be lots of “unfriending” to do.
So if we took friendships the good ol’ fashion way, at what point, can we “unfriend” anyone.
To me, it’s when a friend betrays another. For whatever reason including ideologically and emotionally.
What about socially? Can we accept that a friend can befriend someone who has betrayed us? There’s nothing wrong with a casual “hi” and “bye” and occasional catch ups or “no-choice-have-to-interact-at-work” interactions.
But sleeping with the “enemy” literally 🙂 and figuratively, might not be kosher. I don’t have to explain the “sleeping” in the literal sense 😀 But figuratively, I guess any interaction on a deeper level might be awkward. That to me, is when we have crossed the line and made an emotional connection.
Someone I know said, “We can’t choose our colleagues [or family], but we can choose our friends”. So the more fool we, who do not choose well.
I guess the virtual world does not have categories of friendships. You either are friend or not. It’s too difficult to have BFFs, BF, Friend, Lesser Friends, Lesser Mortals, Mere Mortals, Not Mortals, Mortal Enemies… hahaha… it will be anarchy displaying these sub-categories in plain view of all “friends”.
Regardless, my point is we can, in the real world, demarcate good friends, casual friends, friends of a season, fair weather friends, so we should choose well. “Unfriending” in the real world is messy business.