Wednesday, October 3, 2012

friends removed

Not every noun makes a good verb. Like, friend. I remember the first time someone said to me: "Okay, so I'll friend you and then we'll get together . . . " The progression seemed totally backwards, of course, but this kind of friending occurs in the context of Facebook, where it's totally different from liking. But that may be another story.

I joined Facebook on May 20, 2008. I don't know this fact about myself because I remember it, but because Facebook maintains what it calls a 'timeline' of my activities, at least insofar as they're trackable with my security settings turned to the max. BTW, back in 2008 this 'timeline' was known as a 'wall,' and I liked that terminology much better.

I joined Facebook because I belonged to two organizations that simultaneously decided to try increasing their visibility and influence through social media. ONE group alone probably wouldn't have convinced me, but for a while I was actively adding friends with these two missions in mind. Were the missions accomplished? It's hard to know. I do know that Homeboy Industries, one organization I currently 'like,' posts at least two or three items daily, usually including a 'thought for the day' along with a photo of the person contributing it. Professional PR is behind this effort as surely as it was NOT behind my own groups' efforts.

Earlier this year, I had over 600 Facebook friends and was getting very little enjoyment from social media. Today I'm down to 557 friends (plus 116 'likes') and am actually getting some fun out of my Facebook experience for the first time since the earliest days of membership.

Before I started actively getting rid of Facebook friends, I'd go to the site and find whole screens full of things posted by folks I didn't know or care about. When I unfriended these folks (yes, unfriend is the word I must click on to perform this minor miracle), I free up space for postings from folks I DO know, including a precious subset of real-world FRIENDS.

When I click on unfriend, I get a message that asks, "REMOVE FROM FRIENDS?" My affirmative gets the confirmation, "FRIEND REMOVED," and I click a final "OK." So it's at least a three-step process, as friend removal certainly should be if it were as dire as it sounds.

Alas, two or three of my remaining Facebook friends have been known to post ten or more items in an hour: not their own thoughts but pictures and messages they've picked up and passed along from their other Facebook friends and the myriad entities they've 'liked.' Don't they know they're three clicks away from ostracism?

Years ago I asked Steve whether he knew the difference between a second cousin and a first cousin once removed. "I don't know," he said, "I've never had a cousin removed." The distinction between levels of cousinship still escapes me, but I know all about having friends removed.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License