Sunday, January 29, 2012

Facebook and Friends

It is my current opinion that Facebook does as much to destroy friendships as it does to build them.  Today I unfriended 18 people on Facebook that I did not field really were friends any more.  Friendship should be two-way.  Many friends I've had over the years left me feeling that the whole relationship was one-sided.  I would do my best to encourage getting together and stuff, but I was doing all the work.  There was no give and take.  I gave and they took, probably begrudgingly.

Now I know that there has always been the possibility of this regardless of the medium for maintaining the friendship,  either in person, over the phone, snail-mail, email, chat, twitter, blogging, forums, and social networks such as Facebook.  In all of these examples, the relationship can become one-sided and merely by ignoring the other's communications, the friendship becomes stale until it ends altogether.

My concern is that Facebook contributes to this almost without us realizing it.  One of the latest introductions was the concept of "subscribing" to friend's feeds.  In other words, almost without us knowing, they took all of our friends (except the ones that THEY thought we wanted to be most in contact with) out of our news feeds and forced us to then subscribe to them.

They didn't give us a mechanism by which we could just subscribe to all of our friends and fix the problem (and also allow us to check a box when we get new friends to automatically subscribe).  This causes a problem.  If you do not choose to subscribe to all of your friends, unless they actually directly reply to posts or leave you messages on Facebook, it's as if they dropped off the earth.

I've seen a few where I had not heard from them and look at their wall only to find that they've been posting for a while, but I never saw them because I was not subscribed to their feed.  So frustrating.

However, I then have to wonder if they see my posts.  Am I being subscribed to by all of my friends?  Probably not.  In fact, they can easily ignore me and I am never the wiser (but then again, that's always a danger when friendships sour or go stale).

In the end, I have to assume that their lack of response to messages from me must be solid proof that the friendship is no longer alive.  However, was it because of something I did, or was it because Facebook killed the friendship by the changes it has made.

I consider the possibility that I must do my best to include and engage each and every one of my friends on a regular basis in order to more accurately ascertain the expiration date of the friendship.  However, who has time to contact over 100 friends (or more depending on your list) regularly?  Wasn't that what the news feed was supposed to allow us to do?

Ah well, I've cleaned up my list... now it's time to go in and make sure I've subscribed to everyone.  Perhaps you better do the same.

However, if you wish to no longer see my stuff, don't just hide it in your news feed.  PLEASE unfriend me.  At least I'll know where we stand again.

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