(see, my crippling loneliness isn’t always exclusively my fault)
After having a two-hour discussion with a friend of mine I’ve not talked to in a while, and not seen in even longer, I realised the ease with which one can talk to friends with shared interests totally out of the blue, in a constructive manner.
Predictably, my attempt to build bridges to my old mate from a few years ago then fell flat on its face, but surprisingly it wasn’t my fault; to my great sadness, my friend had deleted me on Facebook.
I’m not entirely surprised by this painful example of my ever-growing social exclusion, nor do I blame the friend in question, as we’d not spoken in years, and the peak of our relationship consisted of volunteering at a youth club for an hour a week, but I was surprised by the quietness of it; I didn’t even get a bloody notification from them, laughing at me.
This did make me think that I’m the flawed one here; on a personal level, have I been too clingy in assuming that I can pick up an acquaintanceship from where it left off just like that, and am I even desperate for doing so?
Or am I to blame in that I don’t conform to the technicalisation of our social interactions: is it my fault that I don’t pay close enough attention to Friend counts on Facebook, which have become the de facto measure of social involvement? Perhaps I’m not embracing these newly-omnipresent technologies in that I’m surprised by the bluntness of being deleted on Facebook – these days, the division between ‘friends’ and ‘not friends’ means you’re either on speaking terms or you’re not, and I’m probably a sentimental idiot for thinking there’s a way around this.
And it’ll probably only get worse in the future, with more and more of our lives documented and organised on the Internet in increasingly simplistic and generalised ways; I think a key reason for Google+’s failure is that it tries to divide people into separate groups, as real humans do, but in our ultra-connected society, we haven’t got the time or the willpower to divide up everyone we know into groups, as we probably would have done a century ago when we would only really know the people on our street; we need to generalise our relationships these days.
Perhaps this is why I was surprised at my apparent rejection, that I assumed that the broadness of being ‘friends’ basically meant anyone you so much as shared a room with for five minutes would be equated to your closest and oldest mates on Facebook – I thought I couldn’t possibly not make the cut, but apparently I don’t.
This has led to a strange paradox, that we include everyone we’re even vaguely aware of under the banner of a ‘friend’, suggesting universal acceptance, but we’re also encouraged to be more ruthless in placing that banner over people; if everyone can see our personal information to an equally detailed extent, shouldn’t we be more selective over who has access to that information – terms like ‘The Great Defriending’ are not totally detached from reality.
Or maybe I should just say bugger it all and actually meet my friends in person.