The Unfriending

Filed in a bygone century out of shame.

Facebook capture has been achieved. Dragged kicking and screaming, I finally went limp and fell into its embrace. “Thou doth protest too much,” it whispered, all-knowing.

Wait a minute. This isn’t news. What is, is that I’ve become addicted to little red flags indicating Something Has Happened, eg a friend request or acceptance, or perhaps a mention (I’ve heard it happens). Hit me baby one more time.

Yet ambivalence remains, my consort in life.

The good: It’s fun to search for intelligent life and make first contact, if necessary using the universal language of photoshop.


It gets the wheels spinning. Who knows where you may end up.

The bad: I’m still not sure you end up anywhere. And there are limitless opportunities to be snubbed. Hello, cruel world.

Listen, it’s always nice to chat with friendly folk, and a direction isn’t required to make the exchange worthwhile. As someone who has virtually no social life, it’s a godsend (or pathetic, if you prefer). The problem is, with few exceptions it’s been like pulling teeth.

practically obligatory illustration

Take this gambit:

It yields a solitary response. Granted, I only had a dozen friends at the time (this number has since ballooned to 21 – break out the champagne! even if 4 of those are relatives), but it still strikes me as an abysmal success rate. Although it wasn’t the easiest to answer, I’m not convinced the nature of the question was the issue.

What was the issue? I don’t know. It could be my messages in a bottle are getting lost in the feed of people who have many more friends than I to keep track of, which if I’m not mistaken is everybody else on the planet. Possibly I’m like that guy who breaks into a water cooler moment speaking Swahili. Possibly my friends are duds. Possibly I am [much more likely -ed].


Speaking of which, I committed my first unfriending yesterday, if you don’t count the actual first one a few days earlier, as that was clearly necessary, the beneficiary high on the fraudster meter. No, this one was a genuine heartbreaker.

Acquaintance from RL in my distant college past. Wouldn’t call him a friend, not that I wouldn’t have been open to the possibility, but we never went there.

Come the current Facebook era I look him up, as one does, and find him quite active both in his chosen profession (which he’s very good at) and social media. I send a friend request, he accepts, away we go.

Only we don’t go anywhere at all interesting. This bothers me for some reason – “Is he immune to my charms?” I mutter under my breath on occasion. Cue my perhaps making a little too much of an effort to engage, with no discernible results. Soon enough even the sight of his little profile pic annoys me, a constant badge of perceived failure.

I make the grave mistake of attempting what I hope will not be construed as anything other than lighthearted remonstrance, garlanded with my wishes for a more active engagement, complete with my genuine compliments on his wordsmithery.

An epic fail on the messaging front, or so I see it, follows. Horrified, I direct my wavering finger (despite a red light flashing in my insomniac’s brain – WARNING: sleep on it WARNING: sleep on it) over the Friend button to reverse that process: a very uncheery prospect indeed. Finger takes the plunge. The deed is done. I am faintly sickened at the carnage.

The following morning I consider the earlier-in-the-morning’s events. Decide I was being an ass. Maybe. At the risk of being reported to the authorities as a stalker, I contact Mr Unfriend with a conciliatory “mea culpa” explanatory email (he’s one of us dinosaurs who still uses that ancient technology), thus satisfying my conscience that I’ve done my best on the communication front. And that, my imaginary Lost in Translation friend, is that.

Naturally he hasn’t acknowledged receipt. I hardly expected him to, indeed almost dreaded the very prospect. I think I can rest easy. For a change.

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