the unwanted advance of Social Media

I had the great pleasure of a long phone conversation with a new friend today. We get along so well because we value “real” and are very direct people. What do I mean by direct you ask? If you’re wearing an ugly hat don’t ask us if we like your hat. We should both have tee shirts that read “are you sure you want me to answer that?” You get the point.

We got onto the subject of social media today. We discussed the pitfalls of easy access, the danger of stalkers and trolls, and the evaluation process when accepting or ignoring friend requests. My friend and I mostly agreed on what constitutes a “friend” and we shared some funny and not so funny stories about different people’s attempts to access our little online worlds. As we joked back and forth, once again I triggered myself. I really need to stop doing that.

A few years ago I got a friend request from “Sue”. I didn’t recognize her at first, the last name didn’t ring a bell. When I saw the friends list I saw my cousin Mike and I realized who it was. DELETE. A few days later I got another. DELETE. A few weeks later another. DELETE. My cousin’s ex-wife was not going to infect my Facebook. A few weeks and 2 DELETES later my cousin called. Mind you I hadn’t talked to him in months (long story). He wasn’t calling to say hi, he wanted to know why I wasn’t accepting “Sue’s” friend request. “You’re joking right?”

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“Not at all, why.”

“Because we went almost 6 years without speaking because of her. Why would I want to talk to her now?”

“Let it go.” Yeah, not my style. He doesn’t get it, he never will

It all started in the late 80’s. Mike and his new girlfriend Sue asked me to go to an amusement park in Western, MA (now a Six Flags) with them. I had hung out with them a few times before this, Mike and I were very close so it wasn’t unusual for him to invite me along. Mike was smitten with Sue, me not so much. I found her to be selfish, immature and smothering.  But it wasn’t about me, it was his life. He had a wonderful combination of good heart and low self-esteem that predestined him to marry the first girl who touched his dick.

We walked into the entrance of the enormous park, Mike looked really happy. We headed towards the largest attraction only to realize that Sue had dropped off a few yards back. We quickly found her on a bench. She looked miserable. He immediately asked her what was wrong. To which he was met by a “nothing”. He persisted to ask what happened and she continued to not answer him. A “fine” (the dreaded word to any man) would have been a welcome relief. Finally, she got off of the bench and trudged alongside my hapless cousin. I wasn’t playing her bullshit games, I ignored her. Later that day, when Sue was doing some collectible shopping, Mike pulled me aside and said “you’re not going to believe what that was about”

“I’m listening,” I said.

“We walked past a popcorn stand and I didn’t think to stop and get her some.”

Wow, I thought to myself. It’s so much worse than I thought! Always the compassionate one I said “She’s not here right now. Run, don’t walk.”

He thought I was kidding.

We got through that day and many others. He eventually proposed. She, of course, said yes. Mike and I were having drinks a few days later. The waiter had just dropped off a fresh round. Mike watched him walk off, leaned back in his chair, looked at me and asked: “what do you think about Sue?”

“What do you mean, what do I think?” I asked him quizzically. “What does it matter, I’m not marrying her.” I was hoping that I would end it there. I wouldn’t be so lucky.

“Cut the shit. Tell me what you think.”

“Don’t make me say it.”

“Say it.” He leaned in and met my eyes.

“She’s a fucking bitch and she’s going to ruin your life!” I blurted.”Happy?” Instantly relieved yet mad at myself. I was waiting for the punch. We had beaten the snot out of each other more than a few times. Bracing for a table full of drinks and a 185-pound cousin landing in my lap, I instead saw before me a perfectly calm guy.

“I’m sorry Mike, I love ya cuz. I’m just thinking about you. Not trying to be an ass.”

In the end, it didn’t make a difference. They got married, I was an usher. I slept with one of her bridesmaids (the streak was intact). I managed to keep it together until about a year later when I was visiting them and their new baby. Sue was being exceptionally bitchy and demanding of Mike. He was exhausted from trying to please her and care for the baby and she was acting like a petulant child. After watching Mike offer to make her different dinners only to be met with indifference and attitude I spoke up. In not so many words I lashed out at her for treating him so poorly. I may have mentioned something along the lines of “like I called it” which wasn’t helpful. Mike, against the wall, had to make a decision and he chose to throw me out. I welcomed the cold air in my face to the cold air coming from that bitch.

We wouldn’t speak for 6 years, when he divorced her. I had been right, but I wasn’t happy about it. She ruined the guy. Mike and I really aren’t the same but we are friendly. We have rules now, one is we don’t talk about Sue. So when he asked me to accept her friend request it brought back a lot of memories.

This ties in with the social media thing as such. Who do you have on your Facebook? I only have family, school classmates, co-workers past and present and a very select few that mean enough to me to follow their lives. I certainly have no room for someone who threw me out of her house many years ago, nor do I think it’s appropriate for someone else to advocate on her behalf. I would like to think that I have some say in whom I interact with.

 

Facebook and real friends

“Hi, I’m Bill and I’m addicted to Facebook.” Sorry, wrong meeting.

I have the same love/hate relationship with FB that I have with alcohol. I use both frequently but monitor myself carefully for addiction.

FB has served my generation well because I didn’t have it when I was young so I remember life before it. It allows me to recognize the difference between FB life and real life. There are FB friends and then there are real friends. You can have both on social media.

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Here are my thoughts on different types of FB users.

It is very useful and enjoyable to keep up with the lives of people I went to school with or formerly worked with. I like knowing what they are up to, it’s like following their lives.

I hate the vague posts begging for attention. People who put up shit like “grrrr so aggravated!” without explaining why are clearly begging for someone to say “awww what’s the matter honey?” or “I love you sweetie let me know if I can help you.”. Those compliment-baiters drive me crazy.

People don’t need to check in everywhere they go. First of all, nothing says “break into my house I’ll be gone for awhile” like detailing every step of your Tuesday afternoon shopping trip. And I don’t need to see a pic of every meal you eat.

Too much politics and hate. We all have an opinion, it comes down to how we express it. Getting political on FB is asking for trouble because of Facebook Balls, the phenomena in which complete strangers get real tough and mean with you from the safety of their keyboards.  

It causes more divorces than can be measured. The tendency to flirt through messenger or reach out drunkenly to the “one that got away” leads to bad things. I know of what I speak. Moral of the story, if you can’t stop, learn how to use the delete button.

I use Facebook to keep up with people. I follow a lot of (credible) news sites. I belong to several pages dedicated to my chronic illness on which I have made some good friends, gotten and given valuable support. I only post positive things that I would want my own mother to see. I keep my content clean and positive and I eliminate those who piss on my threads. Every once in a while, however, Facebook shows you something special.

Sunday I shared a sentimental blog post that I wrote about the anniversary of the passing of my father

https://goodtobealivetoday.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/talking-to-granite/

to Facebook (almost no one on this site read it but I digress). It was emotional and I think it was well-written. It generated a ton of response. Some real love flowed onto my page. It occurred to me too late that such a post can be construed as an attempt to elicit sympathy. NOT what I was going for. I was simply imploring people to tell those in their lives that they are loved…before it is too late to tell them. But I found that there are people on my friends’ list that I thought were only FB friends but were instead actual friends. One response was particularly moving.

As soon as the post appeared on my wall I got an inbox message from James, my former assistant.

“Hey bro, I was just thinking of you and your post popped up. I wanted to tell you how much I miss working with you, you’re one of my favorite people in the world. How are you?”

We went back and forth for a while. I was truly moved by some of the things he said. James was my assistant for 5 years. He was a great, and frustrating co-worker. Intelligent but cocky; resistant to being taught anything but a quick learner when he did; a classic underachiever yet thorough and reliable. I sometimes wondered if he ever absorbed any of the things I tried so hard to teach him. It turns out he did. I am grateful for him as well, he balanced me out. He isn’t just a co-worker or a FB friend. He is an actual friend.