It was as if by bringing my Facebook page back to life after an extended dormancy simply by adding some updated photos, my friend list also sprung back to life as well. Apparently these people, all of whom I had met and formed a bond with the old-fashioned way, required me to regularly do my part.
Unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t living up to my social responsibility.
My friend list was alive and well but until I gave it a good reason to respond, I wasn’t going to hear a peep from it. This seems harsh but as I am still learning, it’s how the game is played. This game also has its own set of unique rules. For instance, comments on your updates do not necessarily require a response unlike a real life comment yet I still feel personally obligated to respond to a Facebook comment, especially one that is that is complimentary.
Those compliments always make me feel slightly uncomfortable and responding back is a way to alleviate that feeling. I don’t want my list (aka friends) thinking I am fishing but who knows what anyone’s intentions really are? I purposefully keep my own comments regarding my photos out of my updates. I don’t need anyone thinking I am bragging about my life. If you knew anything about my life, you would never think I was bragging but Facebook has a sick way of glossing people over, much like shellac over wood, so you don’t see the cracks. Maybe this is what people find so addicting? I don’t want anyone feeling bad about any aspect of their life simply by looking at some of my flattering family photos.
I do realize that my friends, at least my real ones would like to be updated on my life from time to time. This may satisfy some guilt on their parts for not taking more time to connect in ways that are far more meaningful than a computer generated media page though it does seem social media has conditioned all of us to think that we no longer have to. I have tried to connect with several “old friends” through Facebook over the years and haven’t gotten any more enthusiasm for rekindling the relationship or even a one-time catch up than a generic press of the accept invite button while they are immersed in other web activities. Should I be flattered I got this much? I have spent my fair share of time hating Facebook and all similar platforms for this reason. Yet, there are some people that are truly better left in the past. Any unwarranted relationship “revivals” usually come with their own negative consequences.
I also find it strange taking a voyeuristic approach into looking at the day to day lives of people, even if I do know them in the “in person” sense. It’s just that I might never have been privy to this much of their lives in the real world. This is also true for family members distant or otherwise that I don’t necessarily keep in regular touch with. It seems like a line is being crossed, one that can never be spoken. It feels like anything but a real human connection and more like silent stalking. I am sure growing up in a generation where there was no such thing as social media drives much of my discomfort. Still, I wonder if I will ever get completely used to it.
The fact remains that if I am to have any relationship at all with certain people, social media is my only option and I can take it or leave it. Maybe instead of viewing Facebook as a “real” relationship’s lazy cousin, I could start viewing it as one type of connection with those I care to connect with. Perhaps it can be an invaluable way to stay linked to those people I would have long ago lost touch with?
For that, I will keep on trying to connect.