Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Social Networking Ettiquette

Graphic courtesy of trifu.net

I will ultimately get to my Social Networking installment of the Modern Day Mating Ritual posts, but in light of today's events (all before noon, wheeee), I wanted to examine the role Social Networking plays a part into our daily lives. More specifically, the importance placed on relationship status and the friending or unfriending an individual on Facebook.

Why does being accepted as a Facebook friend carry such weight? It almost seems as if the "friending" via social networking is a step above and beyond just knowing a person in real life or having acquainted with them in real-life social situations. It's telling the rest of the internet world "I approve of this person. This person is worth knowing."

In fact, I know several people who jokingly say that a relationship is not "official" until it's made it's debut on "the book."

It's funny because it's true. Every relationship starts out about the same... boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl gets all weird and paranoid in her brain trying to define the relationship.

When I was 18, I met the guy that I subsequently dated for 4 years. I was young and inexperienced, and not completely self-confident, so I was terrified of having the "DTRT," as my friends and I called it. The Determining the Relationship Talk. The guy in question was somewhat shy and was the type to "take things slow," so between his shyness and my refusal to have the DTRT, we spent 9 whole months hanging out every day, sleeping over almost every night, attending each others' Sorority/Fraternity formals, being cutesy, and having a sexual relationship without ever defining the relationship.

It finally came down to one summer afternoon, we were hanging out in his room at the frat house when he finally turned to me and said "I think you should be my girlfriend."

My response? "I thought I already was."

This confusion would never have occurred if Facebook had been around. After several times of hanging out exclusively, one of us would have changed our relationship status from "Single" to nothing. We may have even changed the "Looking For" field from "Dating, A Relationship" to "Friends."

That's a pretty big deal in the development of a Facebook relationship. Once that step has been taken, the other party knows that you don't consider yourself single anymore, but you still protect your ego since you haven't gone so far as to say you are in a relationship.

Then you can awkwardly and/or jokingly suggest that maybe we say you're in an "Open Relationship" or  "It's Complicated," You know. Just to see what other people say. And then, before you know it, you're full on committed and the whole Facebook world knows that you and Johnny Appleseed are "In a Relationship."

I think the reason that the declaration of the relationship to the entire interweb is such a big deal is that it requires accountability from the both of you. You can't date for a week, break up, and then claim that you were "never exclusive." Mais non, mon ami! Facebook can PROVE that you were in a relationship. Furthermore, it makes the relationship public. You become the Gosselins and all your Facebook friends are the readers of US Weekly. You break up? EVERYONE knows about it.

Way back in the beginning of the Facebook days, no one was able to comment on changes in status or wall posts. In fact, there was no such thing as a newsfeed. Stalking was considerably harder in those olden days. To determine that a couple had split, you would actually have to look at their profile regularly to view their relationship status, but now - thanks to the convenient stalker tool of the newsfeed - a relationship status change gets published right on your home page.

Entering a relationship with someone might solicit "likes" and comments of congratulations. But then again, breaking up with someone and changing your status from "In a Relationship" to "Single," may solicit the exact same response. But that's an entirely different post for an entirely different day.

The bottom line is, apparently the Facebook friendship and relationship status is seemingly very important to the status of our real life friendships and relationships.

It is for this very reason, that being "unfriended" by someone, usually comes across as a terrible insult. A slap in the face, if you will.

Well, my friends. Today I was unfriended.

I'm not a stranger to being unfriended. It doesn't happen a lot, but I've been the victim of an unfriending a handful of times. The difference between this time and those others is that at least I understood why I was being unfriended in those situations. Being unfriended by an ex, family members or friends of exes, people from high school or college that you haven't spoken to in years and hardly spoke to when you were acquainted at that time are not a huge deal. I get it. It stings a bit, but I get it.

But, has it ever happened to you that you were unexpectedly unfriended by someone? Someone who you thought to previously have a friendly relationship with? Someone you are required to see on a regular basis? For seemingly no reason?

Yeah, it's kind of like getting sucker punched in the gut.

So, I reiterate. Today, I was unfriended. By who? R's sister in law. Yep, the very same who came to visit over the weekend.

Not that she and I have ever been BFFs, but I thought we got along fairly well. I thought she was nice, and she and I would routinely share stories and joke around about the oddities and idiosyncrasies that make R and his brother so alike. I certainly never had anything against her, nor did I think she had anything against me, but apparently I must have done something so egregiously offensive that it called for an unceremonious booting from her social networking world.

When I saw that I was no longer her friend (because I went to write on her wall to say that I hope we can all visit again soon), I was confused, hurt and pretty offended. Like I said, a Facebook defriending is tantamount to a slap in the face. It seems stupid, but the importance has been laid on the meaning of these "friendships," as the social networking world has expanded.

Now, here's the thing. Passive aggressiveness just does not fly with me. And I've wracked my brain to think of what I could have done to deserve the cold-shoulder, but I am at a loss. There was a small amount of tension on Saturday morning when she and R's brother requested that we go to lunch at an Italian beef place. I felt like the decision was made without my input, and I was feeling excluded since I can't eat anything served there (I'm vegan to anyone new to this blog). I opted to stay home, rather than insist that the others change their plans to accommodate me, so it's possible that she viewed my choice to stay home as an insult to her and R's bro, but even if that was the case, I don't feel this is the right response.

Again, passive aggressiveness is not something I tolerate, and I refuse to play into furthering that dynamic, so rather than pretend like nothing happened and wait until the next family event where we can ignore one another or fake it, I am taking things head on. I sent her a polite, yet not overly friendly email explaining that I am upset by what she did and if I did something to upset her I would like to know what it is so I can avoid it in the future.

The whole thing is just exhausting, though. You'd think that in our late 20's we'd be able to address people and problems like adults, but instead we hide behind our computers and our social networks using status updates or defriending as a means to telling someone, "Hey, you did something that pissed me off."

When did that happen? Or has our society always been like that and the social networking has just made it easier?

Regardless of the outcome of my email to her, we are going to have to make buddy-buddy since we will be seeing a lot of each other over the next few decades. That is, provided, that R and I get married and have the babies and all that domestic shiz. But it would just be nice if it was a genuine effort on both parts, because the only thing I hate more than passive aggressive behavior is fakeness. I've never been good at it, since I wear my heart and emotions on my sleeve, so the sooner this gets resolved the better or next time she sees me she's REALLY gonna think I'm a bitch.

So, how's that for a Tuesday morning rant? Tired of hearing me complain? Fair enough. Here's something to lighten up this post a bit.

Courtesy of the Tosh.0 Blog - a video to remind us just how sick minded our society is.

This Is Not Sick, You Are Sick


Anonymous said...

Sucks to hear about your defriending. I would "dislike" but unfortunately facebook only wants to keep things positive and refuses to add a "dislike" option. Bastard billionaire 20-somethings. I cannot stand passive-agressiveness. Which is worse...the eggshell walk email you had to write to get back in her good graces without the risk of insulting her further or the BS excuse email she's going to write in response?

By the way - is the chick in that video single?

In my world I ROCK said...

OMG I just (2 days ago) deactivated my FB account because I didn't want to deal with the negative responses from other guys to me putting a pic of Ting and I up as my default pic. (Mind you my relationship status on my page is still NOTHING)...

Like you, at this age I didn't think I would be dealing with this. I needed to take it off for a few days to cool off... and whenever I decide to bring it back up I will start defriending a whole mess of people.

In my world I ROCK said...

OMG I just (2 days ago) deactivated my FB account because I didn't want to deal with the negative responses from other guys to me putting a pic of Ting and I up as my default pic. (Mind you my relationship status on my page is still NOTHING)...

Like you, at this age I didn't think I would be dealing with this. I needed to take it off for a few days to cool off... and whenever I decide to bring it back up I will start defriending a whole mess of people.

Nashe^ said...

My aunt defriended me and some other relatives, then friended us again using another name. Reason? Her other (real) account includes pics and vids of her partying her life away, and it's only open to her partyhead MILF friends. Yeah that kinda hurt, coz she should have figured that I would be cool with her life.

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