Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Matter of Friends

There's a piece in the NY Post about a new trend with Facebook and social media.

You see....the level of frustration with the election has reached a point, where people don't just unfriend Trump-supporters....they also unfriend who aren't hyped up as anti-Trumpers.  In effect, you are marginally interested in politics or just do mostly funny clips....your best friend from college, or your 2nd neighbor over from the house....might unfriend you because you just weren't focused on hating Trump.

I sat and paused over this.

In Alabama, for years, there's been this uneasy situation where Auburn and University of Alabama football supporters hated each other.  There was just enough tolerance that you could go to a family gathering or a church social....greet....shake hands....maybe share a short beer.  But the minute that football came up, there was this dividing line.  You might share several years of 'peace' and then one day....with some 42-to-14 win by Auburn over Alabama....you'd find that there's more than a bit of hostility brewing.

Some people with fragile feelings would need to find a safe space or a kind soul to hear their woeful telling of being unfriended, and how it's not fair.

You start to ponder over this.  What exactly have we wandered into with this social media "friend" business?

Maybe you work at some technology business and your boss wants you to help Wang Lu....from a Chinese company.  So Wang comes over for three weeks, and you help with a project.  You and Wang go for a couple of beers....talk Americana....discuss American trailer-park women....and then Wang wants to be a 'friend' off Facebook.  Two weeks pass after Wang leaves and he introduces you (via an email) to some Chinese gal named Biyu. She wants to 'friend' you too.  And within a month, you have a dozen Chinese folks who you've never met....as friends.  You can only connect them via Wang.  Are they really friends?  No.

Maybe you left home at eighteen and over thirty years haven't been back to see much of anyone.  One day, someone from class that you barely knew....hits you via Facebook and wants to friend you.  Within a month, a dozen other former school associates have you on Facebook.  To be honest, you haven't seen a single one since 1980, so you ask yourself....are they really friends?  No.

Maybe you went off on a two-week camping trip to the Grand Canyon back in 2008 and met five folks from Houston....all associated with some weird mega-church operation and awful conservative in nature.  It was a wonderful two week period that you will remember for the rest of your life.  The five folks....nice enough....you ate supper with them every night...talked over Fleetwood Mac tunes...discussed the failures of Bush....and noted great western movies.  Oh, and they prayed for you almost nightly, even though you asked to not to....citing that McCain needed more of a blessing. So you wake up six years later and the five found you on Facebook and want to be friend you.  Are they really friends?  No.

We come to this awful dilemma in life.  You can't have 488 friends via Facebook.  You can't have even forty friends.  At best, around you....you might have 20 folks who you could pick up the phone and say you got some major problem, and those 20 folks would come to help you out.  These aren't the types to unfriend you because Hillary lost, or you didn't pretend to be anti-Trump enough, or that Auburn did slaughter Alabama by 28-to-7. These are actual real friends.

So settle back, and think over the silly nature of Facebook.  It's a fad...nothing more.