Last week I deleted two of my FaceBook friends. That was a big deal for me. I don’t do it very often, mostly because I don’t accept someone that I don’t actually know or remember. These two gals had histories of making comments I didn’t approve of, one was political and the other personal. That might sound petty and in fact one of them sent me a private message telling me that deleting her was immature, but it made me wonder why is it considered immature and what is an acceptable alternative?
I’ve been giving this some thought for months now as I’ve pondered these women’s comments, along with those of my other FaceBook friends. I can’t think of any other social setting where someone stands up in front of all of their friends/family/acquaintances and randomly says something like “Anyone who voted for Obama is an f-ing idiot”. Sure, you might say that to people whom you know share your views but probably not to a group including many people who likely did vote for him (Because he’s the president, which means he received the majority of the vote. Maybe some people don’t understand that). In day to day life, if someone said the things they post on FaceBook there would be repercussions, the greatest being people would not continue to listen to the rantings if they didn’t agree with them.
I really believe that FaceBook is changing our social norms to a certain extent. The person I deleted was upset by it but honestly we’re not really friends. This is someone I went to middle school with and can’t remember interacting with past 8th grade, not to mention the fact that I moved away from that school after our sophomore year of high school. I can’t tell you anything about her other than her name and of course her political opinions. This is not someone I would interact with in my day to day life. If I did and she said the things to me that she posts on FaceBook, I would choose not to interact with her anymore, which is the same as deleting her. That’s just what you do. I don’t understand what an acceptable alternative would be. Sure, I could argue with her or ignore her but neither one of them seem productive to me.
I’m not saying I won’t remain FaceBook friends with someone who has different opinions than I do. Just like in real life I have plenty of actual friends with varying views on life. I don’t mind that at all and I appreciate being able to have legitimate discussions about valid issues. And it's not just political issues that bother me. What I don’t care for is being called names or being angered by someone who obviously doesn’t know or care about the opinions or feelings of their audience. Likewise to the “friend”who makes mean comments about my photos or posts. I wouldn’t tolerate that to my face and I’m not going to put up with it on my FaceBook. What I'd like to see is an "acceptable" way to unfriend people. Maybe a little message that goes out that says "Perhaps you need to re-evaluate the way you act and/or treat people". Or maybe I need to figure out a way to nicely say that in real life too...