Linky Love: A Tale of Catch and Release

I was unfriended at Facebook about a month ago.

To be honest, I don’t remember adding the person to my friend list. I found her inclusion on my list a bit odd as she was someone from the widow board who basically disowned me during the little ruckus* I inadvertently caused last August.

Regardless, I checked in one morning and noted the loss of a friend and was puzzled. It took me a couple of scans through my friend’s list to figure out who was missing, so I guess that sums up how big a loss it really is. Rob thinks perhaps she left Facebook entirely and that it wasn’t simply a case of suddenly realizing she had added me as friend as a mistake.

And it could be.

Still, whether I care or not, being dumped off someone’s Facebook friend list, or their blogroll, without warning bothered me for reasons I was not able to put a full finger on and pin down.

Perhaps it goes back to high school. And here I must pause and wonder – yet again – why those god awful years cause such a life long hangover.

I was not popular, but a friend pointed out to me once after we were well into adulthood that this was only because I chose not to be. She insisted that I could have been a force to reckon with socially, had I been so inclined. It was flattering of her to say so, however I am doubtful.

I am an acquired taste and even people who have managed to learn me well enough to know me can still be amazed by the things I say, do or write.

Anyway, in high school I was not pretty. I did not belong to any organization, club or team that would arouse envy in others. I didn’t date, so there was no chance of anyone coveting my boyfriend. My family was dysfunctional, and well-known for it, so I am certain no one secretly wished to exchange lives with me either.

High school was something I endured and ultimately escaped. I think that is true for most people which always made me wonder, when I was a teacher, why there seemed to be such mystery surrounding the fact that teens seem to learn so little there. High school is like a minimally controlled Lord of the Flies environment. How can anything productive be expected to come out of it?

So my lack of popularity as a teen still stings me now and being cyber dumped dredges all that crap up. Whether it is Facebook or blogrolls or just post links. The motivation is probably nothing personal – but not knowing the motivation – one goes to all the dark deserted hallways of one’s inner high school and feels like the slighted fat girl all over again.

Worse, you feel stupid for caring. It’s not as if anyone on the other side of the screen really knows me, or I them for that matter. You read what they care to tell you and take a shot in the dark when you comment based on the accumulation of what amounts to random data.

But then I read a piece by my wise friend and fellow blogger, Marsha. She had a read a book detailing the friendship between an art dealer and a homeless man. She shared a bit of the story that summed up what I could not pin down:

Denver went on. “I just can’t figure it out. ‘Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that’ll look. Then we eat what we catch…in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.”

“So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend.”

“But if you is looking for a real friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.” (p107)**

I have been caught and released. But I am not a fish. I take it personally. Perhaps I shouldn’t. Some people are not meant to travel the entire journey but simply share roads – some major, some secondary and some will be the meandering little stretches of trail that give us time and opportunity to really connect.

When Will was sick I had a friend who thought she was doing her bit to support me by calling to check up on me every three months. Like clockwork. I had a much dearer friend who decided her church obligations on the Sunday morning before Will died were more important than coming to his hospice room and taking BabyDaughter so she wouldn’t have to witness the terrible struggle her father was in. Later she missed nearly all of his wake because one of her children had a volleyball game. Surprisingly I released the first person and kept the other. Mainly because I realized that the first was someone the circumstances that had linked us were no longer and our relationship road was now just a cul-de-sac we will stroll when we chance to meet up, circular and memory-based. The latter is like my sister – and we can’t choose our family – just forgive them for being as strong or weak as they are because for every instance they have let us down, so there is a matching one of our own failing.

As far as the blogosphere goes, in the future I think I will look more carefully at the circumstances and the level of acceptance before allowing myself to be “caught”. A true friend will accept me for who I am and forgive me for who I cannot be. And will let me know when our paths are diverging in a manner that is not intended to cause pain.

* I was unsympathetic “out loud” to widows who complained about non-widowed whiners when the widow in question whined pretty much about the exact same molehill things – not talking grief issues but just the everyday stuff that widowed think the un-so get too wrapped up in as if we didn’t before there were bigger fish catching fire around us. There is a lot of pot and kettle stuff on the board when it comes to the right to complain. I let myself get drawn in too often. My bad. Anyway, my comment was misconstrued, deliberately, by a woman there who never missed an opportunity to tell me I was horrid and shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion about widowhood because I was such a lousy example of what a “good widow” is. Interestingly, I continue to have this problem. No one wants to ask you what you meant. People prefer to jump to conclusions and, in my case online, give the ultimate cyber-slap – unlinkage. My ever wise husband rolls his eyes at this point and reminds me that most of the people who have done this – never liked me anyway – but it is annoying when he gets linked and I don’t when he is even less sympathetic than I am. It’s also mean to unlink without acknowledgement of said fact, but it is meant that way. I always try to explain when I rearrange or drop links. Some people’s blogs don’t fit or deserve more privacy after all.

** From the novel “Same Kind of Different as Me: a modern-day slave, an international art dealer and the unlikely woman who bound them together” by Ton Hall and Denver Moore.

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15 responses to “Linky Love: A Tale of Catch and Release

  1. I’ve never unfriended someone on Facebook without at least a couple of months of thought and some efforts at communicating any issues that bother me. When I realize that I’m not getting anywhere and the person can’t understand what I’m trying to communicate I think about how much this person is worth to me. If it’s not someone that is very close I make a decision not to be friends with them in any form and ignore all future communication. Trying to explain why you don’t want to be friends with someone when they don’t want to hear what you’re saying only brings more unwanted drama. Removing from Facebook and ignoring them offline gives the person a strong message that I no longer want them in my life in any form. I find that too many people keep people they don’t like or don’t respect on their friends lists out of guilt

  2. I do not have a Facebook profile, partly because the whole internet friend thing unnerves me.On my blog, I link people I like to read, and will not remove anyone without undue provocation.

  3. between your post today and the emotionally wrenching post over at silverstars place, i’m taking a step back from the blogosphere – momentarily…

    as i stated there, if you consider each independent blog as a “bubble”, moving and evolving in it’s own space… momentarily intersecting the other “blog” bubbles… it’s a reminder that putting our “voices” out here is primarily for our own needs. And the resonance and validation that happens along the way? Serendipity and joy…

    but with that comes the reality that sometimes what we put out there will not resonate with the bloggers who happen to be in our bubble at that moment…

    i need another drink. it’s after 2 am, and my bottle of gin is dangerously low…

    keep writing, annie. great post.

  4. I operate my “daily reads” in much the same way that Alicia mentioned. several months ago I changed it from “blogroll” to “daily reads” as that reflects its purpose for me, I visit each of those links every day. it’s self limiting too, I only have 25 names on it at any one time because that’s all I can manage to visit.

    so if I add someone new, one of the old names has to go. it doesn’t mean I stop reading their blog, I just don’t undertake to do it every day.

    this is a great post annie, very thought provoking

    xx

  5. Just found you via your comment on PunditMom’s Edwards post. I am so impressed with your writing and thoughs.

    I am a person who believes in true friendships. Not convenient or easy friends, just the real, down to the core kind of friends. I take the snubs and exclusions personally as well.

    I think it is expecially hard with the detached nature of online friends since you can simply click a button and friend or unfriend someone. It makes me wonder at times why? And I’m sure in most cases there has never been a secon thought given to the action.

  6. Alicia, ultimately this is my issue as I try to parse it out in the piece. I don’t attribute personal reasons to additions or deletions unless there is history built. Rob points out many of my links because I focus so much on the writing and the linking within writing posts that I often miss blogrolls. And because I do miss them, I neglect my own until I realize it is not serving the function – pointing out other relevant sites or highlighting people who write and want to be read. The whole things is strange, I agree, but it is also me.

    Shonda, the social sites are incomprehensible to me. Like an episode from Web High or something.

    UK, it is, isn’t it. Little gems like that are why I write because I hope to inspire or make someone pause and think in a way like that someday.

    Marsha, cybering is a different reality and as I have often read on message boards – not for the faint of heart – which is ironic since it is a medium which attracts the faint-hearted. I will look for you on Facebook. Thanks:)

    Thanks all for commenting. I learn a lot from you guys.

  7. “Some people are not meant to travel the entire journey but simply share roads – some major, some secondary and some will be the meandering little stretches of trail that give us time and opportunity to really connect.”

    This really has made me think. It makes real sense. Some folks just aren’t meant to travel with us.

    As for cyber relationships, they come with their own set of social issues. Sometimes we feel it is safer to connect over the internet because there is not a physical commitment (no coffee dates, need to get together etc..)yet these relationship require a thicker skin because when they end–there is still the feeling of rejection.

    Great post.
    M

    BTW–you can be my Facebook Friend, just look up my first name with a hyphenate last name—LOL

  8. I honestly don’t even know whose blogs link to mine.

    I’ve added and removed folks from my link list without explaining either action. I periodically go through and purge the ones that haven’t been active and add new ones that I’ve found. It’s been a while since I’ve done either.

    I know that I’ve hurt folks both by failing to add links and removing links, and I really don’t know what to do about that. Part of me doesn’t care: It’s a little thing in the Grand Scheme; it’s My Blog and I’ll do what I want; Get Over It. And part of me hates to hurt folks, but my reasons for adding/not adding/dropping/whatever are often irrational, and therefore unexplainable.

    Very strange indeed.

  9. Girl, the whole PM thing on the board bugged me to no end. It was a way for people who were inclined to drama to act out in very teenaged ways. It’s hard to have back and forth discussion with someone who probably doesn’t even do that in person.

    Sally, I get what you are saying and I know I have caused hurt feelings online. Leaving the board was hard though due to the circumstances and because I did like interacting with newbies and trying to keep the more damaging messages they got in perspective. Thanks for your understanding and support.

    The Facebook thing was probably someone who left the network. But the unlinkings – one of them at least – was meant as a slap. Again, I really wish I could be less thin skinned and not care but then what kind of a person would I be? I guess I admire people who can acknowledge but see it for what it is – if that makes sense.

    Sigh, I don’t like it when my inner fat girl gets worked up enough to peek out.

  10. I hear you on this, and my struggles with insecurity and poor self-esteem are also insidious, although focused slightly differently.

    Was it hard for you to leave the board? My impression was that it was not; that if anything, it was overdue in your mind. It is perhaps possible that your leaving was painful to someone else, as yet unknown, who may have taken your actions personally. But, your actions were for you and for the safety, comfort and benefit of you and your loved ones, and really had nothing else to do with anyone on the board, at least not as far as intending to cause them pain (I think). So, is it possible that being “unfriended” was actually similar? That someone is just making changes and that you are just “collateral damage” as it were?

    ‘Course, none of this “preaching” addresses the fact that it doesn’t roll off your back, nor the fact that it bothers you that it doesn’t. Wish I had a magic solution for that. Anything hinting at disapproval anywhere in my vicinity gets me every time, regardless of its accuracy.

    Truly, I’m trying to say that I understand, and I sympathize, and that I want you not to take it personally, ’cause you’re better than that. I’m also trying to say that she doesn’t matter. Someone said something very helpful when my brother died, when the papers were trying to paint him as a lout: those who matter don’t care (about slander, gossip or other ugliness), and those who care (about slander, gossip or other ugliness) truly don’t matter. This is true here, If someone is not interested in knowing you truly, then they are not worth letting get under your skin.

    Okay, enough rambling. How ’bout if I offer my support, friendship and loyalty, as unconditionally as I can manage, and leave it at that?

  11. I can relate. I think it bothers me because, despite the anonymity of my name, I treat people in cyberspace like I’d treat people anywhere. Maybe the jerks do, too, actually. But I really don’t make a distinction between “online” and “real life” friends. Everyone I talk to online is real, and some of them have been friends of mine for years now.

    I was put on “ignore” yesterday by someone I’d sent a PM to at the widow board gently (and I mean it) expressing some concern about an OT post that was not in line with the board mission or her own. She sent me a PM back asking me a question, and then put me on ignore. It bugged me all day, mostly because of the injustice and frustration of it. There was no call for that kind of reaction.

  12. Lost resonance. You’re right. I guess there is no easy way to say that and the medium’s only recourse is simply a purge of the roll.

    What I hate most is that it matters to me. I wish I could be more like the people who simply “delete” and walk away.

  13. for all the anonymity of the internet, we sure do take it personally… i don’t maintain a social network site, partly because i’m a bit sensitive to those things as well.

    in “real life” i’ve recently been dumped by a gentleman who was a “buddy” (ahem). he was sweet, fun, and considerate – but there was no emotional/intellectual spark. so why was i hurt when he stopped calling?

    if i’m ever going to get ‘out there’ with the ol’ internet dating, then i better toughen up – and get used to being dissed by men i wasn’t particularly interested in from the start…

    the key thing with ‘friending’ and blogrolling is that resonance thing. it is certainly not a rejection of “you”… perhaps just an indication of lost resonance…

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