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We Can Be Friends Without Being Facebook Friends


(Graphic credit: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight)

At least once a week, I invariably have a conversation that goes like this:

My friend: “Jamie is so annoying! She won’t stop posting pseudo-science articles about how coconuts cure cancer. And then she liked all my vacation photos from three years ago. Who does that?”

Me: “Just unfriend her.”

My friend: “I can’t do that! It’ll hurt her feelings!”

I really don’t understand all the tiptoeing around Facebook friendships. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. As a native Philadelphian transplanted to the suburban wilds of Connecticut, Facebook lets me easily keep in touch with my nearest and dearest at a time in my life when my closest family member is a four-hour drive away. I don’t have to miss anyone’s kids growing up, and I can easily arrange dinner, drinks and karaoke when I’m back in town for a visit. But I’ve found that people put up with an amazing amount of BS in the name of Facebook “friends.”

[pullquote]As Roger Murtaugh said in Lethal Weapon, “I’m too old for this shit.”[/pullquote]

A study has shown that scrolling through our newsfeeds can lead to depression, low self-esteem and jealousy because we compare our lives to our friends’ vacations, career accomplishments and crazy-cute kids. But Facebook isn’t real life. You don’t see pictures of the six out of seven days it rained during that vacation. Or the status update that reads, “Just ripped a huge fart in a meeting with the CEO. FML.” Or the post about the demon spawn that got nail polish all over the dress mommy was going to wear out with daddy tonight because WE ONLY GET ONE NIGHT A MONTH WITHOUT THE KIDS GODDAMNIT KAYTELYNNE YOU’RE IN TIME-OUT! We build perfect fantasylands on our Facebook walls with the pictures that really catch the highlights in our hair, or that delicious pizza we made from scratch or the perfect Christmas tree we just decorated.

So why do we let people barge into our happy place and stomp all over it by posting things that make us roll our eyes so hard they pop out of our heads? We willingly tolerate increased blood pressure by getting into useless arguments with people we’d have no problem ignoring if we heard them spouting their mess on a street corner. Or else we bend over backwards making special lists of who can see which posts. All because we don’t think people can deal with being unfriended. As Roger Murtaugh said in Lethal Weapon, “I’m too old for this shit.”

Much like Taylor Swift decorating her New York apartment in exposed wood beams, Karlie Kloss and the adoring tears of the world’s tweens, my Facebook wall is my own little bubble. I get to fill it with puppy videos, shared posts from Lil’ Bub and snarky leftist comments about Donald Trump’s comb-over. I post feminist memes (I’m looking at you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and breathless updates about the upcoming Ab Fab movie. I happily ask if you can spare a couple of bucks for my friend’s book project on Kickstarter, and I know you need to know that David Lee Roth and I share a birthday. But I don’t want to see your pseudo-science articles about how alpaca poop is great for your complexion or your conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s real nationality. (Seriously people, would it kill you to check before you post?) And any sort of racist or classist stupidity will get you an immediate free ride to the unfriend zone.

The best part? I’m not bothered if you get mad at me for unfriending you. Why do you even care? One less person can see a recipe for that rainbow layer cake — so what? Did you really need that “like” on the drunken selfie at your friend’s birthday party? Not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff; it’s just not for me. I’d rather leave more room for fuzzy puppy bellies and updates about mandatory minimum wage legislation. It doesn’t make either of us a bad person. You won’t even notice I’m gone.

This doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. When I see you out and about, I’m perfectly happy to have a nice conversation with you. I’m sure there’s plenty we have in common, differing views on abortion and the correct way to put the toilet paper on the holder notwithstanding. Maybe we work together and you absolutely kick ass at being prepared for our weekly staff meetings. That means more to me than the fact you also like to recap the latest episode of Pretty Little Liars. Maybe your kid stood up for someone being bullied. You’re obviously raising that kid right, and that’s way cooler than your latest Candy Crush score.

Because out here in the real world is where I live, where life is messy and sometimes I have to eat a little shit just to get though the day. Facebook is a fun diversion I get to curate and know that, at least for the time it takes to read my newsfeed, no one’s going to harsh my mellow. It’s a playground where I can look at Chris Pratt without his shirt on, laugh at Buzzfeed’s list of Top 23 Times an Alligator Looked Like George Clooney and snark on the Patriarchy. I absolutely realize that this may make YOU unfriend ME. I promise I won’t take it personally.

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