A few weeks ago I accepted a friend request on Facebook from a person I haven’t seen in over 30 years. I hesitated in doing so wondering, do I really want to go there?
However, I did notice he’d become ‘friends’ with a few people I know and like, so against my better judgement I thought why not? I accepted.
My hesitation really got me thinking. Why did I hesitate?
One conclusion I came to may have to do with my age and the pre-internet & Facebook world in which I grew up.
Back then it was normal for some people to melt away out of one’s life. Once one left school, pursued careers, got married, moved away, or whatever, some people were never to be heard from again, and quite frankly in some cases, was that such a bad thing?
However, in today’s social media world it’s a different story. We share photos of our trips, meals, kids, cars, cute animal photos, (gardens mostly in my case), with people, some of which if we were to be completely honest, we wouldn’t cross the street for to say hello.
I think many of us, especially bloggers and writers do have something to say because we honestly want to share knowledge in the hope that it may be of some benefit to others. But is that what we do on Facebook? Is it something else?
There is an insidious side to social media. It isn’t written about nearly enough, especially given the fact that it plays such an important part in millions of people’s lives. When you think about it, social media could be a character in a book.
To further that, I’d be willing to bet (without proof I admit, but with some knowledge of human nature, as I’ve always been keen on what makes people tick) that the majority of people on social media, Facebook in particular, are ‘friends’ with people who they do not actually consider to be a real friend, for whatever reason, be they a boss, a colleague, an in-law, some toxic person from their past, or whatever the case may be.
Sharing one’s life in pictures and posts seems innocuous enough, and it’s great to keep in touch with family or anyone considered a real friend, who lives near or far away.
I can happily state that I’ve made real friends here in cyber space, mainly through blogging, with many people. Without the internet age I’d never have met them & I’m grateful for that.
But there are also those people who are called ‘frenemies’. They’ll never ‘like’ your post or pictures, and may only ‘friends’ out of curiosity, or to keep an eye on what you’re doing if they see you as a rival, or they may need your help with something down the road. I put as much effort in to avoiding people like that as I do Covid.
But that aside, social media and blogging too, has also become a marvellous way to learn about and witness the good in our society.
It has also opened our eyes, especially to an under-belly that hasn’t been exposed, or much up until the last 10 years. We’re much more informed about the many atrocities happening out there, that lets face it, the information that privileged, white-owned, mainstream media doesn’t often divulge.
With that in mind, my post and point of being back in contact with a guy with whom I may have known long ago in our teens seems trivial, but perhaps not.
I mean, Facebook, if you enjoy the absurdities in life like I do, has turned into one never-ending home movie. A lot of people take & offer all kinds of selfies, which when you think about it, is just a sad grab for attention. It’s the classic narcissistic elephant in the room.
Is anyone really interested in seeing someone’s pet rock, new socks, or their pizza dinner? So I have to ask… Did anyone really want to go to someone’s house for dinner (back in the 70’s) knowing the evening would be capped off by watching home movies where someone’s Aunt Mabel is on a trip in the 1950s visiting piles of stones with historic plaques on them?
I doubt it.
As a Gen X, according to people who create these labels, back then, and even before my time, it was the thing to do. However, I remember my parents joking about home movies and how they wished they could make up an excuse to get out of going to one of these evenings. I’m talking about reel-to-reel days, when home movies were a real cliché in society. People like my parents actually lived it and made fun of it.
So, has Facebook become that ‘home movie’ everyone dreads but still reluctantly participates in!? It’s a different age but I’d still argue that the more things change, the more things stay the same.
But in this age, things are a little different when you consider the fact that many are addicted to social media and to attention-getting. Maybe this is in part because perhaps we’re a little afraid of being left out.
And why is that? Is it because people share their newly acquired trinkets online leading others who see them to say, “Gee I wish I had that..”
Is Facebook now the lens through which an acquaintance, or frenemy from long ago, can view us, (or us them), decades later, so egos can feel good about where they ended up, and prove it with pictures smugly showing success?
Not in all cases of course, but it does mean those people who we would have normally have lost touch with in ‘real life’ can now witness how wonderful our lives are, or we can witness theirs, and without them actually being a part of it. Not everyone is like that I know, but we all know some people who are exactly of that mindset.
There are people who really over-share their life online. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I see a lot of this online and it’s called ‘too much information’.
Has Facebook, and Twitter too, also ironically created this selfish society, full of raging people hiding behind keyboards writing viscous things to someone they don’t even know, and who wouldn’t have the courage to say such things to face-to face?
Further to that, isn’t that a big part of the problem in today’s world, this look-at-me selfie society in combination with a lack knowing how to think instead of being told what to think? Just look at the Kardashians for an example. I don’t get it, but millions do.
What I do get is that in many ways social media has created some of those monsters in society, (for example, the people who attacked the Capitol building in Washington), in addition to it becoming a mirror that at the same time reflects them? It has offered up an outlet for those people’s anger and a pipeline for connecting them. That’s some serious irony.
Wise old owl?
But, purely speaking from the perspective of a happily married, middle-aged woman, I may sound a little smug to some, and truly don’t mean to. I have no pretense about myself at the age I’ve been lucky enough to arrive at.
With grey hair & things aren’t that firm any longer, I’ve done/seen things, and have known people in life that have lead me to believe that at this point in the game, I’ve nothing left to prove to anyone except myself.
I’m awfully grateful for these life-lessons, both good and bad. I’m grateful to have a little less ignorance about human nature, with some credit given to social media, not just from narcissists, but from the many people in our society/world who are suffering for so many unjust reasons. A post for another time, and I digress.
All of the above thoughts take me back to that person who requested we be ‘friends’ on Facebook, a few weeks ago. It turns out my original hesitation to accept his invitation was correct. Always go with your gut feeling!
I can’t say for sure if he thought I’ve been waiting around for him these last three decades, but whatever the case may be, he very quickly started sending me messages with innuendos, along with (what I’m going to call) ‘bathroom selfies’.
Bathroom selfies are the kind one takes, (I suppose), in front of the bathroom mirror with one’s cell phone, (which incidentally is something I don’t own), and it’s that photo he chose to send me on Facebook.
In addition to the photo, he wanted me to comment on how good his body still looks! I mean, come on, lol. Some of you are experiencing an eye-roll right now. 😉
Essentially, he was trolling for compliments. What an ego! I found it so absurd and ridiculous on so many levels, especially considering my age that I was glad he couldn’t hear me laugh out loud, which is what I did after being somewhat taken aback by that kind of communication. I mean, talk about cliches!
I should have unfriended him right then and there, but decided to play nice. Here’s a life lesson. Just block them. But I didn’t, so I wrote back, not really believing I could appeal to his better nature but willing to try. It turns out this guy hasn’t changed after all these years & doesn’t have a better nature. Same old same old.
Suffice to say I replied to his silly message stating that I was happily married, and not sure why he sent this, thanks but no thanks, and please don’t send me anymore photos.
That didn’t go over well. He wrote back telling me to get over myself, that I was too high-and-mighty, & who the hell did I think I was? Also, I couldn’t take a joke, yadda yadda yadda. Then he unceremoniously unfriended me, which actually saved me the trouble! 🙂
Pure victim-blaming from a guy who didn’t get the reaction or coddling he wanted.
If I don’t want to view his bathroom selfies or compliment him on them, then there must be something wrong with me, right?
Not exactly a #Me-too moment, (which like many women, I have actually experienced in my life), but certainly this guy with a toxic personality to match, or lack-there-of, hasn’t matured a bit since the 1980s. (Meow is what my Mother would say to that, ha ha).
But, I did however show the photos to my husband, and yes we had a good laugh! Yes, we laughed at that guy’s expense and I don’t feel one bit of remorse, even tho’ I’m actually a nice person, and it was a snarky thing to do. Still, I’m not apologizing for that. 🙂
And, I’m not on this earth to appease some guy from the past’s a fragile sense or over-blown of self. Sorry, not sorry. And like I said, it’s these absurdities where one can find the most humour in life.
These days I’m not on Facebook very often, tho’ I’ve not completely cut the cord because like I said, with family across the pond & a few far-flung friends, I like keeping the lines of communication available. For that end I’ll stay, for now.
In closing, I do hope if anyone out there is reading this, & is wondering whether or not to accept some ‘friend’ request from a person like I’ve just described, listen to your inner voice or gut feeling. Or, if some toxic person is trolling, bullying, or over-sharing, do feel justified to un-friend or even block. Given the opportunity, these people do not add to anyone’s quality of life.
Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, quite nicely, & it certainly suits some on social media, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Take care, everyone! – K.S.