Unfriending Unfoeing

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Lately I’ve been going through some stuff. My personal life is in an upheaval of mammoth proportions. The ground is shaky beneath my feet, the sands shifting under toe while I try and maintain a balance that I’m not sure I ever really felt. The modern world is a fast paced and intruding place. Information flies at the stroke of a key, it is impersonal at best and obscure at worst, feeding our lives with false perceptions of the outside world. For those of us that are isolated, either by geography or circumstance or our own design or a globulous combination of them all, it can be a wonderful opportunity to step out of our lives and taste attachments, friendships, family. It can also be very damaging place to interact with others.

The truth is that we don’t see what is on the other side of the screen. We do not really know what that person who is commenting on our photos or replying to our blog posts really feels or thinks about us. All we have is their words without even the luxury of reading facial cues or picking up on tones. All those little things that tell us if the other person is being sincere, genuinely interested, sarcastic, angry or mocking.

Facebook is a huge deterrent for me. I am isolated and very literally go for weeks without speaking to another adult other than my husband. The only adult interaction I get otherwise is through Facebook. I have close to two hundred friends, many of them I don’t know in “real life”, I have never heard their voice, don’t know their cat’s name or even know if the name they display is really their own. I have connections to people that do not know those things about me.

For the most part my interaction has been pleasant. I post things that are important to me, funny things the kids say, photos of our vacation and a handful of acquaintances reply with positive things.  But what about the others? What about the ones that seem to want to deter me? That have very little positive to contribute? That feel the need to nit pick information I find useful and repost? That comment under the guise of being “supporting” but their words stab at you underhandedly?

We all probably have those, I think. The people we restrict because they are SO damn adamant about a particular topic and you realize that you just can’t hear another word about it because you will never change. The ones that say they’ll pray for you when you ask for help moving. The ones that remind you how bad they have it every time you make the smallest gripe. Or the ones that just ignore you when you have an accomplishment you’re proud of.

And you know they’re online because the little green dot hangs next to their name but they don’t respond. Or they tell you they can’t figure out how to send you a message while PM’ing your spouse. Or tell you they can’t visit you in real life because of whatever Very Important Reason and then you see then tagged in someone elses photos at the beach.

Is it better to be ignorant? Before Facebook I didn’t know any of these things. I was blissfully ignorant I suppose, of these facts. That my place in their world because I wasn’t constantly in it. Contact was established the old fashioned way, by a telephone call or a happenstance meet up at Target. I saw only what I was physically present for and meanings were never misconstrued because I could read body language and voice cues.

Or is it better to know? To understand where you truly stand in a relationship? To hear the lip service and be able to recognize it as bullshit?

And when we know these things, that our place of importance in someone’s life, where we thought we stood on solid ground, is really us straddling a tectonic plate and we start to feel the vibrations of unsteadiness do we remain in these “friendships”? Why do we not unfriend the people that drag us down? Are we afraid of retribution? I am fairly certain each of my Friends is Friends with at least one other person on my list. If I unfriended them would I lose more friends because of it? What does that friend list really mean? Would those people help me if I fell, would they encourage me if I was sad? Or share in my joy when I had an accomplishment?

Many would not. They wouldn’t spare the characters on the screen to tell me “good job” or “keep your head up” or whatever social comfort I was looking for by posting my status updates. We all have these hangers-on in our lives why do we keep them? Those that show no interest, that never comment or post are easy to forget about. What does remaining “friends” with them accomplish? Are we secretly holding out the hope that that one best friendship we had in middle school will blossom again twenty years later? Are we doing it out of misplaced loyalty?

The journey through life is meant to be traveled through there are relationships and attachments that we make in life that serve their purpose and we are meant to leave them behind. They serve us no purpose; to remain clinging to something that has passed. That is the nature of life, for people to flow in and out of it taking things with them and leaving things behind, washing away and filling up again, smoothing out the rough places, wearing down the excess. I believe that people are placed in our lives for however long they are needed and then the Universe ebbs them back. They leave their mark and take with them things we need to leave behind, but one lingering question, in this digital, connected world in which we live is this

How will our lives change if we are never allowed to let go?

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About C.M. Cipriani

Crystal is a thirty-something mom of five. Super overachiever, bookworm, fabric hoarder, homeschool teacher, wife, gardener, and writer all while trying hard not to be a short-order cook.

18 responses »

  1. Facebook is a fickle place, full of fickle people. If it wasn’t for the groups I wouldn’t hang around. I’m one of those who doesn’t know you personally, just from the ROW80 tribe, but I think you are an amazing, strong woman from what I read and wish you all the best – I’m sure I would be glad to be a ‘real’ friend of yours if we were local to each other 🙂

  2. We have to move on, and we have to let go. I don’t like Facebook because of how it makes me feel frozen in high school. I dropped out of high school because I hated it–why would I want to connect with those people now?

    You can never step in the same river again. I think you’re right that people may teach a lesson (good or bad) and then move on. Life changes quickly (I didn’t know at Christmas that I was moving in 6 weeks), and there are very few relationships that follow all the twists and turns.

    I wish you all the best, and I am glad to hear that you are still writing. Take care.

    • I think the hardest part is when those examples I gave of duplicity or unauthenticity (word? is now.) are family, people you are supposed to be able to count on for honesty and genuine caring.

      I’m living and learning, I just don’t really like the lessons right now.

      We’re moving in -2 weeks. I know exactly how you feel. Take care to you too.

  3. Powerful post. I can’t say I really get anything out of Facebook or Twitter, save the “ROW Tribe”. It certainly makes me take an honest look at my friendships, both offline and online. Don’t be afraid to let go. Be you. Sorry to see you go but I really do hope things work out for the best. 🙂

    • I’m not going anywhere, just not restricting myself to ROW80 right now. I just can’t give it the energy that it deserves. I will still write on here when I feel there is something worth sharing. Thanks.

  4. I can’t “like this post, Crystal, because there is so much pain in it, the sheer idea seems cruel. But I can ask that you try to stay in touch where you can, even if it’s making a post here occasionally, just so we know you are okay, just because even…

    Maybe it’s for us, for our own (my own even) peace of mind to know that you are feeling better–I don’t know. But I would like to know that you are feeling better. I would like to know that even if our online friends aren’t spending time together in a cafe or talking at the playground while our kids play, that the people we meet online are just as human and flawed as we are, and that the slights that occur are less out of intention to hurt but not knowing how to protect.

    Does that make any sense? (I’m afraid I started to babble at the end)

    • Yes, I will still be writing and posting here when I find things to muse about or share. Yes, they are flawed, I don’t believe that anyone is perfect, but I’m thinking more of constants, things that we put up with for years or months that are damaging to us in some way or just serve no purpose. Mistakes can be made, I am not flawless but the blatant disrespect or unconcern are what bother me the most.

      as I said above, especially when they are your family.

  5. Sometimes I wonder many of these same things and then I usually turn it around to “meh, who cares”. Depends on my mood. I am pretty clear on which lucky folks (wink, wink) are my serious friends and the rest are just people I know. I try to take it all in stride and not read anything into people’s FB interaction, although sometimes I get all bitchy and moody and nitpick, just like anybody else. Is it hard to see your friends in pics out to an event you were not invited to? Yes, sometimes, but then I don’t invite everybody to everything I do either, so I have to remind myself of that before I get my feelings hurt. The more people you know and spend time with, the more likely you are to wind up in some kind of ‘trouble’ with one or more of them on facebook. You’re a pretty impressive person, C., and maybe that intimates some people. But that’s on them, not you. You are honest and real and awesome and that’s about the best anybody can do. I hope you will find some great women to interact with in person once you get moved. It’s good to have that core group of women for support, offering hugs, smiles, tears and the other important stuff you just can’t get online. I learned a lot about who my friends were when my life turned upside down a few years ago. Perhaps you are coming into this same phase of life. While I had a hard time letting go of some people initially, it ended up being the best thing that every happened to me, allowing me to discover new, far more rewarding relationships. I have the best network of amazing women that I’ve ever had and it’s growing every day. I only wish you were here to be part of it in person. ❤

  6. I had the same Facebook thought chain a few months ago, and I cut them all off…I shaved my friend list from 250+ to less than 100. I find I waste far less time on FB, and the ones I do still connect with matter. And I matter to them. It sounds like you have a giant stack of life on your shoulders – take care until you return.

    And I didn’t see any Diet Pepsi add. I’ve never seen an ad on your site.

  7. I rarely get on FB anymore. I get so tired of the Farmville requests and such. And, really, the only people I interact with are people I know well, like my kids. LOL. But I understand what you mean. With FB, you can see what people are up to and can sometimes tell when they’ve not been honest with you. I would say, if it’s causing your stress or grief to see the statuses of some of these people, unfriend them. Who cares what someone else might say? If someone else unfriends you because of who you unfriend, then they didn’t need to be on your friends list to start with. One time, this person got mad at this other person and went through and unfriended everyone they knew who was close to the person they were mad at…including me. I had done nothing to this person except that I happened to be friends with someone. I don’t get in the middle of other people’s little spats and I was offended that I was unfriended because of someone else’s silliness. So I say don’t worry about petty people, or selfish people, or people who will lie to you. Forget them. Stick with the people you can trust, the people who love you. I think there would be a lot less stress. 🙂

  8. I meant what I said, Crystal. This guy and his Silverado pickup are ready to help you any time, any way you need it. For real. In person. In the flesh. Friend to friend. You are a great person, and your children are equally wonderful. I don’t have much money, but my time and my truck are yours whenever you need the help.

    Don’t clutter your mind with thoughts of all those other folks out there. You KNOW who your friends are; no point in obsessing over it. Point yourself in the direction you want to go, and your true friends will be there to make sure the wind is at your back. As for the rest, forget about them. Even family falls away sometimes, and there’s nothing you can do about it but be disappointed, and then move on.

    Fall asleep tonight thinking about your REAL friends…and your super children…and when you wake up tomorrow, don’t look back. Grab ahold of the future you want, and try to make it come true. Good luck, and good night!

    Terry

  9. Facebook is not life. Just a glorified view of my life. I have 600+ friends on fb. People I have met and interacted in the last 30 years. But, I am not the same person they knew. I don’t know them anymore. Slowly, I am moving away at from it too. The strength to face whatever life offers us is within us. Whatever we need to happy in life is within us too. The digital world takes us away from our selves.

    I read about what your are having to grow through at ROW80. I’ll pray for you.

    Peace and love,

    Gunjan

  10. I have realized that DNA does not always equal family. And that I prefer to interact with people who delight, inspire, and challenge me, and who find value in my companionship.

    My cat’s name is Margot – she came with that name. She’s a ginger and white Manx, and we adopted her 5 years ago, via Freecycle.

    Shan Jeniah is the name I have given myself, to claim my self. I dropped a “non”, and took my main protagonist’s name – she is untamed and elemental, unabashedly, where I tend to still get too carried away in myself and the world, and lose track of my animal nature….

    I’ve written several times on this same topic…..here’s an excerpt from one your post reminded me of…maybe there’ll be something of value to you, in there…..

    ~~~
    OCT
    3
    Ebb and Flow

    I used to start each day with an impossible-to-complete to-do list. I used to wake with the focus on what I hadn’t accomplished the day, week, month, or year before. Each day was begun with a sense of deficit.

    I used to spend hours each day on the telephone, bemoaning the particular circumstances of my life, my lacks. I spent a vast amount of time and energy on relationships which were little more than codependent proppings-up of egos, expressions of mutual long-buried, never-healed scars…what I wanted from these relationships was seldom what I got from them…and I always assumed it was up to me to make the other provide what I needed.

    I was battling my way upstream in floodwaters, trying to climb Niagara Falls, so to speak. There was lightning, and a huge hole in my tiny little raft.

    I might have kept on like that forever, muscles screaming for rest, soul demanding solace, if my raft hadn’t shattered on a huge jagged rock, and disintegrated beneath me, leaving me alone to find my way.

    Okay, I was playing with imagery above. Often, that’s how I first come to understand my inner life – through images.

    The rock that demolished life-as-we-knew-it was Elijah, our second son, who lived only 12 days of 2003, but whose presence has changed everything…. we went, in that short span of days, from eagerly awaiting the birth of our healthy baby through shock and hope and fear and sorrow…and, somehow, before he died, we found acceptance.

    Everything changed. And that is our blessing, as a family; that we were shaken out of one way of being and were forced to find another.

    Nothing outside of us could help. All the answers needed to come from within ourselves.

    And so began our journey, very slowly, almost imperceptibly. As a family unit, and as individuals, we began to look into our souls, and bit by bit, things began to change. Small things at first. Surface things…a better diet, more exercise, more attention. The surface had been scratched, and a faint glow was visible far beneath…

    There have been times when it seemed nothing was changing, that all had grown still and silent. but the quiet was deceiving. Those were the times when things were gathering, building, ordering themselves….then would come a surge of new exploration, a hunger for new knowledge, new perceptions, deeper ways of seeing, and of being.

    Always, after these quiet times, the inward surge of new input, would come the deepest rest. I can feel it, now, when it comes…I am like a twig, gently circling the outer edge of a small whirlpool. The journey seems aimless, but I can feel the pull toward the center. If I can remain still, neither trying to resist the impending journey into the vortex, nor attempting to hurry the trip, I am eventually carried closer and closer – and, once I swirl into the heart of the vortex, I enter another pool beneath, deeper still…

    Life ebbs, and it flows. We have absorbed it into ourselves, now, given up all those unnecessary worldly concerns and beginning to simply bob along effortlessly, carried on the flows and resting in the ebbs, gathering strength for the next surge…

    Some thingshave needed to be discarded, to live the ebbs and flows of our lives. We’ve given up being a dual-income family, so that I can be home and fully focused on the raising of our children. Unschooling well means paying attention. Paying attention when your children speak; answering their many, many, many daily questions; keeping food available not by the clock but by when people are likely to be hungry; noticing when a child is getting tired, or bored, or frustrated, or angry, and knowing what to do for each of these, and doing it before they become more than the child can handle; knowing what fascinates them, and using that to provide them a life rich with what they already love, and liberally seasoned with new experiences which might spark new passions; knowing when to help and when to step back; when to be busy and when to be still…

    When a relationship no longer feeds the joy in life, when to step back, redefine it in new terms…

    Or simply let it go.

    I’ve been considering that a lot, in the past few years. Actually, when I think back, it’s been much longer. The earlier years were spent mostly in understanding how I tended to attract a very specific type of extraordinarily needy people, and disentangling those to whom I was not related or deeply attached to.

    But with Elijah’s death came the awareness that we were not free, amongst certain family members, to express our grief or make any casual mention of him. There would follow a coldness and tension that was palpable, as though we’d woken the tiger they’d left sleeping in the middle of the room. It took some time for that awareness to become realization that I could not live without being able to speak about all three of my children, that I was not willing to only be the mother of my living children, and allow the one who died to simply fade into family lore, as an odd curiosity in a family where no one else’s baby has died.

    It took a while longer to gather the courage to begin to shift away from the types of gatherings that caused the most stress, to begin to redefine for myself what I was willing to give, and to stop expecting what the other did not have to share.

    In the months since we truly began to understand the beauty and freedom of an unschooling life, to honor our children and place our family at the heart of our life, I’ve become strong. Strong, and mostly fearless. I’ve come, finally, to the place where I am certain of myself, my husband, my children, and of the life we are living. As a friend put it, derisively, I am “so utterly certain” that I would risk every friendship I had if that was what was needed to ensure the joy and peace we’ve found in this life, the delight we have each and every day because we’ve chosen to commit ourselves to this life.

    A relationship that cannot sustain one’s chosen life cannot survive. At least, not in its current form. If it cannot change, flow, move in tune with the lives it encompasses, it will die. Because a relationship is not an entity of its own. It is nothing but the people who are relating to each other.

    But people tend to get stuck in relationships as static, rigid things in which each participant has a role to play, and, if they don’t, they’re breaking the code or contract of the relationship. i’ve been called, in recent years, haughty, arrogant, grim, defeatist, ad several other things…for no other reason than that I changed, and could no longer maintain the status quo of those rigid relationships. That seems to be hugely threatening to those who focus more on the “Relationship” than on the human they’re relating to. ~~~

    (the whole post is at http://memismommy.blogspot.com/2009/10/ebb-and-flow.html )

    I wish you peace, and joy, and self-acceptance. And, whether you’ve met us or not, in “real life” the certainty that there are people who care about you – your challenges, your successes, and the in-between, too…..

    It’s traumatic, when you realize that some of the relationships you assumed were solid and mutual aren’t. It was helpful for me to realize how very many of us have been wounded in our lives, and that I was expecting things these wounded people cannot give.

    It isn’t about you,,,,,,it’s something within them that isn’t joyful, and so begrudges you joy, and considers your anguish just the way life is.

    I’ll be holding you close to my heart, as you make this transition.

  11. Be brave, be strong and hit that unfriend button. They aren’t your friends if they make you feel bad in anyway. Friends will be honest with you, and while their honesty might hurt you will always be able to see the genuine love and respect behind their comments. If there is no love and respect they are not your friends. Keep your chin up 🙂

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