Is Facebook ruining friendships?

It’s not a huge surprise to hear that 25% of divorces cite social networks, like facebook, as the cause for breakups. I mean, give people who are gonna cheat the ability to do so and they’ll eat it up. It’s even understandable to hear about facebook fueled family feuds (say that five times fast). Bringing together different generations and adding daily confessions, rants, or political discussions and there are bound to be disagreements, but the thing that has really shocked me is the way real life friendships are being affected by a website.

It happened to me. I had a friend, we’ll call her Miss A, in real life. We both had kids around the same time. We both were SAHMs with newborns and significant others who worked long hours. We relied on one another quite heavily for sanity’s sake. I accepted our differences hesitantly, since I’m not usually the type to succeed at a long term female relationship. A couple of years went by and she remained a pretty important part of my life. So when she asked me to plan her baby shower, despite the fact that it was a financial sacrifice, I did so, and did a great job at it too. I really thought we were friends.

Miss A is big into blogging, and I was a follower of her family blog. So, when her post about finding a new church sparked my interest, especially since she’d been a devout atheist I immediately forwarded it to Big G. We found ourselves skeptically fascinated about the concept of a church that accepted all faiths. Big G posted his perspective on her blog, questioning the concept, and joking around as he is known to do, but apologetic of his tone the entire time. He really was just interested in learning more. Miss A, however, didn’t appreciate the discussion at all. First she tried to recruit like minded bloggers to respond to the discussion on her site. At which point I tried to calm the waters by clarifying Big G’s post, and adding my own questions into the mix. Then she posted a diatribe of her own, and had her fiancee respond at length too. I thought everything was cool. I mean, Mr. A did claim that Big G’s discussion was inappropriate for the family blog forum, and I was confused that he decided to continue to engage in the conversation anyway, but that’s what the internet is for, right? Blogs in particular, no? We put our opinions out into the world and hope for a conversation. Sure we don’t love it when someone disagrees, or has a little fun at our expense, but we wouldn’t be posting on the world wide web if we weren’t prepared to handle that kind of thing, right?

Well, Miss A didn’t think so. After sending her a personal message through facebook apologizing if Big G’s comments upset her, I saw that she had posted on his facebook wall (yes this was before the timeline thing). What was it that she said? “What the f*ck is your problem.”

I’ll concede that I may have social boundaries that are foreign to some people. For one I think that people should conduct themselves civilly, especially with the family members of their friends. Secondly, I’m not the kind of person that speaks to my own friends that way, so I expect no one speak to me like that. So when I saw this, I immediately comment that this was inappropriate. Of course she’d see that she shouldn’t talk to my hubby that way, right? I mean we were such good friends. She should know this about me, right? Wrong again. Instead of acknowledging the four apologies that had been sent her way, despite the fact that we didn’t actually believe we were in the wrong, she decided to let me know how offended she was that I was “turning things around on her” and I was pissing her off more than helping her cope.

There’s this word to describe my reaction. I think it’s dumfounded. Seriously? I could understand a personal message expressing distaste, or deleting the comment she found to be so upsetting, but cursing him off in a virtually public place and then continuing to engage in the conversation? I couldn’t understand it.

Frankly, I never got the chance to understand, because she never addressed the issue. She avoided it altogether until I couldn’t stomach seeing her posts on my page any longer. I believe in friendship, real friendship. I don’t have a ton of friends, perhaps because I don’t have the time or energy to engage deeply with so many people, but the ones I do have are aware of my gratitude for their presence in my life. So I made the ultimate internet statement. I deleted her. I blocked her. I figured if our friendship was important, she’d call me. She never did. Although I did get a mailed invite to her daughter’s birthday party–which of course we aren’t attending.

I can’t say that facebook is at fault for any of this, but it is sad how it makes disagreements so much easier to occur. My feeling is that the sooner I know a friend isn’t real, the better, but I have to say, I’m much more cautious to bring more people into the fold than before. I hate the idea of bringing someone into Little G’s life, only to have them stripped away because of a status update.

Has this ever happened to you? Tell me your facebook friendship fails.

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