One of the exciting things about Facebook is the ability to connect with a variety of people from one’s past and present at different levels even from a distance. Some of these friendships may be more agreeable, others not so much. Yet because of some common connection, be it a period in life, an interest or a common friend, we chose to label these people as ‘friends’ and share snippets of our lives with them and engage with their snippets in some form.
What happens to these friendships that are not so agreeable when those parts of our lives that conflict with one another become more apparent either through direct conversation or just the very presence of those snippets? I have just finished sending a very courteous message to an old Facebook friend who I realised deleted me recently asking what prompted her to take this action- I’m curious, really! We’d had some, I felt, decent dialogues about some political and religious statements made via Facebook but we always came to an amiable agree-to-disagree conclusion or we were able to see some kind of good in what one another was saying. We never did diss each other or get into a nasty fight. But clearly something occurred that has put her off of me.
It’s made me think about the way that children engage in conflict. Oftentimes they take the route of ‘silent treatment’ or just avow themselves to no longer being friends whether that fact is communicated clearly or not. I wonder if Facebook is cultivating this approach to conflict and relational breakdown as well? I think there’s a difference in culling one’s friend list due to inactivity or indifference, but to have someone leave others on their list who are just as distant but more ‘agreeable’ just drop you seems to be a different case altogether. Will we in the future find that this impacts the way we deal with (or perhaps don’t deal with but just move on from) conflict? Will this effect the relationships we choose to carry on (‘I agree with your politics’ or ‘You don’t say much that ruffles my feathers’), making our ‘networks’ even more homogeneous?
Food for thought.