Oh Facebook … Connections and Cut Offs Via Social Media

Social Media can be a gift and a curse. No matter how you use it, there is always some way for it to bite you in the arse. It all starts out beautifully. You only see it as a way to communicate and connect. Soon it's a problem. Well it can be a different problem for everyone and I'll get into that. Just know that social media is a window. All of your online activity is just a window. You have the ability to look out and see other things but your personal online identity is on the other side. You are vulnerable when that thing is open. Not everyone should be privy to that space. Someone may come inside, you could get hit with a rock, rained on or the ultimate burn - a bird could poop on you. Just be aware that the window goes both ways and not everyone is who you think they are and vice versa.

People can and will assume your online identity, the people you connect with and their views are your own. Technically, whatever you say or do is your own. Where it gets hazy is your online activity can dictate the worth and value of real relationships you hold in real life. Facebook is the great social experimentation - it shows how people portray or value their real life relationships. Problem #1 There are people who use it to collect nonexistent friends versus connect with actual ones. Problem #2 Some people neglect existing relationships to carry out a different persona online. Problem #3 Some blur the lines and take everything said virtually to heart. Those are the kinds that never practice what they preach. So it's not unusual for social media to destroy a perfectly acceptable person and someone or everyone close to them. 

I originally had Facebook as an entitled and active college student. That is what Facebook was for! It was designed for the online social interaction of current student bodies. It wasn't for your parents, your co-workers, your favorite celebrities and everyone else you just so happened to meet. It was honestly a way to show and praise collegiate involvement. It wasn't about reputation or association. I kept my college Facebook active for a little under a year. What I experienced is the dilution of friendships I thought I really had and then the personal attack on me when I expressed my concern. The person standing in front me was always online digging and reacting to things that could have been addressed face to face. So I deleted it and I didn't miss anything about it. When I approached Facebook again it was open to everyone. You no longer had to be an active student. You could interact with anyone that opened an account. You could also add whoever you wanted to your online roster of friends. Most people transitioned their friends from other social media platforms and began to engage with them in multiple virtual places. I chose not to do this. By then I did have pretty much every other form of social media but I kept my relationships separate on all of them. I never wanted to blur those lines and I remain true to that today.

So… theres Twitter, Instagram blah, blah, blah but they typically don't do much harm when you're out of high school and not a celebrity

Yet the devil of social media - Mr. Facebook - requires rules - here are my rules...
  • I don't add everyone I meet 
  • I don't add people that will promote or preach on my timeline 
  • I don't add authority figures like bosses or professors/instructors (I typically block them)
  • I don't add family or close friends of family
  • I delete and or block people I no longer engage with in real life 
  • I delete and or block people who left my employer with "issues"

Latest rule and most important rule of all

  • Don't judge people by their statuses or posts - address whatever it is in person and allow their reaction to be the basis for your response*
The last rule only applies to people I deem important to me. If this person is of value to me in waking life I owe it to them to inform them of what I don't like. If their reaction to my request goes left then I can delete or block them - online …. and in real life. Sorry but not sorry. The reality is I am me, one physical person and I refuse to expose myself to those who are many virtual personalities in one. If I have met you, known you - then I will interact with you online. The only people I don't know are celebrities, artists, authors and mutual friends I choose to engage with. Now if and when you show me another side of yourself I am blocking your accessibility to me - online and in real life. I really don't like having to do that so I keep my online and virtual involvement fairly separate. And sadly even this behavior has also bit me in the hind part.

The majority of my Facebook friends are former co-workers of mine. I worked at a company for nearly eight years. I know these people. I trust them. We go to each others homes. We were there beyond coffee breaks and birthdays. So I am okay with interacting with them online. However, I never added new hires, upper management or people who left the company without explanation. I block the majority of those people so they cannot view my content or interact with me. My childhood friends barely use their accounts. I have a sister on there who doesn't use hers either. Frankly, I have nothing to worry about. I don't concern myself with uncensored posts, tags etc because there is no one on my page that will judge me for it. My mother is not going to view my posts. My boss is not going to view my posts. The only people that see the content are those I know and people I have invited to see it. These are people I assume will get my content and posts and that goes both ways.

My main problem though is I will know someone for years. People I have shared life events with. I have gone to your wedding. I have watched you have children. I have ate lunch with you every other day for five years straight. Yet you have never voiced your personal opinions with me or anyone. Then you go online, usually on Facebook and voice that opinion. I may not agree with it. It could be abrupt. It could be contradicting to our relationship. In that instance I don't feel the need to personally attack you via social media and I also don't feel the need to question you when we are eating lunch again. If you put something up that I don't agree with it, its offensive and or is in poor taste - I will remove the content from my view. If you do it again, I will delete you so I never have to interact with you online. I don't have to tell you why or when or what - because you aren't telling me this in the break room. This has to be some facet of you I don't get to see. This is your online identity. It must be. So I'll just choose to ignore it.

When I was abroad Facebook was my only reliable source of communication. It allowed me to have conversations with people, keep up on current affairs and stay abreast of things affecting people I would normally see on a regular basis. Within a month of travel the Trayvon Martin case went to trial. There was a lot of stuff in the news about it and peoples reaction was all over Facebook. It became hard to ignore and then it trickled down to every type of social media there was. It was even on the world news while I was in Paris. So there was no way in avoiding the trial and peoples commentary negative or positive. This wasn't the first big thing to cause people to create content. I'd just endured a rather surprising reaction to the re-election of Barack Obama. The moment that man appeared on television people were making insane comments and statuses. There were silly people who chose not to vote expressing how they felt defeated. There were people I personally knew who were financially irresponsible that debated the economic repercussions of the vote. There were people who just had something ugly to say based on race. I found out a great deal of my friends were not only Republicans but irrational and racists. At that time, I chose to ignore a great deal of it but I did purge about five friends that couldn't shut up for days after the election. What killed me is in real life they were mum about the entire event - at least when in my company.

Overtime, I re-added these individuals and most of them didn't even notice I had deleted them in the first place. Others I decided it was for the best. There was one young lady who had quit the job so I wasn't really remaining in contact with her. There was a guy who seemed harmless but had been posting a lot of radical views online so pretty much all mutual friends deleted him. So when this case appeared it was frustrating to see an entirely new group of friends post similar garbage. At this time I was overseas and I really wanted to focus on being there. It was embarrassing enough being an obvious American with all this turmoil going on in my country - I didn't need to see people bicker about it online on a daily basis. So I deleted a ton of people. In my opinion, I didn't work with them anymore anyways so I wouldn't be missing a thing. If they wanted to interact with me they could call, text or see my photos on Instagram. When I was comfortable with what I did they all went to Instagram with evil memes and nasty subliminals (when people post indirect images and/or messages they should direct to someone in particular). It wasn't like they considered anyones feelings they just continued to post whatever, wherever. It was really disturbing. So much so that we both debated on how to counter this constant flow of negativity. 

My immediate response was to not only delete these people but block them on all social media platforms. I didn't want to view their content anymore and I surely didn't want them interacting with me. Again I thought the majority of these people I no longer work with and oddly enough they must have felt these views when I was there alongside of them. I didn't think it was fair to myself to even attempt to discuss their posts with them. Why should I call them out on things they knew were wrong? Most people have never noticed what I did. They also never stopped posting things. I only know this because other people contacted me and asked my opinion of it. I informed them of what I did and was told I should have informed them as of why. I assumed these people would see I blocked them and attempt to reach out to me and ask why. At that time I would explain what I saw and why I chose that route to disassociate myself from them. However, I couldn't say when or if that would happen - the ball was in their court. I never expected for anyone to know what they did or understand that I could take offense. My thought is the majority of these close-minded individuals don't even recognize the magnitude of their actions. To them its just a post. Just their online identity. 

Hence my problem with Facebook and all social media. It was all a way to keep in touch while abroad and then it became a nightmare. A year later I've only re-added one person. One! The real kicker is the majority of those posters and commenters have never fessed' up to their role in the debacle. Also, a few of them found their own spiteful way to retaliate when they realized what happened. Sadly, I never explained myself to anybody.  So I wonder if they reacted to being blocked or to learning I was offended from someone else? Either way I don't need to associate with people that have the time to create content to offend or the time to research who deleted/blocked them and when. Of course, I could had easily dropped what I was doing, spent my last Orange minutes and called them to complain about their posts. I guess that is what they wanted? In my opinion, people always know right and wrong. Also the phone works both ways and even if I was out of reach via a traditional phone call anyone of these humans could have FaceTimed me and said sorry. To this day not a single person has even brought it up, deleted the content, apologized to anyone etc. All a great lesson in who you think your friends are right!? 

I'll get into more of this, maintaining your online reputation and blogging in a bit…. but for now please stick to my *newly updated rules* for Facebooka. You'll sleep a lot better at night.

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