During one of my many whining sessions over the phone with my late mother, she once told me; “You know, I have noticed you are very easily slighted. I can be that way too, but it’s really not a great way to go through life.” She was right. Of course, (I never told her this. Rule number one in the Parent/Child instruction book is “Never admit when they are right.”) I am, and I have always been, hypersensitive and it’s not an endearing quality or a particularly pleasant way to live. Add to this my raging generalized anxiety disorder, my exceptional creativity and a newish technology (social media) for my insecurities to work out with, and we have a recipe for a fairly miserable online existence to couple my everyday fairly miserable existence. Trust me, my many insecurities and various neurosis’ don’t need to work out… they are already jacked like a Gold’s Gym Steroid Queen.
I’m not going to bash Facebook like I did cell phones in a recent post because I use Facebook on a daily basis. FB has been wonderful for reconnecting with old friends and staying in touch with others. It also allows for me to post clever, poignant and funny little one-liners, creating a facade of depth, decency, a soul and many other positive qualities that I pretend to possess.
“Butt-Hurt” is one of my favorite new expressions from the contemporary vernacular. According to another favorite website of mine; Urban Dictionary, Butt-hurt is defined as:
An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the “aggressor.”
Perfect. I think the reason I like this term is because I have spent so much of my life being butt-hurt. Like a pompous hipster asshat, I can honestly say I was into being butt-hurt before it became main stream. I’ve been butt-hurt regularly since 1975 when my grandmother told me I was sitting too close to the TV, watching my neighbor; Mr. Rogers, and that was why I had to wear glasses. (With the dorky strap that would insure that I wouldn’t lose them, but that I would be beaten up regularly at recess.) I was 5 at the time, so this was probably 2 or 3 years before I started using obscenities and threats of physical violence when addressing my grandmother…But I do remember not speaking to her, until she bribed me later that night with rhubarb pie and ice cream. I’m a big fan of using the silent treatment, which is interesting as I really suck at sticking with it. I fold after the second or third, “OK…what’s up?” As I said I capitulated quickly with the offer of the pie. I was cheap then, and come to think of it…. I’m cheap now too.
Facebook nuance and etiquette is a perfect breeding ground for butt-hurt-ed-ness or is it butt-hurtury?. I routinely pout and sulk over my FB friends not responding quickly enough (or at all) to my many inquiries, greetings and salutations. “I wished you a happy birthday 16 minutes ago and you haven’t thanked me….WTF?” What’s worse is that I know they saw what I wrote, because the little messenger thingy confirms with a little “Seen” followed by the time. “What’s the matter? Too busy to type or text “You too” after I wish you a “Happy St Patrick’s Day”? The time feature allows a truly anal retentive and delicate little flower like myself to determine exactly how long they have been ignoring me. Sometimes they respond just as I was settling into a nice juicy sulk, and I almost resent this. Nothing worse than having one’s butt-hurt interrupted or…um healed? Is that the opposite? Butt-healed? Well if it isn’t, it should be…that’s a great expression too. Remember, if it isn’t an expression yet, you read it here first.
So there is that little nuance of FB. Sending messages on FB is communicating, but it’s a very different type of communication. One cannot just stop talking during a phone conversation. (Like I used to with certain exceptionally long winded family members. For example, If my grandmother started talking about how Aunt Miggie’s piles were giving her trouble lately, I knew I had a 20 minute lapse in our conversation window where I could quietly put down the phone, make a sandwich, trim my toenails or do a crossword puzzle before I had to pick the phone back up and say “Yeah, that must be terrible.” and pretend I had been listening the entire time. I just wonder if other people who are more well-adjusted than I (you know like, pretty much everyone) get upset by this. I hope so. I don’t like being the only neurotic on FB.
Another thing I wonder about in regards to FB is “de-friending” someone. To begin with “De-Friending” sounds frighteningly Orwellian.
“What’s wrong Scott? You look really down.”
“I was just de-friended.”
“Who was it?”
“Jimmy from high school?”
“No, we aren’t Facebook friends.”
“Jimmy from the Starbucks in Union Square?”
“No, Jimmy from the bar.”
“Do I know him?”
“I don’t know,”
“Um, you want a hug or something?”
FB doesn’t tell you that you’ve been de-friended and I think most people aren’t aware of a de-friending right away, unless it is someone you correspond with regularly. I wonder if the executives and developers at FB ever had some kind of butt-hurt management seminar to avoid these kinds of situations. I mean it certainly wouldn’t do to have flashing lights and Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Good Bye by Steam playing when you sign on to FB after a de-friending. (Although in a warped way, that would be kind of cool) De-friending on FB is a little like de-friending in real life in that these people sometimes just phase out of our lives. I tried to find some friends who had suffered from a major de-friend fallout when researching this piece, but no one owned up to having had one. I’m sure it happens. Although the experience probably lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. When a friendship, FB or otherwise, ends, there should be some interesting and dramatic fallout…. some yelling followed by an “I want my Ken Burns Civil War DVDs and my ABBA CD’s back!!!” It’s just not the same, to hover your mouse over the “Friends” box and click them out of your life.
“Oh Screw you, ya creep!”
“Screw Me??? Screw Me?”
“Well, if that’s how you feel!”
“Let’s see…here it is…’friends’ … (CLICK) “Well, I certainly told her!”
At this rate, in the next 10 years we will all be breaking up, divorcing, getting fired and colonoscopy results via a swift click of the mouse
(RING) “Excuse me I need to take this….Hello? I see…OK Thanks. Bye.”
“Who was that?”
“My wife…she’s leaving me and running off with our pool-boy; CoCo.”
I admit I have gone on FB purges that would have made Wacky Joe Stalin proud. I have this weird notion that people with over 300 “friends” on any social media site are highly suspect. So occasionally I go through my FB friends and just drop the people I never speak to. What’s really strange about this is that I almost always find a “friend” or three whom I don’t even recall becoming FB buds with. I don’t worry about this too much. These things can happen when one has been known to drink to excess. To date, no one has reached out to appeal a de-friend ruling I have made. Maybe it’s a question of pride. Personally, I would be crushed upon discovering that I had become the victim of a de-friending. Even if it was one of the friends I don’t remember as we became friends while drinking to excess.
Sometimes we need to ponder a de-friending. I recently cut my cousin off after serious consideration. He had been posting political rhetoric nonsense on an hourly basis. For the most part I laughed it off, or pointed out where he was wrong. The final straw was when he posted that we need to teach the bible, morality and handgun training in schools. Yeah. There’s a real “What would Jesus do” philosophy. Sorry Cuz. I love you, but I don’t want to get interviewed by Anderson Cooper after the FBI and ATF surround your compound.
“What can you tell me about your cousin Scott?”
“Well, he was my favorite cousin growing up. We played Star Wars and tormented his sister a great deal.”
“Were you Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?”
“I was always Luke Skywalker.”
“That sucks. We had a gay kid in my neighborhood growing up…a boy who didn’t mind being Princess Leia.”
“Hey, we had one of those…we also got a tall wino to play Chewbacca.”
“How did you feel about being Luke Skywalker?”
“Well, it kinda sucked, Anderson. But, I was the blond cousin and he owned a vest, so it seemed a logical conclusion. But, of course, Han is much cooler.”
“I see on his Facebook page he commented that “The Bible and Handguns should be taught in American grammar schools.”
“Yes, sadly that was when I defriended him.”
“Do you think he’s dressed up like Han Solo in his compound?”
This raises another issue and kindles a small fire of insecurity. When you de-friend someone, and they don’t reach out for an explanation, do you begin to wonder if they really give a rat’s ass? How dare this person whom you have no further interest in interacting with not flip out when they discover your little social nugget of rejection. I have to say, upon further reflection, it must be rough being a junior or senior high school student during the Facebook era. Back when I was an adolescent (an actual adolescent and not the 42 year old I am today with an adolescent’s mentality) we had to go to the mall for rejection that was more up close and personal. It was the 80s and things were tougher back then. Speaking of junior and senior high school, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be a young student during the Facebook era. Kids today are really proficient with computers and I shudder to think of the cyber bullying potential. It’s interesting that I have reconnected with lots of people from high school that I frankly never interacted with back then. As adults they say nice things to me “You always cracked me up.” No I didn’t. I wasn’t that funny. In fact, you never spoke to me in high school. Sadly, I can understand why adolescents are committing suicide as a result of cyber and Facebook bullying. Just thinking about what complete and utter bastards my friends and I were in high school. I could easily see us creating fictitious Facebook pages for classmates I didn’t care for. “Hey, 266 people like the “Jerome’s a Bum Boy Douchebag” page. I even had a kid I hated from high school try to invite me to his list of friends. I refused, and he tried again. Finally he wrote and asked why I had refused his friendship request and I mentioned that he had stolen my bike in 7th grade and that I am generally pretty enthusiastic in regards to cultivating grudges.
“Hello, I must be going” Is a brilliant Marx Brothers song and routine. It’s also a wonderful description for another FB phenomena. I hope I’m not alone here, but I have at least 5 FB friends who can’t, don’t or wont interact with me for more than 5 minutes without typing “Well, I have to go now.”, “Dinners ready,” or ” I have to pee.” I understand that people need to pee sometimes, or that dinner is occasionally ready, but every time they are chatting with me? I’m dubious. Then it becomes even more awkward because there is no way to ask about your friend’s rate of urination without seeming needy and annoying. Interestingly, a former FB friend once called me those very words. At least she had the class and courage to say this in person to me, which I appreciated and which allowed me to retort using an expletive that women aren’t so crazy about. No, not that one…the other expletive. She asked for it.
In Japanese there is a word; Wa or Wah which is an expression for a collective social harmony. Japan is a relatively small country with a lot of mountainous terrain that isn’t so suitable for habitation and a large population. It can get quite crowded in Japan and ‘Wa’ is the way that people get along through a rather rigid code of behavior and manners. A friend of mine who taught for over a year in Japan told me of a gesture that the Japanese make when they are in a serious rush or find themselves in an urgent situation and simply don’t have the time to say 14,000 sumimasens which is an all-purpose Japanese Wa expression that means “Excuse Me.”, “Thank You.”, “Sorry.” and “Yes, I’m being a rude bastard, but this is an emergency.” This gesture is considered a little rude, yet is still socially acceptable. Probably similar to the charming western custom of farting during a dinner party and then blaming the dog. I must pause here and say, I am a gentleman in these instances and own up…proudly. “Yep, that was me…pass the beans please…Where were we? Oh yes… You were saying handguns, morality and the bible should be taught in grammar schools” So, when a Japanese businessman is in a rush to catch the 3:10 to Kyoto and is in a crowded train station, he will lower his head and place a flattened hand across his forehead (much like Curly from the Three Stooges avoiding a eye gouge from Moe) and plow on through. Everyone understands he’s in a rush.
So, perhaps in the interest of Facebook Wa, maybe we should find a slightly rude but socially acceptable way to get people to stop pestering us with every day minutia or to knock off the “Hello, I must be goings.”
Maybe we should start color coding our friends, or come up with an acronym like LOL when we aren’t in the mood to or can’t chat for long. How about BTD (Busy these days) or CRTN (Cant really talk now) or how about IFWTPBSAE (I’m finished with this piece but suck at endings)
I felt a need to revisit this piece as I have recently experienced some FB and former friend dramedy. I haven’t been able to make my faithful editor laugh in a couple months which is one of the reasons I haven’t posted anything lately.
I had a friend. I say friend in that we had been to each other’s homes, exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts, been to movies and other outings together and were familiar to a degree with each other’s lives. He ran a football pool I have been a member of for 15 plus years. I knew this friend from my former job. When I left the job we didn’t see each other much, but we were still friends via facebook. We got together once or twice after I left the job, but saw significantly less of each other.
He became a classic example of the “Hello, I must be going” type that I mentioned. He was on FB daily, several times a day posting news stories, photos and observations, just like I do. However, I found when I reached out to him he wasn’t particularly friendly or responsive. On several occasions I left our “conversations” feeling like he thought I was a pest. Now I have admitted I am hypersensitive, and certainly online/social media communications often lack context and tone. They’re easily misunderstood, and I’m sure I am guilty of coming across as cold, dismissive or whatever at times…hopefully not too often as I don’t want to be a hurtful or mean person. This friend, we’ll call him “Pete” for the sake of simplicity…Pete would write things like “You need to move on.” or “We’ve discussed this already.”…so yes, suffice to say I felt like a pest whenever I reached out to him. I was a little hurt, and I was a little pissed off too as I went through over a year of Pete’s nonstop lamenting about a love interest who was obviously and plainly not interested.
During Gay Pride month I had posted “Happy Gay Pride To All My LGBT Friends!”. Almost immediately, one of my FB acquaintances took issue with this and corrected me that the correct term is “LGBT Pride”. We had an argument over semantics. I messaged Pete who is gay and whom both he and I had agreed that PC feel good speech has gone way too far and that we are constantly walking on eggshells with what we say. As usual, Pete was a little dismissive. Maybe he didn’t agree with me. Maybe he was busy…I don’t know. But he messaged “Have a good day Scott.” which I took as a dismissal. I responded “Sorry to have bothered you.” and took him off my friends list. It had been awhile in coming. I was tired of feeling like I was an annoyance. He wrote back to me and said “Why did you say that, I was just telling you to have a nice day” I wrote back an explanation that perhaps we’d been misunderstanding each other.
As I said, there are no bells and whistles when a friend is removed from your list. He found out a couple weeks later, and wrote a rather firm parting shot at me. After speaking to my best friend about it, we decided the best response was no response at all.
Still the whole episode was sad and disappointing, and its conclusion was decidedly unsatisfying.