Are you my friend? Or not?

Today I wanted to reflect on something I’m noticing in my social media travels.

Are you my friend?
Are you my friend?

A few questions to think about:

Have your feelings gotten hurt when someone does not respond in kind to a friend request?

Have you been upset to see a friend make a post on someone else’s page and not respond to any of your posts?

Do you get excited when you make a post about something, then disappointed when no one notices?  Or seems to notice?

I’ve been experimenting with social media for about a year now.  I’m an active user of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  And I am noticing, even in myself at times, that we hold unspoken expectations of our “friends” in this media, much more so than we do in real life at times.

I’ve seen this happen on Facebook to close friends of mine and I’ve helped them navigate out of this bees nest. It can and has deterioriated into blocked profiles- the ultimate door slammer.  I’ve also noticed it on Twitter too.  People unfollow people who they don’t feel interact with them the way the want to. And the emphasis is on “the way THEY want them to”.  Of course at the end of the day, we have 100% choice in who we choose to friend, follow and pay attention to.  Then why put it back on the other person?

Is all this our egos at play?  I am always happy to make friends with someone and bring them into my circle.  But then, do I go and hold them accountable to how “I” prefer to interact?  I must confess, sometimes I do.  It’s not fair, and it’s not what these connections are meant to be about.

I do think that new joiners on Facebook and Twitter set out with specific ideas in mind of how things will be for them.  The reality is usually far different from their idea.  And disappointment follows.  I’ve seen this scenario happen over and over:

– You friend someone, say an old high school friend

– They respond, excited to hear from you and give you a brief update.

– You respond, excited with a brief update.

– Then no more response from your friend.  Or vague, choppy responses.

And here’s where disappointment comes in.  You start asking yourself, “Did I say too much” Did I make this person mad?” and all the second guessing that happens at this point.

The challenge is that there are all types of computer users on Facebook and Twitter. Some check in daily, some weekly, and some monthly or whenever they get a chance.  It’s not always a “real-time” response, but of course it can be it’s just not all the time.

So my point is, let’s drop all our expectations.  Why do we have them of others, especially in this medium?  Your famly and friends probably can’t live up to them in real life, so why the heck bring them here?

Sure, there’s banter, good back and forth dialog and hip shots, that’s what makes it fun.  There is a subtle ebb and flow of information being exchanged.  It’s like a river, and you jump in and out when it’s convenient for you.  But when we start judging others based on their response, lack of response, or what appears to be lack of interest, just let it go.

Let’s let everyone be who they are.  I always tell people “Just be you” in these applications.  You don’t have to be witty all the time, or profound.  Just be you.  And let others be them.  This is the ultimate definition for a being a good friend.  Respond when something moves you to, otherwise don’t respond at all.  Sometimes silence is golden.  And sometimes a funny retort is a perfect response.  Don’t think too much about it.  Just let it happen.  And don’t get wrapped up in reading between the lines.  That’s where trouble is lurking.


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