As many of my friends can attest, I regularly de-friend people on Facebook. Working in online media, I generally accept most requests so long as we have a few friends in common, even if I have no idea who you are. In my industry, it’s rude not to and could actually lead to some awkward interaction at some industry event. This habit, however, means that my Facebook friend count can creep up toward the quadruple digits quickly and easily. Before I know it, I’ll be scanning my newsfeed for any inkling or indication that I actually know any of my “friends.”
The solution to this, of course, is the de-friending spree. I don’t really have a method, per se, but there are definitely some friends I will never remove – even if we are not in touch. These include, but are not limited to, childhood friends, very close (or once-close) college or high school friends, and current real-life friends. And current co-workers. Basically, I’ll only de-friend you if you are continuously spamming my newsfeed with inane updates that actively bother me (and when it will not suffice to simply “hide” you completely) and/or if visiting your profile is utterly useless to me (no stalking capabilities, no interesting posts or pictures, etc.).
I bring this up because at some point during what I have to assume is recently, a girl with whom I was at one time best friends de-friended me. I discovered this after I went down the Facebook-stalking-spiral of seeing who had boyfriends. (I learned she does.) I visited her profile – her name still populated since we have over 100 mutual friends – and discovered that little “Request Friendship” button lurking up by her name.
Whoaaaa, I thought. [Former College BFF] actually de-friended me! That’s bold.
Doing some reconnaissance, I learned she also de-friended another of our very close friends as well as three of our four shared college roommates (all of whom I’m still very close with)! The de-friending was clearly a message – albeit extraordinarily passive – that she no longer wanted to know me in any sense.
Now, Former College BFF and I definitely had something of a falling out our senior year – we were never meant to be roommates and yet still shared living space for 3/4 of our college careers (and the other 1/4 lived across the hall from one another). However, several months after we graduated and found ourselves both living in NYC and both working in publishing (less than 4 blocks from each other, too), we reconnected and had coffee. The initial awkwardness dissipated quickly and we fell into easy conversation – the kind that reminded me why we’d become such fast friends during Freshman Orientation. Our friendship was pretty irreparably damaged by the time we met for coffee – too much had been said, too little left unsaid – but my heart still felt that old familiar tug of wishing my once-best-friend could fill that role again.
She left NYC soon after and we did not keep in touch; on my part because I preferred to hold onto the better memories instead of forcing something different and less genuine into the present. However, on her part, apparently, the lack of contact was due to some other deep resentment and ultimate denial that our friendship ever existed. That became clear when she removed me from her Facebook repertoire – and ignored my subsequent two requests to become “friends” again.
The thing that makes me sad about this is not that I don’t want to be her friend anymore nor that she clearly wants nothing to do with me now. I understand – perhaps better than she will ever – that people change and grow and sometimes that includes outgrowing certain friends. The tragedy here, to me, is the blatant refusal to acknowledge the friendship that once existed.
We were inseparable at one point in time. It’s unfathomable to me how one half of that unit – which has long since shattered – can so easily deny it ever existed. On one hand, that hurts. On the other, I pity her. I feel sorry for her inability to accept the past wholly and completely and to acknowledge its place in her current life.
I have received the message loud and clear, though, and I will not be making a third attempt to rekindle that Facebook friendship. I am happy with my own knowledge that my Former College BFF affected me in ways I may not even fully appreciate, for better and for worse, and helped me to grow into who I am today. If she is unable to realize the same about me, she is not the person I thought she was anyway.