Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Let's NOT be friends and the FBO mentality

Some time ago, I wrote about everyone friend requesting everyone (Let's be friends). Whether you know that person or not, and I mean really know the person, you have to friend request them. This is why I love the unsubscribe feature on Facebook. I can be friends with you and interact, but I don't need to see you cluttering up my feed the with things that aren't important to me - like how many hours you spent in labor or the fact that your kid hasn't had a solid shit in 2 weeks. If my closest friends in the world told me these things, they'd be somewhat important because they are real friends in the inner sanctum of my life. If I haven't seen you in 15 years, I'm not going to be sympathetic to the long retail shifts you work. It's not me being an asshole. It's the fact that we are just not close. However, if I delete you, then we will never BE close. So there's something to be said for remaining friends without populating each other's timelines with every piece of useless, inane minutia in our lives. Additionally, the subscribe function is amazing, although few people turned it on. If you kind of know me or know of me or simply want to know what I have to say, then you can subscribe to me without being friends. Anything I mark public, you'll see. If I mark it for friends only, then you won't. It's a happy middle ground. I'm getting a little off track here. The point is that Facebook statuses have become the mark of what is real and what is not. Want to know where you stand with someone? Check Facebook. There's even the phrase for relationships, "It ain't official until it's Facebook official" or simply, FBO.

What people fail to realize is that it's not about Facebook. Friending or unfriending someone on Facebook is not the be all, end all to relationships, but it does mean something. 15 years ago we'd tell the world when we had a break up or a falling out or even on the good side of things and we'd do it with 900 phone calls. Now we have a new vehicle. It's mass marketing. Hey, for anyone interested, I'm in a relationship/my cat died/I dropped a 9 inch turd/I'm moving to Bolivia/etc. Saves time in our transient lives. It's also a voice for the voiceless. For people who have less interaction and don't hold the attention of others, it's a way to make a statement. Facebook aggregates the lives of so many people. The status isn't what's important. The action someone takes to change it, is.

I had 2 different FBO changes over the past couple of days. They are most certainly related and they are in opposite directions. Apparently, one begets the other. Here's the story. For many, many years I've known someone. We were never particularly close, but always friendly. Truthfully, this person was friends with my brother and since we knew each other we were Facebook friends. Back in September or early October, I guess, we got to chatting via some iPhone help and then continued chatting from there. There was a minor amount of flirting and a tentative plan to have a drink when I visit around Christmas. Not long after we began chatting there was a miscommunication and TWO very LOOOOONG conversations via text message about communication and feelings in depth about what was to come. That was, for me, insanity and way too deep for 2 people who only ever spoke when they happened to be in the same room, had recently started to speak independently and had nothing beyond tentative plans to have a drink, which could have just as easily been a session of catching up since I'm never in town. Things basically died on the vine right then and there.

Then I met Linda. Things have been great. We've been getting to know each other by talking nonstop. Lots in common. Lots of interest. Lots of fun. I saw her this past weekend and we had an amazing time. We had been waffling on the whole relationship title thing. Were we together before we met. We felt it and acted it, but the world wouldn't understand. Could we even say it on the first weekend or should we wait? It all revolved around what other people would think, which I rarely give a shit about, but going through the story over and over again seemed like a hassle so maybe we should play the game of society and say nothing for a while. By the end of the weekend, that wasn't an option. We were clearly an item, forsaken all others, and wanted the world to know all about it - more importantly, there was no sense in keeping quiet. So, we changed the Facebook status and began calling ourselves a couple and went FBO. Woohoo! I say that with partial sarcasm because it annoys me a little bit that Facebook has become the grand delineator for what qualifies as a relationship, yet it is what it is and I'm happy to be at that point with her.

Back to the first situation. She sells some costume type jewelry and I thought my mom may like some for Christmas, so I went to her page to check it out. To my surprise, I had been unfriended. I asked if there was a mistake and I was told that there was not and it was a purposeful action because of my new relationship. Apparently, my actions being told on Facebook were being thrown in the Face of the scorned and that led to the deletion. So that's what I meant when I said that one FBO action begot another. It happens from time to time. People are so very invested in relationships via Facebook that the actions they take speak loudly. It's not about the status, as I mentioned earlier. It's about that someone is using the current vehicle (Facebook) to deliver a message. Rather than ignoring, it becomes about screaming to the world that this person no longer qualifies to be in your circle.

Rather than just knowing that Linda and I are a happy couple, we proclaim it to the world for everyone's approval. We wonder why more people haven't "liked" it yet. There is no more activity that you know someone, you like them, you give them a call to say hello and grab a drink. Everything is so clearly defined all the time. The edges of relationships are hard lines, not shading and blending. You're friends or you're not. You're in a relationship or your not and it's all defined not only by how you feel, but also by whether or not you're Facebook official about it. This goes on with business associates on LinkedIn as well. "Ehh, yeah I worked with the guy, but I'm not sure I want to accept his request."

It's an interesting dynamic that has been added into relationships (of all types) in the social age. This is the first time that one FBO action created another FBO action for me though. It's interesting to me.

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