Technology, Friendship & Unfriending

I believe all people enter and leave our lives to love us, befriend us, help us, or teach us something.  It’s not unusual for friendships to change over the years, due to distance, life’s circumstances or other reasons. A close friend today might be less close tomorrow and a new friend might quickly become close. Our lives continually change and the people in them change as well.

If we are lucky we have some friends that are family. These are the special friends that no matter how much time or distance separates you, you just pick up right where you left off.  Others come into our lives for a short time, burn bright, then fade away.  These fleeting friendships serve a purpose, even if that purpose isn’t immediately clear.

It wasn’t that long ago that we kept in touch with our friends in person, by telephone, or by putting pen to paper. If we lost touch then the only way to get back in touch was to make an effort in those same ways.

Today it’s different.  We can interact online with our friends, share thoughts, pictures, and update each other on our respective lives.  This newfound connectivity has its advantages and disadvantages, which are continually debated.

In my experience it has served to keep me in touch with old friends who, without this technology, would be lost.  The flip side of it is that it has reduced communication with closer friends.  Picking up a phone and having an actual conversation seems archaic, requires more time and a higher level of commitment than is always convenient. Instead we text or have Facebook exchanges that can be spaced out over hours or even days, allowing for multitasking and living busy lives.  Although convenient and less demanding, I do often feel shortchanged by these interactions.  Friendship, like every human connection needs nurturing, and nurturing requires commitment, time and dedication.  What harm, if any, is being done by not having a more organically committed friendship?  Is technology saving us or hurting us?

All this leads me to the inevitable sting of being unfriended. I have a friend, at least I thought we were friends, that I don’t see often. We are separated by distance, and we no longer have the close relationship we once enjoyed. We worked together, spending many hours a day in each others company, and occasionally interacted outside of the workplace. We did, until recently,  keep in touch by text and an occasional phone call, and of course we were Facebook friends. I know things change, yet I find I am nonetheless hurt his unfriending me.

There are ways built into Facebook that can limit what you see from someone while still keeping them as friends. A way to avoid unfriending. You don’t have to see someone’s posts in your feed but you can still visit their page, look at pictures, and view whatever posts might interest you, avoiding those that don’t.

This was designed as a way to keep friends you seldom interact with; but has it also become just a step before unfriending?  Is it being kind or simply a form of avoidance? Is it better or am I just trying to mitigate my own hurt?

I don’t want this friendship to fade away but I also don’t want to force it to stay.  I’m uncertain what, if anything, to do about it.  Is this the new way a friendship fades?  Has technology just added a layer to the complexities of some friendship’s fleeting nature?  I haven’t the answers. All I have is a feeling of being secretly discarded.

I suppose when it comes right down to it I obviously placed more importance on this friendship than the other person and I will have to deal with that fact and the feelings that arise.  Although I’m saddened and hurt over losing someone I valued as a friend, at least by their unfriending me they are communicating their intentions, even if passively, that they are less invested than I am at keeping the friendship alive.  Knowing how they feel and being cognizant of the impermanence of all things in life will hopefully help lessen the sting of rejection.

I welcome your thoughts, opinions and feelings on this subject.

Light, Love & Peace…Always

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