Close the Book

We had a special topic request from my doppelganger, another Laura Stratford!

Thank goodness, otherwise I was just going to have to talk about being busy, and that’s not really interesting to anyone else. It’s hardly interesting to me.

Laura 2 (when you comment on my blog, I get to be the alpha) asks:

Just perusing to see if you had any interesting FaceBook bloggings re: deactivation due to annoying friends without boundaries/narcissism/passive-aggressive postings, etc. I’ve just pulled the trigger (deactivated)….already feel a huge sense of independence….and i was only an occasional FB’r. What is your current take?

What a good question. And hi, other-me!

First off, I want to say that when I joined Facebook, for a long time I was the only Laura Stratford you could find, because (*cue crotchety voice*) this was back in the day where you needed a college email address to get on and there were fewer people with not-terribly-common names then and blah blah blah. Also it’s possible that I just was really bad at searching. Anyway, I thought I was special for much longer than I actually was. But to my knowledge we still don’t have any neurosurgeons or astronauts rocking the LS name. Let’s change that, other-me!

My current take on Facebook and friends and “friends” and “”friends.”” Hmmm.

Well, I go from being a diligent FB’er (in my freeish time) to being pretty miserable at checking (in my busy times, like now). But most of the time I do keep up with my newsfeed. I might just skim for things (and people) who look interesting, but usually I’ll check out what you’ve got going on. My current strategy for who to keep as a friend, since my numbers have been climbing since 2005–I currently have 1,135 friends, and that’s after several purges–is pretty simple. If I don’t actively want to get to know you better and I wouldn’t go out of my way to see you if you suddenly came into town, you’re off the list.

Some people have leeway. That includes old friends and acquaintances–I’m so far from my hometown that I enjoy having high school people as friends even though we don’t really interact much. It also includes artists that I’ve met at some point and will probably never work with again, but that I enjoy the idea of working with, or people who consistently post stuff that interests me.

I have also “hidden” some people from my newsfeed on purpose. This includes a couple of old boyfriends. I did it when we’d just broken up and I didn’t want to be reminded of their going on with their lives, but I didn’t want to do something as seemingly dramatic as suddenly unfriending them. Plus, I tend to be friendly with exes, so I didn’t want to give the impression of “you’re dead to me” that a move like that can make. Plus plus this way I can still invite them to shows that I look really good in.

As for people who are frustrating or clingy or offensive on Facebook…well.

I limited my profile to one guy who kept commenting with anti-feminist things on my feminist posts after telling him I didn’t want to “debate” with him on women’s issues anymore. Why not delete him? I knew it would alienate a close friend of mine who is involved with him. Maybe cowardly, but it worked.

For the most part I just ignore people who act clingy, or I try to be kind. You can respond to what I say or to my pictures or videos all you want. I just won’t necessarily acknowledge it.

I’m lucky enough not to have very many friends who are offensive (to me) in their posts. If they’re racist or sexist or homophobic, that’s a surefire way to get unfriended. Most of the time, my newsfeed is a love-fest of progressive liberal sentiment, Doctor Who references, and cat pictures.

It’s a great question, though. How do you police your online persona? How do you indicate (or hide) that you’re done with a person? In an environment that seems made to be infinitely tailorable, how do you tailor your own experience?

I’ll admit that I do a lot of skimming, and probably not as much purging as I should. I do actually look at who “liked” a post or status if it has to do with something I care about. I definitely invite people to my shows on Facebook, and also definitely ignore some event invitations from other people. But I’ll also admit that I filter statuses to reach appropriate audiences, that I don’t mass-invite friends to events, that I go through my 1000+ friends for every event to try to invite people who are relevant, at LEAST people who still live in my city.

And I appreciate a lot about Facebook. I have friends in India that I can keep up with effortlessly, and friends from camps and apprenticeships and schools and other experiences who I don’t need to lose touch with. I’ll freely admit that I’m not great at getting rid of people who I could perhaps be fine without, but I’m really happy with 95% of the people I’ve still got in my life, however tangentially. For the most part, I still feel like my social networks enrich my life.

I will note that my mother has a Facebook account and that we are not “friends.” It’s not because I don’t love her. She uses her Facebook to connect to a realm of friends and family members that I don’t need to engage with on that platform, and vice versa with my own use of the site. My dad has conscientiously avoided this here platform, and we still talk and send each other links and articles all the time. My brother refuses to confirm our technical siblinghood on the Zuckerbergopoly. You don’t have to be Facebook friends with someone to like them, or even love them.

But, other-me, it sure does help you forget them when you want to.

How about y’all?

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