The Deletability of Frienships
Josh and I had a daytime date yesterday, and we went to see The Social Network. And I freakin’ bawled. That’s pretty much my assessment of the movie.
I know, I wasn’t really expecting that reaction either. I mean, I went into Milk knowing that I would cry myself sick and I, indeed, cried myself sick. But I thought this was going to be a straightforward he’s-a-mean-billionaire movie. And it wasn’t. Well, it was. And it wasn’t.
I cried for two main reasons. One, regardless of how accurate the movie portrayed the creation and implementation of Facebook, it did get to the heart of one of my biggest fears about both social situations and/or Facebook, which is the deletability of friendships.
This isn’t unique to the online world — you spend years cultivating a friendship, trust someone with the core of your being, and then one day, they’re simply gone. Either there is a clear falling out, or there is a drifting apart. Or sometimes, there is neither. I don’t think I’m unique in that I have a friendship that simply ended, without explanation. One that I didn’t want to have end.
The Social Network both highlights the ease one takes sometimes in deleting a friendship — both online or in-person. I think some people agonize over unfriending someone and breaking a connection on Facebook. I think other people delete people out of spite. Someone pisses them off, so they hit delete. Because it’s easier than trying to understand the other person, work out the hurt feelings.
How many people have used unfriending as a last resort, and how many people use it as a first line defense?
And yes, it’s also true that it speaks to the quality of the friendships if we’re okay letting them go so easily. Perhaps we’d think more about hitting delete on someone who has been in our life for years and years vs. someone we just met online. But perhaps that is why I have such trouble with the word “friending” in connection to Facebook.
I have a lot of Facebook anxiety, can you tell? And it has nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with the unspoken messages we send with a Facebook connection as well as the fact that we’re not all playing on the site with the same rules. Does that make sense? I think that’s why I have such trouble with Facebook, with knowing what to post and what to hold back and how to label my relationship with another person.
The second part of the movie that made me cry was the fact that this movie was made at all. I actually got up in the middle and walked around for a few minutes just because it was making me so anxious to watch it. Because how craptastic do you think Mark Zuckerberg feels about the portrayal of his life in this movie?
I’m well aware that people justify it in saying that Mark Zuckerberg has proven time and time again that he doesn’t care about people’s privacy. But at what point do we cross the line in discussing another person? Are politicians fair game? Actors and actresses? What about not discussing their work, but instead discussing their marriage? What about business owners such as Mark Zuckerberg — should he be fair game? What about another blogger — does the person need to have a certain following to make it “okay” and then what is the threshold?
Have you ever read something crappy about yourself written online? How did you feel reading it? Was it a comment on your own blog? Was it in someone else’s post? Did the location of the words make a difference? Now multiply that by 5.2 million, because that’s about how many people have seen the movie.
And whether or not it’s fiction is beside the point. So much of what we read is one person’s point-of-view and is hardly a picture of reality. But the fact is, other people read it and think they have learned something real. And beyond that, Mark Zuckerberg and his friends and family know it’s out there, and how do you think they feel having his life co-opted for entertainment’s sake? To spark a discussion?
I felt dirty watching the film. And I worry that I’m contributing to his discomfort now simply by writing this. I’m justifying it to myself because I have said nothing about Mark Zuckerberg, since without knowing him, cannot relay information as if it were true facts about who he is as a person. I don’t know his motivations or whether he tried to screw people along the way. This post is simply about where we draw the line in discussing another person, and how do we value our friendships.
And truly, I’m only imagining that he’s feeling like shit because I would feel like shit if this movie had been made about me, and because he said it in People magazine*. And while what you read on blogs may or may not be true, People magazine is gospel.
* Yes, I read People magazine. Please, do not get me started on that guilt.