Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Politics of Unfriending Someone

There are certain times when it becomes necessary to unfriend someone (yes, I am talking about Facebook). Logic would dictate that the Facebook unfriend would be distinctly more casual than the "real life" version of such an action, but logic unfortunately has no place in this discourse. First of all, one rarely decides not to be friends with someone in real life - usually I realize I haven't spoken to someone for five years and think, "I guess we're not friends anymore!" Then, when/if the decision has been made, there is less of a formal action in real life to indicate that the friendship has been discontinued. It's more of a fading away...until someone wakes up and thinks, "I haven't spoken to Priya in five years!" On Facebook, everyone has concrete evidence that one of you has decided that there is no longer A Friendship. This can be a big deal, because it's objective proof of a very subjective experience. What if both people don't see it the same way?

The subjectivity of the Facebook Unfriend is part of what can make it such a troubling thing to go through. One person may see a particular episode as a watershed event in the friendship, while the other thinks that everything is going along as usual. Thus the Unfriend can be jarring, and maybe even feel spiteful, since it often comes without previous discussion or forewarning. The person who deletes his or her friend is, after all, making a semi-public announcement that something unforgivable has taken place.

"Something unforgivable" means different things to different people, however, and this ambiguity can get even more complicated when it involves a person who is part of a relationship. Last night I asked Devon, "Why didn't you unfriend that kid a year ago?" That kid, in the course of our dinner together one night, mentioned that he did not believe that the Holocaust really happened. A HOLOCAUST DENIER! I responded to his statement by drinking a margarita the size of a fishbowl and being as caustically sardonic as possible all through dinner, and assumed that Devon would unfriend him when the night was through. A year and a half later, however, the friendship remains intact (on Facebook anyway), and this miscreant most foul has continued to crop up and post insane political nonsense (the kind of political nonsense you'd expect a Holocaust denier to post, if you're wondering) from time to time, turning my blood to boiling, roiling lava each time I think of him and my boyfriend being friends. Devon's response to my question, by the way, was, "I just didn't think about it." I just checked again (see what I mean about concrete proof) and almost 20 hours after our conversation, they're still friends. This angers me deeply since 1. I believe firmly that HOLOCAUST DENIERS SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED/APPEASED. EVER, 2. The fact that my boyfriend is doing it kind of makes me feel like I'm tolerating/appeasing this unbelievable shitbag, which I DEFINITELY WOULD NOT, given the opportunity. Maybe Devon didn't unfriend the Holocaust denier because he is a patient person (which he is, in this case - I believe - to a fault). Maybe he didn't do it because Facebook politics just aren't that important to him so his Facebook actions do not reflect his day-to-day life. Maybe he didn't do it because...well, the world is full of possibilities, isn't it?

1 comment:

David Okun said...

heres some deep shit - the holocaust denier IS DEVON