Facebook is not the most natural environment for human interaction really. We use it to try and stay in touch with people; people we see every day and others we haven’t seen for a long time. Sometimes we use it to communicate with people we have never met before, and all of this can be fun and useful. It can also come with problems. Human beings communicate on many levels, and the forced limitation of much of social media to the written word means that many of the nuances of good communication are lost in the acts of staying in touch. Smileys go some of the way towards filling the gaps when the written words seem over harsh or contain the possible reading of insult when none was intended, but this still isn’t enough. We could do ‘face time,’ but the very idea of that gives me the creeps. I won’t bother. So we are ‘friends’ with people on social media, but what does this mean, especially when one’s friend does not ‘follow’ you?
Today I discovered that two people had unfollowed me on Facebook because the opinions that I had shared there (as we do) had made them feel uncomfortable. What do I post to Facebook? Not cute cat pictures for a start. I post things about social injustice (frequently), blog posts (yes them too), political opinions (aye, why not?), and that sort of thing. This has made people uncomfortable? This discovery hurt my feelings (I do have those). I didn’t cry, but I was wounded by it and felt that this was my gut telling me that I had been rejected by others. So be it. We don’t have to read each other’s posts, but removing everything that other person posts is mean spirited. My feeling was that if they were uncomfortable with my thoughts then they should have removed me as a friend. I decided to do that for them.