Facebook “friends” and friends on Facebook.
I think Ed and I could be friends.
Sometimes the strangest things happen on buses. Whether that be entire wardrobe changes, the disintegration of relationships played out in front of 60 relative strangers or procreation*, Sydney’s public transport certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to… colourful moments.
I had another one of those moments recently – except everyone remained fully clothed and no one shouted at their relatives. Yeah, a little less sexy and scandalous.
I was on my way to uni (truly groundbreaking stuff). As I walked up the back of the bus I spotted a girl whom I’m Facebook friends with sitting just in front of the seat I had my sights on.
Insert the part where we may eye-contact and say hi to each other and briefly catch up. Insert the part where we don’t make eye-contact and don’t say hi to each other – even though we are now sitting 40cm away from each other.
Sorry. Let’s pause and recap. My “friend” is sitting in the seat in front of me and I am not going to say hi to her. Huh?
Just quietly, WHY THE HELL ARE WE EVEN FACEBOOK FRIENDS?!
Calm down, Alex.
See, you could be deceived into thinking that we are actually friends. I mean, I know what she is studying, whom our mutual friends are, whom her family members are, whom her boyfriend is, what her boyfriend’s job is, her favourite authors and her pet’s name – all courtesy of our Facebook “friendship”. Well, except for the fact that we’re “friends” who have barely ever had a conversation with each other. But conversation is so passé, darling.
I’m still unsure whether I didn’t say hi because of the social conformity and norms which dictate that we don’t speak to people in certain settings or because the word “friend” has been diluted and no longer carries the value it once had. Either way, I have no idea how this girl and I even became to be Facebook friends in the first place.
See, spending some time with her the other week allowed us to go past the superficial “how-are-you-what-are-you-up-to-at-the-moment-oh-that’s-nice-bye!” And it was a pleasure to have done so, because I learnt so much more about her and her life that I could have ever done by Facebook-stalking her. We talked about the future, family dynamics, AFL-honed muscles and unexpectedly enchanting cities.I think social media only allows us glimpses into each others lives, and we orchestrate the glimpses we let others see – myself very much included.
I was reminded of this when I was catching up with a friend over coffee. (An actual friend this time.) Look, it was nice, but I was acutely aware of the fact that the main way in which we’ve kept abreast of each others’ lives recently has been by liking one another’s Instagram photos, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates. We’ve been friends for years, but honestly, I think that our social media friendship has been a contributing factor to the deterioration of our (actual) relationship. We ask each other about things which we’ve seen the other post about – no longer bothering to feign surprise after waiting for them to bring it up themselves.
It makes catching up somewhat redundant, doesn’t it?
So, with that in mind, I’m trying my best to not write various status updates about my life at the moment. Yes, I think that the Likes would be well into the double digits and gosh, I’d feel sooo totes loved and #blessed. But who am I kidding? My Facebook friends are all nice people, but I’m only close friends with a solid 4% of them and I want to share my news with this 4% in person because they are the people who really matter to me. They’ll be genuinely happy for me because they’ll understand the significance of the things I’m sharing with them.
I guess that’s why I didn’t say hi to that girl on the bus. She’s just a “friend” and not a friend. And those speech marks, small as they are, seem to make a difference.
* I wish I could say that I hadn’t witnessed that last one in particular, but I kid you not – I did. #stillmildlytraumatised