A while ago, I made a practice of deleting a person a day from my Facebook account. I have a lot of “Friends” there but how many of them are really my friends? Facebook is great because you can look up anyone, everyone that you’ve ever met but that’s sort of its downfall. With MySpace, my friends list was full of bands and people I didn’t know but, hey, at least I could pretend I was using the site because I wanted to get to know them. I make no such claims with Facebook. My Facebook friends list is full of people to whom I never speak, with whom I will never have a conversation again.
Perhaps it started because I simply wanted to have no pending friend requests. Maybe I felt guilty when I didn’t add people but now my friends list is full of people who were my friend eight years ago but one or both of us have changed so much — or stayed so exactly the same — that we could never have a friendship now, if we hadn’t already been friends. And that’s the better of the non-friend Facebook friends. I’ve got a ton of people who went to the same school as me but with whom I never had a single conversation who have tried to add me. I have people who have tried to add me who I’ve felt nothing but disgust for. I have people of whom I have absolutely no recollection.
Sure, people change and, yes, friendships can arise from surprising sources but Facebook isn’t one of those. I don’t talk to these people because of Facebook. It hasn’t facilitated much in the way of connections. It hasn’t rekindled a single friendship that I can think of. In fact, Facebook only connects me to people with whom I’d already be connecting outside of Facebook. It only keeps me up to date with people I’d remember even if there were no Facebook.
So when I say that a friendship a decade ago is not enough to keep you on my friends list. I’m not lying. It’s not. But it’s not unkind, either. We’re not meant to keep in contact with every person we ever met. Trying to do so will only weigh us down, perhaps more-so for those of us with anxiety. The value of our connections is that they are fleeting. They all cannot possibly last forever and, if we’re smart, that motivates us to make the best of that time and to be grateful for it.