Beware, the Facebook “Friend”.Anja van Kralingen
An ex- lover of mine contacted me on Facebook. We had a love affair when I was 20.
He was so beautiful!
It turned out that he stays in the same suburb as me and asked me to meet for coffee. So I mentioned to Stephen that my former lover wants to have coffee…
‘What are you going to do?’ He asked, suspiciously.
I thought I would tease him and raised one eyebrow .
‘No, I am not comfortable with that!’ he proclaimed. ‘Don’t you know what having coffee means? Don’t you ever watch those movies where they go up to the apartment after the date for ‘coffee’?’
I said OK. I gave in easily. Usually I wouldn’t tolerate such simplemindedness, but really…
I honestly did not want to see him!
He was the most beautiful young man and I didn’t want to see my precious memory spoilt by a balding middle aged man. Horrible? Maybe, but true!
THE FIRST PROBLEM WITH OLD SCHOOL FRIENDS.
In fact, I don’t want to see any of my old school friends. I definitely don’t want such an obvious reminder that I am old (ish) . When you get to 35 or older, suddenly when you have to tick your age on a questionnaire as 35-40, 40-45 or older, it is quite a shock!
What! Am I really that old?
But you quickly forget it. It is when you meet up with your old school buddy and they are sooooo old, that the reality starts banging on the door: ‘There was a time. ……..but now it is over!’ Horrible, truly horrible!
Stephen recently met up an old high school friend on Facebook and when he looked at the pictures he thought it odd that his friend had posted photo’s of his dad. Then he realised that he was looking at his friend!
THE OTHER PROBLEM WITH OLD SCHOOL FRIENDS
The other problem with meeting up with old school buddies is that you are reduced to who you were when they knew you. Never mind if you are successful or fatter or thinner or whatever; in their eyes you will always be the kid they knew way back when.
Years of transformation reduced in a single glance.
Think about it. When you meet up with someone who you went to school with, do you not relate to them as if they are still that same person?
I have a problem with that!
THE REAL PROBLEM WITH FACEBOOK FRIENDS
This incident with the ex- lover happened about 6 months after I initially joined Facebook. After the coffee (which meant something else(?) and didn’t happen) event, I immediately deleted myself off Facebook. I had to re-start it when I started blogging, but if you go to my profile, you will see that I still keep a low profile .
Before there was Facebook (or any internet social structure), school friends naturally drifted apart. They spread all over the world: different universities, some went travelling, some started working straight away. It was an initiation into adulthood, to part from your friends. You moved on and up, spread your wings, etc.
Now, you sort of drag along your whole life.
You are friends with people by default. It is awfully rude not to accept a friend request or to block someone on Facebook, so you end up having ‘friends’ with whom you don’t really want to be ‘friends’ with.
The Jungian approach is one of discretion. You need to make choices for yourself. Choices of who you want to be. What path you want to walk. We all know how profoundly we are affected by others, and this is really nicely explained in Stephen’s blogs Transference: The saviour, the Madonna and the slut and Counter-transference: the obscene other.
One needs to think carefully about whom you surround yourself with. And don’t kid yourself by saying that it doesn’t apply to Facebook. Just because they are not physically in your life, does not mean they aren’t affecting you or who you think you are. When you post things on Facebook, who are you communicating with? This unconsciously affects what you put out there, how you feel about yourself and who you are in the face of others.
I’ll leave you to ponder this with 2 questions:
Do you wish you could delete some of your Facebook friends?
Can you re-invent yourself without deleting the past?
‘No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.‘ ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Until next time