Friends are friends all the time

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Because of Facebook, I know my friend painted her kitchen red. I know another friend can’t have coffee because she is fasting for blood work she will have later today.

Because of Facebook, I know about my niece’s engagement and that another friend’s brother is having knee surgery. I know a friend is about to start a job as a registered nurse and another friend lost all her contacts and wants folks to send her their information.

Yep, I know a lot of stuff about friends and family members because of Facebook. I guess that is fine — maybe.

However, lately I’ve given some thought to the things I learn about friends that I might never know if it wasn’t for Facebook. And, I don’t know if that always contributes to the friendship.

For example, I see posts on Facebook about people’s political persuasion or religious preference. I learn how some folks feel about issues like gay marriage, gun control, abortion, terrorism, immigration and so on and so on.

Sometimes I’m surprised when I learn a friend and I have completely different points of view. Something I’d probably never know if I didn’t see a Facebook post. And every now and then, if I don’t rein in my urge to respond, I comment on something with which I don’t agree. That path doesn’t usually lead to a pleasant road.

Now, I realize that opinions are personal and mine are not universally shared by everyone — not even my Facebook friends. Still, there is that ego thing that wants to defend those opinions no matter what (I’m working on that.)

Since there is something in me that tends toward commenting when I should let it go, I’ve taken to hiding posts that rub up against my opinions. I figure that if I don’t see them, I won’t be tempted to write something when it is best to be silent.

That got me to thinking about whether or not Facebook is always good for friendship or if sometimes it messes up relationships. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t read it on Facebook, I might not know that some friends think differently from the way I think. And try as we may, discovering this might change how we view each other — either in a positive or negative way.

Since many of my Facebook friends are people I don’t see face-to-face, we would never know or discuss topics on which we don’t agree. We would sail along being casual friends with nothing passing between us to alter the friendship one way or the other.

I’m not saying it isn’t good to share different ideas or express how we feel, but maybe doing it on social media is not the most constructive way to communicate because it is too easy to type something you would never say to someone’s face. Looking them in the eyes, you might express your idea, but with much more reserve and perhaps with a bit more concern for how your words come across. And again, there are topics that would not ever come up, and that could be a good thing.

So I’m wondering if for the sake of some friendships, sometimes it is best to unfriend and end the Facebook part of a relationship.

Or paraphrasing Shakespeare.

To friend, or not to friend: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to argue with the posts of friends with whom I don’t agree

Or by unfriending them, save the friendship.

Maybe ignorance is bliss when it comes to maintaining a particular friendship. Perhaps knowing just enough and not too much is best for certain relationships to survive and thrive.

So that is how I am going to think when I realize I’ve been unfriended by someone. And, to any friends who find they have disappeared from my friends’ list, know it is my way of saying I value our friendship too much to let Facebook mess it up.