SOCIAL MEDIA FRIENDS. WHEN DOES THE CHATTER BECOME TOO MUCH?
The Blog of Andrew Clifton-brown
So, you've met some people on social media sites that you immediately click with. You just know that you are going to like them. Other people you meet there are an acquired taste, and some people can take a while to ‘get’. You have friends of friends that it would be rude not to talk to and interact with, and the people that you circled the night before when you'd had loads of wine and they looked interesting (But in the cold light of day you just think 'Why??' and ‘Again?? What is wrong with me!’). And of course you have the usual maniacs, trolls and the passive aggressives that you can spot at 50 paces.
You also have that rare group of people that you've met online and in real life that you like and get along with quite well. And these people are part and parcel of what I am talking about.
These are individuals that will not just be in your online social media space, they are now a phone call, text or email away. They are no longer just a profile pic or a gif of a dancing cat. These people are now in your life.
So on a day to day or thereabouts basis you interact with these people and you show a little solidarity when they post on whatever social media platform you are both on.
And then they start to post things that fly in the face of what you believe in or agree with that is out of sync of the foundation of your friendship. And it could be about something like politics or religion, which you know can be pretty divisive, and the most innocuous comment can turn into a sh*t storm of almost biblical proportions (see what I did there).
So, you don't plus those posts of theirs rather than have a heated discussion with them about it and more importantly you don’t want to be seen agreeing with something that you don’t believe. They are however still plussing or liking your posts and so it doesn't look like an even distribution of wealth from their point of view. So you make an effort to think how to reply without really saying anything. You become vanilla in all of your public interactions with them. And it takes some effort to be vanilla. So instead of a pithy one liner that takes thirty seconds tops or a heartfelt gush-in, you spent five minutes pondering what the hell to write. And it starts to become a real bind each time. And then you start to dread their posts because it’s such a drain on your time and you feel you would like to point out a few counter arguments to their post if you are going to have to reply.
While you like this person their barrage of posts starts to irrationally irritate you and you begin to resent giving them your time. It’s a friendship where you are on eggshells the whole time. Right up until the point where you realise you just don't want to see their political/religious points of view or brain farts any more. Even the amusing stuff isn't sufficiently amusing to compensate for the previous diatribes of Orwellian double think contradictions that makes them look schizophrenic.
In your mind, they have just become annoying. So, while they are annoying online by virtue of the majority of their content and how you feel about it, you genuinely know they are a nice person but you just can't hack the intrusive nature of their online presence in your stream. So you have to mute them or filter them. And at this point it means you will now not see their posts, but it does mean that you'll have to remember to actively view their stream and plus the good stuff they come out with because you aren’t out to hurt them. And that is where it breaks for me. I never remember to do that.
Like a lot of people I have a partner, job, children other social media mates, IRL mates, etc. Things slip. It's just how it is. I don't beat myself up over it. I can't live my life plugged into Social media no matter how much fun I find it, and when I am on there I want to enjoy my experience.
And so now you have hit the spot where your stream is pleasant again. No one is telling you how disgusting something is and you don't have to read the intolerant comments through gritted teeth as glib XXX somethings espouse uninformed views. Peace. Another thing is sorted.
So like an ‘okay’ mate, you finally remember to have a look through their stream and ‘like’ or ‘plus’ their posts that you feel that you can. And then you spot that post. The post you know is addressed to you in all but name and is public and what should be vague references (and were grown-ups here. We can deal with this) to you are not quite as oblique as you feel they could have been. The post that contains words like ‘backstabbing’, ‘two faced’, ‘think you know someone’, yadda, yadda. And you have to stop and wonder if you’re reading about a different person here. You read the comments. And it all feels weird. You aren't that two faced bastard that people are talking about in that post. Although strictly speaking you are because you've withdrawn a bit and aren't engaging in their chats about ______because it does your head in, but to engage in all out war with someone over their views is something you just don’t want to get into. In this instance however the same result has come about. A friendship that is broken and lost.
I am now chatter free at this point. But it has come at a cost. This person will undoubtedly have things to say about me and sadly like lots of things in the world it was caused by a communication breakdown and I think largely I am at fault here. Maybe I should have just been entirely honest from the first moment I saw an intolerant post and said I’m not comfortable with that, or probably more truthfully had I known some of their views before we became friends on social media first we wouldn’t have become friends at all.
This post isn’t a pity party. I’m not shedding tears here.
I am ultimately the master of my own view.
But my original question still stands.
When does the chatter become too much?