As you know I’ve been listening to a lot of Kanye West. One line that’s been ringing in my head for the last couple days comes from “Real Friends” found on The Life of Pablo album:
When was the last time I remembered a birthday?
That’s a very good question.
I noticed a high school friend’s birthday was up — I used to have her birthday committed to memory but that data has long since been purged. I noticed all the people wish her a happy birthday knowing that it’s likely triggered by an automated notification. A couple days later, she posts a thank you to everyone for the well wishes. Then I saw a trio of comments wishing her a happy birthday. If it wasn’t for that automated notification, how many of those people would have known it was her birthday?
I remember the birthdays of family members and the girls that I’m interested in at the time but I cannot recall any of my friends. So when Facebook surfaces an automated reminder on a friend’s behalf, I don’t act on it. I didn’t remember it so I’m not going to go through the motions of wishing them a disingenuous “Happy Birthday!”. I turned off Facebook’s birthday notifications so I guess you can say if I do wish you a “Happy Birthday!”, it’s because I created my own reminder and it’s genuine.
After reading that high school friend’s Facebook post, I realized we hadn’t actually talked in a decade or so I promptly unfriended her. I try to keep a svelte Facebook friends feed. I’m not looking to reconnect with old friends or keep a contact list of every person I’ve interacted with either.
You can say I’m bad at keeping up with friends but I’m purposely letting relationships die. I will be the first to admit that many of my friendships were born out of convenience. If you were to remove me from my current workplace, how many of those people will I still get together with or continue communicate with on a regular basis? Perhaps less than 20? Or less?
Wallet Sized Photos
You can chalk it up to me being old school but when it comes to pictures of kids, I prefer the more personal touch. I appreciate it when the parent is there to give context and physically show me their kid photos. Nobody carries wallet sized pictures anymore but the modern equivalent of showing off your kids on your smartphone is far more preferable to the random blast on a social network feed.
Now imagine every single time someone posts a picture of their kids, it’s like they came up to you and showed showed their bundle of joy’s latest adorable adventure. At one point it’s an overload and I know far too much about other people’s children without having them to actually tell me personally.
Not My Social Network
I feel comfortable sharing my random nonsense on Twitter because the people who follow me, do so on their own volition. On Facebook, I feel I have to carefully choose my words and content shared because I don’t know where it will end up due to Facebook’s sprawling nature. I’m not posting offensive garbage but I know my humor hinges on references that will leave audiences scratching their head.
For years, I didn’t sign up to Facebook because it was a two way street; you see my nonsense and I see yours. Since the ability to “Unfollow” was introduced, I’ve unfollowed more than 90% of my “Friends” because I just didn’t care for what they posted. They’re great people but I don’t care for what they post. There’s only one individual whom I deemed to be an interesting follow because he’s actually sharing interesting events, activities and projects.
If you examine whom I follow on Twitter, it’s primarily for entertainment or news. Facebook is geared so much towards sharing personal moments that I have no interest in participating in whatsoever. It’s just not my nature to share photos of myself or loved ones online.
Why Sign Up Then?
Why did I sign up to Facebook then? For online dating and to keep communication lines open for future employment reasons. I am fully aware that it makes me sound like an anti-social asshole but Facebook is nothing more than an overly complicated contact list to me. It’s just not for me whatsoever.