I guess this is going to be another of my anti-facebook rants. This may come as an irony because I am quite a heavy user of Facebook. But I do not browse through my news feed for entertainment, I like to scrutinize Facebook. Maybe that’s how I ended up writing two research papers on it. I wonder why my Singapore friends wrote so much about the Boston bombings and no one wrote about the Sichuan earthquake, it doesn’t make sense. I wonder why, moments after we were informed of the suicide, people wrote their first response as their statuses, not caring how his close friends and family would feel if they see them. I wonder why people post long Facebook statuses, trying to elicit a response from their friends.
What Facebook has done to me, apart from creating these new social behaviours for me to think about, is it redefines the meaning of a friend. I wonder how close a friend you are to me when I know just as much about you as your friend’s friend in Secondary School, I wonder how much I matter to you when you spend time writing long statuses instead of replying my whatsapps etc. I don’t think I have found a definition for a “friend” among my many friends on Facebook but I thought of a few things that I won’t do if you are my friend. This is not a static list of course since the platform itself is already so dynamic.
1. If you are my friend, I will not stalk you.
Call me old-fashioned but I still believe in catching up in person or at least private messages. If I want to know something about your life, I will ask you privately. Even if we drift apart, I won’t stalk you to know what you’re up to lately. I will ask you and hear from you directly. I also believe that I know you better than what your Facebook wall says about you. I always feel that things on the wall are trivial so please do not post that secret I kept for you on it.
2. If you are my friend, I will not judge you.
It could be an acquired habit from writing two papers on Facebook but I tend to scrutinize people’s Facebook activities and wonder why they are doing what they are doing. If you’re my friend, I won’t judge you by what you are doing, I may label other people as attention-seeking, lonely or narcissistic but I won’t do that to you. You can do whatever online, I don’t really care because I know you as the offline self and most importantly, because I just can’t bring myself to analyse my friends that critically.
3. If you are my friend, I won’t talk to you about what happened on Facebook.
I find it awkward when people asked me things on my Facebook and discussed about them. It could be information I would have shared with them anyway but just the fact that they learnt something about me from Facebook and not from me makes it awkward. I also find it awkward when people discuss about who posted what on Facebook. I feel social media has a life on its own as some things that make sense there just don’t make sense offline and to bring it offline just makes things awkward.
4. Finally, if you are my friend, I would want our friendship as reflected on Facebook to be as sparse as possible.
Because I don’t need to tell the whole world how close we are or how much you mean to me. You know that and that’s enough.
So if I don’t appear to be too interested in your Facebook life, please don’t run away, it could be because you are my friend.