Do I know you?

Bailey’s post about the awkward struggle of accepting family members and family friends’ friend requests and the ensuing judgement got me thinking about all of the friends I have on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts.

While I am *blessed* to have somehow dodged that sticky situation myself, I do face another struggle almost every day. That issue is that I am friends with a lot of people that I have only met in passing or have never met at all. This is all good and well until you run into these people in everyday life and you have to make the decision to:

  1. Say hello to your acquaintance
  2. Ignore them and pretend they are a complete stranger

I often times (and by often and I mean all the time) choose the second option for fear of being the awkward person saying hello to someone who doesn’t know who I am. If someone says hello to me, of course I will say it back. But I always air on the safe side to avoid putting myself in a socially awkward situation.

Although it sounds really silly, this problem is only growing more severe every day as our real-life communities become even more intertwined with our digital ones. People share so many details of their lives on social media that I begin to feel like I am actually friends with them without ever having a conversation with them. Once you have been friends with someone on Facebook for a while you see people grow up and achieve things and reach major milestones. You see their successes and their failures. These details are far more intimate than ones you would ever know about them if they were not part of your digital community.

A girl that I went to elementary and middle school with just had twins and she posted pictures from the hospital on Facebook – and I saw them. She shared these photos so friends could see them, but these posts get seen by IRL friends and everyone else you are ‘friends’ with on social media. This was an extremely personal moment that I (who am basically a stranger) got to see. And that’s really weird.

Social media is great for keeping up with your friends because you share your life with them. However once you start adding people that aren’t IRL friends, you begin to keep up with them, too. This results with you knowing just as much about complete strangers than you do your real friends.

Emma vanBree

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