When Ethical Isn’t Practical: Reflections on the First Five Days

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Blogger’s Note: There are no New Cuts directly mentioned in this post. New cuts have been made but will not be posted until roughly twelve hours from now.

 

I’m quickly realizing that the act of de-friending often reveals more about myself than it does about the individual I’m de-friending. Since I didn’t enter the process with a pre-determined approach, the criteria I employ for each de-friending varies widely. I suppose the alternative to this approach  would be to go in with the mindset that you were going to cut a vast sub-group of your friend base. For instance, one might say, I’m going to cut everyone anyone who I haven’t talked to in five years or more or I’m going to cut anyone I actively dislike. This seems simple enough until you have to actually click the un-friend button.

 

As I’ve said before,  FBT’s (future big timers) are especially tough to cut.  But there is another category that might be equally difficult to get rid of. Call them “strugglers” or “sufferers.” While we all struggle with certain things in life, we also all have facebook friends who glaringly struggle more than our average facebook friends. They may be a mentally challenged former youth soccer teammate, they may be 26 and still struggling to come to grips with their sexuality, they may suffer from a chronic case of insecurity due to a physical deformity  weight issue(and try painfully hard to hide said deformity or weight issue in facebook photos), they may lead a life that is tragically subjected to ridicule for any number of  reasons, (sexual orientation, economic status, intelligence level, athletic ability, the list goes on and varies widely based on the compassion levels of any particular friend group).  It’s essentially an absolute facebook truism that we all have some of these people on our friend rolls who we may not actually be close with and I’m of the belief that a major reason for having some of these (and really any other sub-group of people) is that we are incredibly resistant to rejecting friend requests. This resistance to rejection is less prominent now than when facebook began, but during the pre-tagging, pre-status updating years of the site, it seemed that, short of an Al-Qaeda affiliate, standards for rejection were pretty much non-existent. I

 

Often, we may have felt good about ourselves for friending the most conspicuous forms of struggler. It all seemed so harmless. Like, “oh, by accepting this kid with severe autism from my boy scout troop, I no longer have to feel like I’m contributing to the incessant bullying he’s had to endure his entire life.” And surely some of the more cunning and mean-spirited facebook users friended strugglers for the sake of making themselves feel better about the banality of their own existences. You know there’s that guy out there who’s dreaming that his favorite dodge ball target from middle school is enviously perusing his newly tagged photos in the album “What Happens in Daytona Beach Stays in Daytona Beach.” Actually, the pictures you took with the waitress at Hooters and the 17 blurry photos that you took from the 9th row of a wet T-shirt  contest didn’t stay in Daytona Beach. They ended up all over your intended target’s newsfeed and your target wasn’t impressed. In fact, no one was. (Full disclosure: unless they’re a serious struggler, anyone even remotely resembling the individual I just described will not be my friend at the end of these 50 days).

 

But just because some strugglers inspire my sympathy doesn’t mean I should be facebook friends with them and if I were totally devoid of compassion they’d have been removed long ago. In fact, sometimes my compassion becomes a source of great irrationality due to my perceiving certain people as leading more difficult lives than may in fact be the case. I confess that political correctness can get in the way of my ability to make objective assessments on whether or not one is a struggler and whether or not their level of struggle renders them worthy of your virtual friendship. It’s one thing to lend your support to a kid who was perpetually bullied for being socially awkward, but it’s another to worry about de-friending someone because the fact that they’re gay causes you to fear that your de-friending decision will be interpreted as homophobic.

 

And this is where my original point about how de-friending reveals more about the de-friender than it does about the friend comes into play. For me, at least, the question I’m encountering more and more is how to make decisions that are simultaneously practical and ethical. But the cold, harsh reality is that you can’t de-friend your friend and have them too.  Because facebook intersects with all aspects of our lives (social, familial, professional, etc), this means that sometimes you have to cut a struggler with a good soul and keep an FBT who could get you a job a decade down the line.

 

I’m struggling with cutting some people and keeping others because I’m creating a protagonist vs antagonist complex among “friends”and it’s turning more and more of my decisions into epic internal monologues about my own identity and what I value in people. Maybe I should have listened to my friend who said “I like your blog, but if you really want it to go viral, you need to be more like Tucker Max.” Undoubtedly, I have a healthy dosage of asshole in me, as this whole exercise should have revealed by this point, but if I didn’t agonize over this, I also don’t think it would be worth discussing. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Comments
  1. Shelly says:

    I love the detailed back stories but I, too, vote for more Tucker Maxisms. fine, waffle a bit like we all would, but in the end, keep the FBT and drop the bitchy ugly girl you don’t really like like a bad habit. Its funnier (to me at least) to be slightly more outrageous than we all actually would be but secretly want to be.

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