Words by Chris McPherson – Web Editor
A tale of social media separations: It’s hardest on the mutual friends.
College is one of the most intense social environments young people will experience in their lifetime. Millions of students, enrolled in universities throughout the world, are thrust into a new realm of human interaction. Meeting dozens of people everyday, subliminally engaging with hundreds.
We now live in a world where the girl who asked for your notes from last week’s history lecture just friend-requested you on Facebook, the guy who serves you eggs every morning in the dining hall just followed you on Twitter, and the treasurer of the club you go to every other week just liked the picture of your lunch on Instagram.
According to experts, human understanding is grounded in both verbal and non-verbal communication, such as voice tone and body language. Social media eliminate entirely those fundamental methods of communication.
Let’s set up a scenario: You have a friend who’s upset with you. You have no idea why, and she has yet to vocalize the issue. But when the two of you are together, you can tell by such things as her disposition, eye contact, and tone that something is wrong.
Another scenario: The same friend is upset, only this time she chooses to relay her feelings through social media. You decide to write an extensive wall post on her Facebook page reminiscing on a fun time you had at a party last year and mention that you need to catch up. Instead of reciprocating that long textual brigade of faux social interaction, your upset friend merely “likes” the post. No comments. No reply on your wall. Not even a personal message or a follow-up text.
Some may say the face-to-face animosity hurts more, but I can safely speak for a large portion of the college population that having someone merely “like” your wall post without responding in any way can be annoying. I would go as far as to say that it’s even more disrespectful than responding to a long text with “K” or, worse, “KK.”
Now that the entire world is focused on social media, it is interesting to note the effects they have had on relationships and other means of human connection.
I am no stranger to the emotional restraints of social media — I recently had a falling out with a friend of mine. In the past year, there had been so much drama between us that she and I decided to just take it one step at a time. We met in college at the State University of New York at Oswego, and I graduated from there in May. Now a graduate student at Syracuse University, I figured some time apart could help our friendship in the long run.
After an entire summer of awkward encounters and random texts, we decided to keep the drama in the past and remain “cool as a cucumber,” as she put it. “Cucumbers are pretty cool, love them in my salad,” I replied.
In my eyes, our problems were solved. Although we couldn’t come to any definitive conclusions, we agreed to maintain an open mind and move past our petty issues. Whoever was wrong — it didn’t matter. She was even cordial enough to invite me to a party at her house.
A couple days later, as I was browsing through Facebook, I was surprised to see that our status had changed. She defriended me, deleted me without warning from her cyber life. I was confused more than anything. Did she think I wouldn’t notice, or was she just playing a game, hoping I would friend her back?
I then browsed through Instagram and saw that she had unfollowed me. Now I knew she meant business. She was trying to delete me from her life. No longer could she browse through an Instagram timeline of filtered duck faces and scroll past a picture of my Chipotle burrito bowl. She wanted me gone, and she did it through the most insincere way possible.
Most friendships don’t last. They tend to either fade away with time or dramatically end because of interpersonal conflict. The question is, if a friend randomly deletes you after you spoke a couple days before, what should you do?
It’s one thing to delete the girl you had History 101 with four years ago and don’t speak with at all. But when wanting to end things with someone, do you just delete her on Facebook and call it a day? It seems that social media have not only become an easy way to jump-start a friendship, but also an alternate way of cutting ties while avoiding human interaction. Perhaps Facebook can be a great tool for those who sit by their computers, concealing their unvoiced apprehensions. But for me, face-to-face interaction, the old-fashioned form of communication, is the only way to go.