Dear Courtney Simms Burnette,
I received your friend request. I chose to delete it.
But just this once, I want to explain why.
When I first jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, I thought people requested to be my “friend” as a way of popping in to say Hello; I didn’t realize they were there to stay.
Before I knew what happened, I had hundreds of people all up in my business.
I had “friends” I’d met only once, “friends” who I wouldn’t recognize if I saw them in public, and “friends” who were—well, you know—not actually my friends, like people I met somewhere or another, or co-workers, or even a few friends of friends whose requests I had accepted because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Visiting Facebook meant I’d have dozens of things to scroll through from people I’d accidentally chosen to keep up with. I was seeing pictures of kids I’d never met, hearing about people’s problems at work, seeing their vacation pictures, seeing the cute sayings they’d post, and hearing all about their politics and religion.
Problem was, I wasn’t very interested in keeping up with people I didn’t really know.
But Courtney, some people amazed me at the level of intimacy about their lives they were sharing with me, pretty much a stranger in so many cases. Some dazzled me with their closed-mindeness and bigotry. Some astonished me with their complete lack of regard for my own politics or religion. (A few even drove me about crazy with their constant updates, but I subsequently learned I could hide people like that. Whew.)
Then it occurred to me that all these “friends” were seeing everything I posted—all my photos, my status updates, my comments on other people’s posts. I feared I was revealing too much of my personal life to people I didn’t know, didn’t want to know any better, or maybe didn’t care about one way or the other.
So one day, Courtney, I just started deleting.
It dawned on me that at some point someone must have deleted me, and that I hadn’t found out or noticed, so I concluded that a message does not appear somewhere announcing that I deleted the following “friends” 22 minutes ago, nor does a message go to the former “friend” announcing that I deleted them.
All this deleting worried me a little at first, but soon it didn’t bother me at all, because I doubt anyone I deleted will ever miss me. I mean, once I saw that Maureen O’Connell Kingman from work had over 2,000 friends, I realized I must mean little to her.
In one sitting, I deleted 80 people.
Once I started deleting, I felt freed up to post what I wanted—to reveal more about myself, to share things about my beliefs, or to talk about my kids.
I no longer found myself rolling my eyes at near strangers, such as when Jenny Friedringer, who is not a real life friend, posted pictures of the diamond earrings and 9mm Glock she got for Mother’s Day.
I didn’t have to listen to Lauren Lee Smith Sorenson—someone I met at a work conference—go on about her husband leaving his wet bath towel on the floor.
I didn’t have to scroll past pictures of former high school acquaintance Wayne Millridge’s Mountain Dew can patio sculpture (which I admit was, um,… interesting) in order to see how my friend Lauren’s knee surgery went.
And I no longer had to listen to the girl with 2,000 friends try to save everyone.
I was relieved to have cleaned house!
Now Courtney, I want you to know that when you sent me the friend request, I did click on your picture to find out more about you.
First, let me advise you that you should adjust your privacy settings—everyone in the whole world can find out all the stuff I now know about you.
Second, it took me a little while to realize how we even met, such is the extent of our “friendship.”
Third, I notice that you and I, since we are not already friends in real, live life, are unlikely to be compatible, given the serious stance I noticed you have on matters where I have the opposite opinion—and let’s be honest, Facebook is not the place to cultivate a lacking relationship.
In short, Courtney, you would cramp my style.
So as politely as I can, and for my benefit as well as yours, I’ve chosen to delete your friend request.
I hope you understand.
Your distant acquaintance from a party on Broad Street back in January,
P.S. By the way, you know that picture of you and your husband on the cruise? I have that exact same sundress.