Thursday, November 17, 2011

What I keep forgetting about the notion of "friends" on Facebook.

Earlier this afternoon, I unfriended someone who I had known since the early days I participated in L.A. poetry.  We got along fairly well and I even gave him rides to and from readings.  I knew he had a less-than-positive opinion of the poems I wrote at the time, but I (sometimes with swallowed discomfort) accepted it and was happy to have at least an acquaintanceship with him.

Recently, the poet (now living in another state) took to Facebook to complain on a topic I could empathize with--feeling marginalized and perhaps pushed out by a dominant faction in his poetry community.

I read his post and the comments from his friends in the other state wishing him well and hoping he'd continue his poetry/publishing activities.

Backchannel, I wrote him a letter (duplicating the well-wishes described above) and got a terse response of, essentially, "it's nothing, just problems with someone in City X."

I wished him well nonetheless--and later, I noticed he posted another (apparently related to the earlier post) complaint about "incest" in poetry (presumingly about cliques of poets who have a narrow who's in/who's out policy--also something I have awareness of).

And there were supportive comments from his recent friends.

This made me realize that he thought of me (who knew him over a two-year period) as someone not worth talking to even on a superficial level about what was bothering him.  Perhaps he wanted to hear from the "right" people in his city/state.

So, I unfriended him.  This likely made me a bad Facebook "friend" or perhaps "petty" to some people's thinking.

But it was a reminder of the lesson that one should think very hard about the people you are tempted to friend--and that this social network contract be based on something a little more substantive than cursorily knowing someone for a few years, months or days

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