I dropped my best friend from my Facebook friends list. When I say best friend, I really mean it. I’ve known him longer than anyone I still see regularly, since middle school. I have other friends who I see more, and with whom I’m just as close, but my friend Dave has been my best friend since High School. We live a couple thousand miles apart, so Facebook was a great way for us to stay in touch. Still, I had to cut him.
He was the best man at my wedding. He gave a classic best man speech, the awful kind. He told my entire family that I had gotten a speeding ticket on the way to my bachelor party two nights earlier. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I have a history with speeding tickets. I mean, there have been warrants. I’ve been arrested. Now that I’m an adult, and I pay for my own car and my own car insurance, I feel the right to not tell my parents about my speeding tickets. But Dave called me out.
I was the best man at his wedding, too. For weeks before hand, I taunted him with hints about what my speech would be like. I’m not going to repeat what I told him I’d say, but the word “tiny” figured prominently. I shouldn’t have taunted him. His wife works for a congressman, and I was excited to be giving a speech in front of a Representative that I respected and admired. They waited until the congressman was gone before they handed me a microphone. My speech was actually heartwarming, pleasant and a little funny. It was about fishing. I made it up on the spot.
That’s not why I dropped him; I just wanted to offer some background. We didn’t get into a fight, either. We’ve only been in one real fight. It was a day off from camp. You only get one or two days off per month-long session. He wanted to do laundry. I wanted to hang out with my girlfriend. We started yelling at each other in the middle of the mall in Columbia, Md. It’s a nice suburb, and they weren’t ready for the kind of language we used. We were kicked out of the food court. The whole thing was funny enough that we just laughed, and the fight was over.
You’d think I’d be able to laugh it off, but I couldn’t stand being his Facebook friend any more. Right now, you might be thinking about someone on Facebook who annoys you. Someone who you want to drop, but don’t for some reason or another. Someone who posts too many announcements about her Café World progress. Not even Farmville. Café World. My kindergarten teacher is way too into Café World, but I don’t have the heart to cut her. She’s a really nice person.
I’ve cut people on Facebook for plenty of reasons. I’ve cut former students for using horrible grammar. I was an English teacher, what can I say? I’ve cut people for getting too religious on me. I have nothing against religion, but some people get excessive with the bible quoting, at least for my spiritual needs.
I’ve cut people when I realized, after a few months, that I don’t really know who they are, even though their name sounds familiar. So, I no longer want to hear about their horse training sessions or read their quotes from “Psych.” That show is lame. Also, if you quote Craig Ferguson, you’re out. I know, he has his moments, but none of them are worth repeating.
I cut people who promote themselves on Facebook, and that’s all they do. Mostly friends who are aspiring actors, musicians or comedians. Comedians are the worst. I can’t count how many times I’ve been invited to comedy shows at little basement clubs in the East Village. I live in Dallas. Stop inviting me. I didn’t come to your show when I lived in New York City. I won’t add comedians any more. Not unless they get really famous, and people will think I’m cool if I know them. That ain’t happening.
That’s not why I cut Dave. It was politics. I don’t mean I made a political decision, I mean national politics. Republicans versus Democrats. I don’t mind getting a little political on Facebook. If you have a problem with my way of thinking, politically, I don’t need to be your Facebook friend. I have friends who take many different sides: left, right, center and libertarian, whatever those people are. I like a good argument. Dave and I agree when it comes to politics.
Dave’s friends, however, are a different story. One in particular. He is one of those morons who argues incessantly without considering any logical or moral opposition to what he says. He quotes the cable news pundits word for word, and can cite many sources for his argument, usually from blogs I’ve never heard of.
He’s a troll, basically. I couldn’t comment on any link Dave would post without hearing from the troll. I couldn’t tag a picture without hearing from the troll. He completely disagreed with Dave, too. They were on opposite sides of the fence. The arguments weren’t satisfying or interesting. But every time I interacted with Dave on Facebook, I had to deal with the troll.
Sure, I could just ignore him, but that would defeat the purpose of Facebook. I didn’t add friends just to ignore them. I want the conversation. I want the back-and-forth.
I asked Dave how he knew this troll.
“He’s a dude who lived on my hall freshman year of college. He got kicked out when they found drugs in his room. I haven’t talked to him since then.”
A dude he hasn’t talked to in 17 years. A guy who got kicked out of college for drugs. Do you know how hard it is to get kicked out of college for drugs? It’s very, very hard.
At first, I tried to argue with the guy. I was relentless. Then I got personal. I hoped that by stooping even lower than his level, I could instill in him the same queasiness that I felt when I saw his name on a comment post. I brought up his former drug habit, his lack of education. His mother was mentioned in passing, not in a polite way. It didn’t work.
I asked Dave to drop him. It was a very weird conversation. I was basically asking my best friend to stop talking to someone else because I didn’t like him. But here’s my logic: If Dave threw a party every weekend, and this guy was always there, spouting his nonsense and offending other people, eventually I would stop going to those parties. Eventually, everyone would stop going. I was basically saying that I didn’t like hanging around with Dave on Facebook because of the people he associates with. I thought that was legitimate.
Dave wouldn’t drop him. He cited the First Amendment. The dude can say what he wants, and Dave would feel weird dropping someone because of what he says. I punched plenty of holes in that argument, then I gave Dave an ultimatum. Him or me. Dave wouldn’t drop him, and I don’t make a threat if I’m not going to carry through.
I dropped Dave.
I’d like to say this has the sort of happy ending you’re expecting. I’d like to say that dropping Dave actually brought us closer together. That I stopped lumping him in with all the other people whose updates I read daily on Facebook, and started treating him more like the best friend that he is. That we got closer because of this. But that didn’t happen.
I’m friends with Dave’s parents on Facebook. I’m friends with his sister, who is years older than us and was never really my friend. I have 350+ friends on Facebook, and Dave and I share 72 friends in common. 20% of my friends are his friends. Dave is also friends with an obnoxious troll, so on Facebook, at least, Dave is not my friend any more.
Tags:editorial, editorials, facebook, opinion, Philip Berne, social network, social networks