by Madeline Laughs
How easy is it to lose a friend on Facebook? It’s as easy as hitting a keystroke on your keyboard. What expedites the loss is when you have a third party involved that wants the friendship to end more than anything. I recently watched this play out and was completely unaware of what was happening until it was too late to help fix things.
Imagine three friends, Debbie, Betty and Mary. All have a great time exchanging ideas and thoughts on Facebook. Betty and Mary have actually known each other in real life for several years and are about the same age. The third friend, Debbie, is about 25 years younger than them, but very smart and quick on her feet. Debbie has never met the other two women, but has interacted with Betty online for a year or so.
When Betty goes on an extended vacation, the other two stay in touch. In fact, they start to compare notes. “Betty said this and this and this when I asked her about that.” Debbie responds right away with “Well, that’s not what Betty told me.” And so the game begins and ends with both of the friends finding out that they had been lied to by Betty.
Mary is rightfully perplexed. She has been made out to be the bad guy in all of this. Why in the world would Betty say these things behind her back? They had known each other since they were young and she was under the impression they were still very close friends. Debbie was not only much younger, but had never met either of them and yet Debbie was being confided in with information that was detrimental to her.
Debbie had questions of her own. “What has Betty said about me?” Mary has no idea what to share so just starts telling her what she’s heard from Betty about the younger woman. It turns out that not much of what was shared with her by Betty about Debbie was truthful. Now Debbie is miffed too.
They both decide to confront Betty and ask for the truth the minute she comes home.
In the meantime, the two women become daily friends on Facebook. They Like each others posts and they exchange daily private messages as well as talking on the phone. Eventually Betty’s name fades from their exchanges and they talk about their lives with each other and it’s as if Betty never existed.
The afternoon Betty reappears online Debbie is overjoyed to see her. They engage in small talk about her vacation and get right back on track. There’s no mention of a confrontation and Mary starts to realize there is a coolness being directed at her from the younger woman. Perhaps she had misunderstood Debbie’s intentions? Or perhaps Debbie has decided not to make any waves with people she knows only online and has no real investment in. Mary decides to let the whole thing go, but to exercise some caution with her two friends.
Playfully engaging in banter with Debbie on her page one night, Mary is lambasted by another of Debbie’s Facebook friends. Mary waits for Debbie to come to her rescue, but Debbie has completely disappeared from the thread. Exiting the verbal beating herself she sends a private message to Debbie asking her what her friend’s problem is. Debbie tells Mary that she has no idea what she’s talking about, but she’ll go back later and read the exchange.
A week passes and there’s no word or explanation from Debbie. In fact, Debbie has become nonexistent in her day to day online world and Mary wonders why.
One night in a private chat with Betty, Mary confronts her about the derogatory things she said to the younger woman about her. Betty denies most of it, but Mary doesn’t entirely believe her. Mary asks her if Debbie is angry with her now because of anything Betty has told her and the older woman says “She’s not mad because of anything I did.” And to prove her point she copies in a private message Debbie had sent to her ridiculing the way Mary had handled the exchange with her other Facebook friend. Well, that sealed it up nicely for Mary. Without blinking an eye she deleted Debbie from her friend list.
What Mary should have done, considering the history between the three women and considering what she learned from Debbie about Betty’s penchant for bending the truth, was stop dead in her tracks and contact Debbie to ask for her account. But she didn’t do that.
Betty was shocked, “Why did you do that?” Mary explained it the best she could, “Look, the two of you have been online friends a lot longer than I have been. I asked Debbie that night what the problem was and she acted like it wasn’t a big deal. All she had to do was be honest with me about it. Instead she did the same thing to me that you two have been doing to me all along. She discussed it behind my back and made me look like I had done something wrong instead of telling me right then what she really thought. I’ve had enough duplicity from both of you. Consider me out of the loop.”
That’s how easy it is to lose a friend on Facebook.
Since then, even though Mary had asked Betty not to discuss her choice to delete Debbie with her, the other two women had talked about it. Mary signed on to Facebook one morning to find that now Debbie had blocked her. What reason could she possibly have for making such a hostile move? When she asked her old friend Betty about this new development, Betty got very defensive and feigned absolute innocence. Mary didn’t believe her.
Rather than allow Debbie to hear only one side of the story, which had been going on long enough, Mary sent her an email explaining why she deleted her from her Facebook list. It was never a hostile move, but a defensive reaction to once again being the odd woman out, the one gossiped about. Mary thanked Debbie for sharing an uncomfortable time with her and told her she was grateful for the support she had offered once Mary realized just how much her old friend had betrayed her. Mary wrote; “It’s not that I don’t think of you as my friend Debbie. I happen to like you very much.” Debbie has never answered her.
To date, the three women are still not friends. In fact, the colossal amount of lies Betty told has destroyed all three of their friendships. None of them know who they can trust or which one of them is telling the truth.
It’s true, you can be whomever you please on Facebook. You can tell people whatever you want to tell them and none of it ever has to be the truth. But be aware that someday there are going to be people that compare notes and all of your lies may come tumbling down around you if you’re not careful. This may cause you to lose an online friend, or two, or it could cause you to lose the one person in your life that made a huge positive impact on you. It just depends on how honest you want to be and how much your friends really mean to you.
Good luck out there in cyber-friend land. You’re going to need it!
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