I’m planning a cull. A Facebook “friends” cull. I intend to be harsh. It’s for my own good.
For many years I have only added people I’ve met in real life and thinking it was the smart way to ensure that everyone in my cyber-circle was genuine. So this is not a tale of faceless, unknown in reality relationships, but rather one of real life connections made face-to-face (to be clear, when I add someone as a friend, it’s not because I want just an online friendship, rather as a way of connecting and sharing when we’re not face-to-face). Yet I have realised majority of them actually aren’t genuine at all when it comes to wanting me in their lives. Oh I have known this for some time now but have clung to the hope that I was wrong. However now is the time to cut loose.
Over the years I have discovered that there is a distinct difference in what classifies as friendship in the US (what I grew up with) vs friendship in the UK (what I am currently experiencing). People here seem to be polite enough and seem to want you in their lives but never quite see it through. Promises of “meeting up” or doing something together are plentiful but they rarely lead anywhere real. To me this is just window dressing. These people appear to say these things just for the sake of saying them; never truly meaning them. A favourite saying is “I’ll check my diary”. This I say as not only have I experienced it countless times but one of the rare true friends I have has also been fobbed off with this comment. It’s code for “never gonna happen but I’ll string you along as it makes me feel like I’m being polite”.
Back home in the USA, when people say “let’s get together”, they tend to mean it – at least that was always my experience. There is no unspoken code hiding within their words. If they don’t want to meet up with you, they don’t offer. It may sound harsh but there is a refreshing honesty about that. You always know where you stand with people. There is no pretence, no fakery, no bullshit. I’m not saying it never happens over there but that I never experienced it. The people I met and knew were genuine.
They also seem quite cliquey here in the UK and it’s very hard to break into their circles. I thought for a long time it was because the people I was meeting had grown up together but that didn’t hold true. I began to feel it was because I’m not “British” and so was experiencing a form of XXX. I was the outsider as was evident by my “accent”. I made attempts to acclimate myself to the ways of these people so as not to seem intrusive. That didn’t work. It was never going to work as it meant trying to suppress the real me. I think that’s impossible as “me” always pops out regardless of what I do and I’m truly happy about that.
In the USA, when I met someone I hit it off with, they welcomed me into their fold. They introduced me to others they hung out with and it was so easy to get to know more people through that one connection. People were open and accepting and those who weren’t didn’t pretend – they let you know if they didn’t get you or your vibe. That didn’t mean you were shunned by the whole group, just that you didn’t interact with the few that didn’t particularly like you (or vice versa). But you ended up with a large circle of friends who all got along (for the most part) and hence you had lots of options. From my experience, it was like the TV show Friends – we were in and out of each others homes all the time, dropping by without pre-arranging anything and we knew everything about each others’ lives. We had real connections and bonds that didn’t break over petty things (I have been surprised at the number of people who have ruined things over the smallest of things here and not just my experience but others’ too).
Here, people don’t seem to do that whole introducing you to their other friends thing. It’s like they have segregated friendships – these people here, those people there and you (sort of) somewhere else. I find it very strange and damaging to my sense of self-worth. I feel constantly on the outside and never worthy of being brought into the inner circle. Ultimately, it can make me feel merely tolerated and as if my so-called friend is ashamed of me. I can honestly say that I never felt like that until I moved to the UK.
I spend a lot of time on my own these days and have been trying to use this time in a beneficial way (beneficial to me, my happiness and sense of self). It’s allowed me to cut through all the bullshit and see things (and especially people) for what they really are. I find myself longing for the type of connections I once had yet I am no longer disillusioned by the words I hear. I am now basing my decisions regarding my “friends” lists on people’s actions. I will no longer hang on and wait for that diary date that never materializes because that’s no way to live your life constantly waiting for something and it generates feelings of resentment and foolishness within me. I will not continue to be the one who always initiates contact with people as it isn’t good for me – it makes me feel unvalued and unwanted. I would rather have no one on my “list” than a slew of people who do not actually care about me, who don’t really want to spend time with me, who basically don’t value me.
So for those who may find themselves “unfriended” I say thank you for helping me to decide to choose myself, for showing me what does me more harm than good and for letting me see who my real friends are. I shall miss the potential of our friendship but not the negative feelings associated with it.
To those who remain on my “friends list”, know that I value our friendship highly. I feel blessed to have you in my life. You are the few and the rare whom I call my tribe!