But he held his ground. It was just an attempt to unclutter his life, he said. No offense intended.
Maybe not. And he may have the right instincts here. One can have too many friends.
According to Joe Queenan over at the Wall Street Journal, a self-promoting British anthropologist says human beings can only handle 150 relationships at a time. (Facebook says the average user has 130 “friends”.)
But Queenan says he prefers the old fashioned approach to the Facebook model of defriending, the one where you simply tell someone to bug off. He once sent a post card with photos of World War II cemeteries to an old friend he had come to dislike with the note: “wish you were here.”
He also once told a new acquaintance that it took Nixon 60 years for everyone to wish he would leave, and this new “friend” had managed it in only a week.
I suppose there is a need for a more straight forward approach. We’ve been deleting people from our Rolodexes for years, but Facebook makes it easier. And more obvious, in some ways.
But to “defriend” someone seems harsh, and somewhat unchristian. It’s not really. At least not always.
We just had a non-electronic experience with this. Katie and I (mostly Katie) had befriended a woman six years ago, running some errands, occasionally helping with some chores or even buying clothes or groceries. She has numerous health concerns and financial limitations, and Katie mostly provided a listening ear.
But she was becoming more and more needy, perhaps more and more demanding. We were getting several phones calls a day, often with unreasonable expectations. And accusations. So we finally said stop. Don’t call. We won’t answer the phone.
And we haven’t.
This is where you wonder what it means to forgive 70 times seven, as Jesus taught. But I’m pretty sure we were close. And after six years, she doesn’t seem to want to get better. She just seems to want more.
It’s problematic. She isn’t our actual neighbor, since she lives on the other side of town. And she was beginning to drain energy from our service to others—students, church members, even our own children. A black hole, our pastor said.
She left us a voice mail message yesterday and asked if we thought this was what we thought God would want us to do.
Yes, I told Katie. He’ll do it himself, someday.
We didn’t return the call. And soon we will quit listening to the messages.
There is nothing to forgive, really. Nothing to gain, nothing to do, nothing to learn that can’t be learned elsewhere.
It’s not sad. It’s just tragic.
And not as easy as clicking “delete.”
Have you defriended someone on Facebook? Why?
Have you been defriended? How did you feel?
How do you defriend someone gracefully? Online? Face-2-face?