And so it all ends with the click of a mouse.
I’ve unfriended people on Facebook many times in the past.
It usually happens when some twit I’ve never met in the real world says something monumentally stupid or incredibly rude and I ask myself “why in the four-alarm freaking hell am I keeping this asshole in my life?”
Then I press the button and make them disappear. It can be a very satisfying experience.
There are few things more fruitless than a Facebook pissing contest and, having weathered more than a few of these online fiascos, I am looking to find better things to do with my time.
But my most recent unfriending was quite different from the usual routine. And much more painful.
This person was a former best friend of mine who cut himself out of my life for reasons I still haven’t quite figured out.
We met about 20 years ago at a job in Manhattan and we just hit it off. My friend--I’ll call him Phil--was a great guy with a fabulous sense of humor. We started hanging out and the friendship continued—and blossomed—after I left that horrible place.
Most weekends, Phil and I would do something together—take in a movie, have a dinner, or go to a party. Unlike me, he knew a lot of people and I had some terrific times with him.
He was there when my mom got sick and came to the wake after we lost her. And it was the same when my dad became ill and died.
Then about six years ago it all went bad.
We didn’t have any big blowout or stupid argument. I almost wish we had because often you can repair that damage. In this case, however, Phil just slowly pushed himself away from me.
I believe it went south one night when he called me after some heavy drinking and told me about a personal problem.
Out of respect for our former friendship I’ll keep that part to myself, but I did everything I could to help Phil. I gave him advice and let him know I was on his side. I didn’t judge him or mock him; I just did my best to support him.
Then a short time later Phil stopped calling me. I left him messages and they were never returned. I can’t be certain, since he won’t talk to me, but I believe in my heart that he was embarrassed for having confided in me and when he sobered up he decided to wash his hands of me.
And Never Brought to Mind
I suppose there could be other reasons, but Phil was never one to hold back his opinions. Whenever I pissed him off in the past he made sure to let me know it. His sudden silence in this instance is quite unlike him—and quite telling.
I dropped the ball here, too. I could’ve confronted him, demanded to know why he had stopped talking to me. But that seemed so desperate and childish. If the guy doesn’t want to be my friend, I can’t force him. But perhaps I would have an answer, something I don't have now.
Facebook only made things worse. I’d see photos of him having a great time with people I didn’t recognize. He made a film—something I’ve been blathering about doing for decades—and I felt like I should be there with him.
And there was so many times both good and bad that I wanted him to be with me, from the publishing of my book to that horrible accident in December. Phil should’ve been there for those events and so many more.
I wrestled with unfriending him several times over the years. It seemed so petty—I’ll show you, I’ll click you out of my life and say nasty things about you behind your back.
But to be honest, I think I also kept him on Facebook in the pathetic—and apparently vain—hope that we could be friends again.
Finally, I found myself grieving over our comatose friendship pretty seriously last week and the Facebook connection felt like a sick joke. I had to call time of death on this thing.
I’ve lost friends before. People move, get married, have kids—there are any number of natural reasons to grow apart from someone, but there was absolutely nothing natural about this break-up.
It never should’ve happened.
I hesitated briefly before hitting the unfriend button and after I did it, I jumped over to LinkedIn and severed the professional relationship as well. Might as well cut all remaining ties.
It hurts, to be honest; it hurts like a bastard, because I really loved this guy. We were together for nearly 10 years and to have all of that wiped away for no logical reason that—at least that I can think of—is just fucking wrong.
I have to move on, though, as Phil obviously has. I want to thank him for all those good times we had and I wish him well.
But I really wish we were still friends.