Has Facebook the right to erase my past ?
Now that we are all bound to social networks « pour le meilleur et pour le pire » it is time to analyze the side effects on our private life. Unfriend is one of the most unpleasant and tricky facility offered by Facebook. By giving the unilateral right to one FB user to restreint, unfollow, unfriend or block a « friend » or rather an « ex-friend », Facebook has given to one human being the right to deny the past of another human being. Why ? Because when someone has been pro active texting you, posting night and day, sending you videos and images and fun emojis almost everyday for three years and suddenly decides he or she has nothing to do with you anymore, expect your whole virtual life to disappear with the unfriending/blocking process. Unfriending and blocking not only means that you stop being friends with someone, why not, it happens in real life, but it means that all your own posts, comments, publications of the years preceding the death sentence will disappear from you past news feed if they are tagged or associated with your ex FB friend… just as if you never existed. Suddenly you have no more past life, no trace of shared events and shared frienship or love story.
Facebook plays God and decides who can stay alive and who deserves to die. « L’enfer c’est les autres » once wrote the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre : Facebook offers a fast way to get rid of «the others » when they threaten our ego, do not meet our expectations or simply when you begin to feel the grass might be greener on another Page. « I look at unfriending as the nuclear option — if you’re unfriending someone you’re actually close with in real life (a family member, perhaps), it can cause real issues. » writes Amy Vernon in Quora. « Blocking is the nuclear option. Once you block somebody it’s as if you no longer exist to each other. » says John Pettit, CTOin A Guide to Blocking Obnoxious “Friends” on Facebook Medium. You will find in his article all the subltilities going from unfollow to block.
Blocking on Facebook: the nuclear weapon
Blocking is a Nuclear weapon indeed. I’ll try a metaphor. How would you like it if someone could get into you house and steal all the postcards, letters, photos, paintings and memories of your past life ? Facebook is a burglar!
Where are the glorious sunsets, the Riviera palm trees, the white sand beaches of Greece and Italy ? Where are the streets of Lisbon ? The magic night in a Vintimiglia Palazzo ? Our ship cruising in Malta cristalline waters ?Where are the thoughts and naïve philosophy posters that we shared ? Facebook has introduced me to interacting and sharing as an art of today, is it fair to steal it back ? Hundreds of comments and thoughts and images on our own Journal and Feed are indeed part of our past life, just as social networks are part of our present life. Being dumped without a word hurts wether it is real or virtual « Some say online friends aren’t the real thing; just pixels and pictures on a screen. Well if it isn’t real — then why does it hurt so much? The sense of bewilderment is toughest. The, “Why won’t you tell me what I did wrong?” feeling that won’t go away. »
And we cannot help to think of the wonderful breaking up letters we can find in litteraturefrom Françoise Sagan to Marguerite Duras. Trying to express your feelings to the person who was so close to for many years is the least a human being can do. Though we can also find some perverse brutal closures in litterature, the most famous one is in « Les liaisons dangereuses » by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. « Adieu, mon Ange, je t’ai prise avec plaisir, je te quitte sans regret : je te reviendrai peut-être. Ainsi va le monde. Ce n’est pas ma faute. “ »
Unfriend side effects and social repercussions
With unfriending/blocking Facebook is encouraging an immature, coward, rude behaviour. « A study out of Nottingham Trent University in the UK found that Facebook users tend to put up with bullying in their network for basically the same reason they did in high school. Because as obnoxious as those “mean girls” and bullies are, they’re still popular.” But we are not high school kids anymore, we are adults some of us have passed sixty. Should we behave like teenagers ? What is this urge to erase and deny our past and treat a person as she never existed ?
Envy might be another shameful motivation for unfriend : you played the popular one and suddenly you realize (according to the number of his/her friends) that your Facebook friend is 5 x or 10 more popular. than you. No way ! Bang Bang ! No more no more. “We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression. Facebook can be a very positive resource for many people, but if it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect.”
Jealousy : one of good friend disappeared from Facebook …and I kept wondering why why, until found out that a jealous female fury had blackmailed him into erasing any trace of me in his virtual Facebook life !
Erasing others or being erased is a negative use of Facebook and might lead to depression…make a positive use of social networks, more rewarding.
Silent treatment : and do not forget that narcisstic rage can punish you by giving you the silent treatment and blocking you is part of it.
Massive unfriending: I even found out that you can kill all your FB friends in just one click and a massive attack : Silent Mass Unfriends on Facebook. And why not block his or her whole circle of friends you were sharing ? Thay have developed a code for that ! TIP: If you block users from seeing your FB also block them from sending you messages!Tip: If someone is harassing you don’t just block them — block their close friends too. Because if you don’t they can have them watch you.
Unfriending a virtual friend hurts : It is strange to think that even if you have not met the person, it can hurt as well. « They hurt like hell if they come to an abrupt end. » writes Laura Marcus in The Telegraph« It’s so easy to dump an online friend. You need never see them again because of course, you never did. There are no consequences to ending a friendship this way. » Dumped on Facebook by a friend? Me too. Here’s why it hurts like hell”.
Facebook we love you but …
We love the facility of belonging to a group or creating a Page, we love live video and our calendar of events, we love to follow our friends and greet new ones. We love the work you put in innovation inventing new features and developing apps all the time.
Facebook is the realm of Manipulation
But we must admit that Facebook is the realm of Manipulators : stalkers, naricissistic perverts, mythomans, not to mention more dangerous social behaviours. Unfriending goes with the pretend trends and perverse codes born with social networks such as ghosting a lover — disappearing from his/her life without a word — or breadcrumbing potential lovers or ex-ones, which means keeping them around by rare posts, a kind line or a brief comment, a most frustrating habit for the breadcrumbed targets.
Beware of manipulators ! When you have spotted someone flirting on his/her public Page when he/she sends you private message saying they are madly in love with you, it might be wise to start to have doubts. Facebook is the realm of role playing and not to be aware of it leads to desillusion. Among fun practices is larping « ARP is an acronym for Live Action Roleplay. Thus the act of going to LARP is LARPing or Live Action Roleplaying. » Pretend to be someone you are not is a game « Pretending is one of the most ubiquitous experiences of childhood. I think we could all attest that some of our fondest memories of childhood took place in our imaginations. Larps are the natural graduation of these experiences into the adult world.
Well some men are NOTHING in real life but on their Facebook Page they are the King Lion, the Knight in Shining Armour « staging a fantasy world experience in which their character lives ». You find pictures of Miami beaches, stunning hotels in Italy, or shipcruising in Carabbean sea, he has never been there but …pretending works. A circle of female fans makes pathetic comments « I want to go there with you » « Come, fly with me ! ». There are rare cases when blocking an emotional abuser can be useful :
Block the abuser — Some victims don’t want to block the abuser because they feel better knowing what he is up to. That simply isn’t true. The abuser knows you are following and watching him on Facebook. They will only put things on there he wants you to read. It may or may not be true. But what is true is that following your abuser is a way that he can continue to communicate and manipulate you — so block him.
Facebook is the realm of Addiction
Sharing is fantastic new way of life but it can become an addiction and the worst of all. You can measure your Facebook addiction reading (in French) “10 signes que vous êtes addict à Facebook”. Sharing is a very personal choice when it comes to sharing with another person when you both feeel close. You easily get used to see them as a sharing partner, sharing information or emotion and life can be wonderful when it is punctuated by this daily or weekly complicity with your friends. When I first started with the Internet, there was a netiquette, a good behaviour code. It seems to have disappear and it is a shame. More than ever we need moral ethical codes. If we adults use brutality, if we lack courage for a face to face explanation with a friend we know in real life, if we do not bother to make a proper closure to several years of friendship in Facebook, what do we have to say to our children ? They are already fed with « bad behaviour » coming from everywhere, from apps to social networks. I was amazed to learn that teenagers would so a « spring facebook cleansing » : dumping a human being is ranked as a housework task ! And there are apps for that Friend Remover PRO App.
Blocking is brutal : use Soft Power
What Really Happens When We Unfriend Someone On Facebook? writes Katherine Marko (June 21, 2017). Well the fact is that nobody knows how the blocked friend is going to react, from « Good ! » to depression or even suicide if you used to share an intense virtual life. There are softer ways not to see this person in your news feed. “ All in all, unfriending is pretty unfriendly, and should only be used as a last resort. (…) Before you unfriend someone on Facebook, adjust your settings so you don’t see their updates.” Try real life says Marko : “But if you have real drama that needs sorting, don’t unfollow, unfriend or block your friend. Hash it out in real life — over coffee. Feelings get hurt when people become unfriended.” Think before you unfriend, unfollow or block.
Yes, try Re-Think : « My name is Trisha Prabhu, I am 17 years old inventor of ReThink. When I was 13 years old, I was spurred into action by the anger, sadness and frustration of the death of an 11-year old girl that committed suicide because she was repeatedly cyberbullied. (…) Together, we can stop this silent pandemic and promote internet positivity and responsible digital citizenship in young kids. »
It is a 13 years old girl that teaches us ethics with the app ReThink, before the damage is done !
Facebook I do not give you the right to revert My Past
When it comes to the past, I do not agree with facebook Politics when it comes to the right to delete my past Time Line posts or On This Day Feed : « Limit the audience for your old posts for your Timeline This will revert all your previous posts from “Public” or “Friends of Friends” to just “Friends”. But if you’ve tagged a Friend in one of your posts, their Friends can see that since that is the default setting when tagging someone. You can also choose to have someone removed from your On This Day Feed, so Facebook won’t resurface a person’s posts from years past ».Well I like my past to resurface and remind me who I am. Why offer On this Day if I am blocked to use it ?
Some Facebook users might have the feeling that deleting a Page and Opening a new one or deleting old Friends and finding new friends will help them to start a New Life. This is of course and illusion : we can decide to make changes in our life for the better, but we do not start a new life. We are made of our past, and life is about capitalizing good and bad emotion and experiences and learning from our mistake. Except in science fiction erasing who we were and who we are is not an option.
Facebook, do not let social networks turn us in cold monsters. Respect is a value that we should treasure. Please Facebook Re-Think your politics and privacy basics and treat users as human beings !
Janique Laudouar Le Blog de la Ménagère