All my (former) friends live in my Facebook newsfeed

Facebook stalking. Twitter profile skimming. Drive-by blog reading.

We all do it for our ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, our ex-wives and husbands. But what about our ex-friends. Or friends we don’t even know are our exes yet?

I got to thinking about all of this after reading a piece in New York Magazine about how my generation never really breaks up with our exes in the way our parents did. There is no “I wonder what happened to” moments of thinking because all it takes is a quick Facebook search, or a little creative Googling and the answer is there.

That is, of course, assuming you have already deleted their messages from your phone, or your email, and everywhere else these people of our pasts live digitally.

Of course, that piece was written more about romantic or sexual encounters, not so much for platonic friends, or those you thought you were still friends with.

Last week it was reported that Facebook makes us feel worse about ourselves (a quick Google finds that studies such as this are released every couple months, so put as much stock in that as you want). These two stories began to make me think.

The former is talking about people we know are out of our lives, or supposed to be anyways. Sure, there are the ex-boyfriends and ex-friends of mine that I casually check up on every now and then because I know their Twitter usernames, or because their Facebook profiles are still public because they don’t understand privacy settings.

But then there are the people who are currently in one’s life. Who you would refer to as a friend, who suddenly aren’t.

No more drinks or dinner spent together. Casual plans made, but never really followed through on. No more parties or celebrations. You’re cut out of their lives, but kept as a Facebook friend, so you still see all of these things happening that you’re no longer a part of.

Fear of missing out? Sure, FOMO comes into play here, but this is something deeper.

A generation ago, you and your friends would grow apart as you got older, or as life changed. It was no one’s fault really, just what happens as we grow as human beings. It would be so gradual, you wouldn’t even notice it had happened until a “I wonder what ever happened to…” thought would pop into your head.

Happy stories like this would end with reaching out to your old friend and having dinner or drinks while catching up on what was missed. It would be as no time ever passed.

That doesn’t often happen anymore.

Instead, you watch your friendships slide further away. See happy pictures of (former) friends at parties, at life, in Facebook albums and on Instagram in ’70s-era filters. They’re all there. But you’re not.

It’s not malicious. It’s not like they’re trying to make you feel lesser-than. Life has just happened and you’ve both gone different ways.

All of my exes may live in texts, but my (former) friends live on my Facebook newsfeed.

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Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth on how 9/11 would have been “more horrific” if social media existed at that time. (via Poynter)

Most of us learned about the events of that day in one of four ways — by television, by radio, by newspaper, or by a phone call from a friend. And while we are all incredibly grateful for the ways in which technology has enhanced our lives, I think we are also grateful that we didn’t live through 9/11 with all of that technology.

We didn’t have to see live video footage shot from inside the collapsing buildings and uploaded onto YouTube. Cellphones didn’t have cameras back then. … Can you imagine how horrifying it would have been if we had tweets from the victims on the planes or in the offices, or if they had posted to their Facebook pages?

… Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all the technologies that have yet to be invented make all these events more real, and more horrific. Television pales in comparison.

Poynter)&via=_sarahfoster&related=_sarahfoster">Poynter)">Poynter)">
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So about that Google+ thing…

Is Google+ the higher education of social networking?

That’s the thought that came to me tonight as I logged on to my Google+ account. I stared at my newsfeed stream for a few minutes when I noticed something.

Barring a few exceptions, a lot of the people I follow circle(?) are posting to Google+ ways the site can be used, what it’s good for, what makes it great.

That got me thinking about the beginning of Facebook, and even Twitter, when that kind of theorizing wasn’t done on the individual social networks’ platforms.

No one ever posted a status update on Facebook about how Facebook could be used, they posted passive agressive status updates.

It made me wonder: If Facebook was the high school of social networks, is Google+ the university of them?

But then if one were to factor in Twitter, I guess that would make Facebook the, gulp, junior high of social media.

It makes sense when you think about it. Especially for those of us who were in school at the time of Facebook’s rollout and got to experience a blissful (and parent-free) Facebook experience. Status updates were more personal. More direct. More aimed at your “friends.”

They could be used as a way of hoping the guy you were crushing on noticed you. Or to let the girl you went out with know you had a good time the night before. It was an indirect way to let your best friend know why you were mad. Pretty junior highish.

Then Twitter came along: “What are you doing?” it asked us. Like a high schooler’s social calendar, we filled in the details. We were shopping. We were on holidays. We were working. FourSquare was a nice addition to Twitter High, allowing us to let our friends know exactly where we were at all times.

Now we’ve moved on to Google+ (we’ll forget Buzz ever existed), and instead of playing with the network or trying to make it work, there’s so much theory. Almost a month in and I’ve already read about how journalists are using Google+. It took journalists (myself included), years to get on Twitter and now suddenly we’re embracing a social media RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE? Puzzling.

Perhaps it’s time we remembered what social networks are for: To be social.

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From Neil Strauss’ article “The Insidious Evils of ‘Like’ Culture” in The Wall Street Journal. And yes, I’m aware how ironic it is that I am sharing that article with you, but he makes some good points. So go read it, just don’t like it.

If you happen to be reading this article online, you’ll notice that right above it, there is a button labeled “like.” Please stop reading and click on “like” right now.
Thank you. I feel much better. It’s good to be liked.
Don’t forget to comment on, tweet, blog about and StumbleUpon this article. And be sure to “+1” it if you’re on the newly launched Google+ social network. In fact, if you don’t want to read the rest of this article, at least stay on the page for a few minutes before clicking elsewhere. That way, it will appear to the site analytics as if you’ve read the whole thing.

“The Insidious Evils of ‘Like’ Culture” in The Wall Street Journal. And yes, I’m aware how ironic it is that I am sharing that article with you, but he makes some good points. So go read it, just don’t like it.&via=_sarahfoster&related=_sarahfoster">“The Insidious Evils of ‘Like’ Culture” in The Wall Street Journal. And yes, I’m aware how ironic it is that I am sharing that article with you, but he makes some good points. So go read it, just don’t like it.">“The Insidious Evils of ‘Like’ Culture” in The Wall Street Journal. And yes, I’m aware how ironic it is that I am sharing that article with you, but he makes some good points. So go read it, just don’t like it.">
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