Today (November 17) is apparently “Official Un-Friend Day”. My “real friend” and colleague, Mike Kerr, posts the “Official Day” notification every day. Quite fascinating the “days” there are. I was going to write a Facebook post on this but it was getting too long so decided to blog about it. This is a fascinating subject to me and what I write here may not sound too good so be ready and put on your best tolerance behaviour because the first thing I want to say is why are so many people addicted to Facebook? By the way, I am not! In fact, if Facebook or quite frankly, social media somehow “disappeared” tomorrow, I’d be the first to celebrate. I participate in social media as a corporate decision, not a personal one. I’m relatively certain I have my feelings about this because of my career. Unlike the bulk of humanity, I am always around people. Just imagine if every day you went to work, the people in your “office” were completely new…Every Day! Welcome to my world! By the way, I do “love” my world. I can’t even imagine doing anything else but the simple truth is, since 1976 when I was Easter Seals “Timmy” in Saskatchewan and first took the podium, I have spoken to over 2,000,000 (yes, Million) people. Clearly, I haven’t met every member of my audiences, yet I still feel like I have met millions.
Allow me to stray from the headline about Facebook for a bit. When you have no arms, you get noticed. To be completely candid, it is exhausting! Not the getting noticed part, the engaging with people part. Obviously, I have been answering questions about “what happened to me” as long as I can remember. It goes with the territory. When I was a teenager, I remember clearly a conversation with my Dad about hating being so odd and being stared at all the time. Dad offered one solution that I never leave the basement and spend the rest of my life there. With typical adolescent drama, I rolled my eyes and said that was just stupid, to which Dad replied, indeed it was stupid. He added that life isn’t always fair and unfortunately, having no arms mean’s getting stared at and hearing ignorant questions. Typical of my parents, I was encouraged to turn a negative to a positive choosing to engage with people about my life rather than withdraw from it. I am not asking for a medal, I’m just saying that my choice to engage with people no matter where I am, can be tiresome. I can have a thirty second interaction and later that day, that person wants to “Friend” me on Facebook. What would you do? Thus my headline and this blog.
My guess is that around 2% of my Facebook Friends are actual friends. I truly do appreciate them and indeed, can see some merit in the idea. I am genuinely grateful to keep in touch with old and new friends,what they are up to, where they are travelling, kids, pets and it seems a lot lately, grandchildren. I don’t have any grandkids and am in absolutely no hurry either. I do enjoy the posts and the videos that are shared and I also enjoy sharing them and adding my own comments. But consider this observation. Some of the “Friends” I have accepted have an almost polar opposite point of view than me. There is a big irony coming here. I get that if we “Friend” someone, we tend to be on the same page with stuff and “like” them because of common ground. If we don’t actually “know” someone, we “Friend” them most likely because a friend of theirs is a friend of mine and again, common ground and even curiousity. I’m assuming that the 98% of my “Friends” I don’t really know are a combination of audience members both recent and historic (I get requests for “Friends” status from people who heard me as children in their school thirty years ago or more.), people who I have simply met on a plane, in a restaurant, at the grocery store, etc., fans who see me as a “celebrity” and the “Friends of Friends”. I know I am not unique in this, but I truly want to address the “elephant in the room”.
It seems if we don’t like something someone’s posts, or more importantly, someone disagrees with something we post, we just “Unfriend” them. Thus, “Today”. Official Unfriend Day. It is fascinating, isn’t it? I actually started changing the tone of this blog because I apparently was offending some people with my rants, which by the way, weren’t me just being mad and confrontational, but challenging people’s thoughts and viewpoints with the intention of encouraging people to open their minds to alternative ideas. Sadly, some people don’t like alternative ideas, just the ones they already have. That isn’t how I like to live my life.
So I’d simply like to know if you have “Unfriended” someone today, and if so why? Are you easily offended by someone’s opposite point of view? Have you been sucked into the vortex of a “Facebook” debate that sinks to personal insult? Do you feel a need to “validate” who you are on social media because of insecurity or a desire to feel popular? These are not judgemental questions, but they are what make me tick. My bias is only meant to be transparent. I came up with a new metaphorical observation. “The best way to learn and grow as a human being is to sit in their chair for a while because a different view can be a good thing!”
By the way, I won’t be “Unfriending” anyone today. We have company coming to Calgary enroute to his home in Kelowna. He’s spending the night in our guest suite and we are all going out to dinner. There will be some hugs, fine food, good wine and lots of stories and laughter. Nothing like “Real Friends!”