Updated: Sep 22, 2019
A former colleague and friend—or so I thought—got pissed and de-friended me on Facebook because I said something she didn’t like. Aren’t friends allowed to say what they think? Evidently, this friend doesn’t think so, a woman who lives in a distant city and who will never read this blog because she probably does not subscribe. We will call her "Rosie."
She’s well into her late fifties, although we met when she was not quite thirty. I hired her for two different jobs. I went to her wedding. We’ve kept in touch over the years, online only over the past ten or so. I haven't seen her in years, but Rosie and I have shared so many common experiences, I always felt like she and I were peas in a pod. Close cousins.
Rosie is not perfect, and neither am I. She’s always been one of those attention-seeking types, and I accepted that about her because I liked her and enjoyed her company. But on Facebook, you can really tell a lot about a person’s psyche.
Rosie’s Facebook Page is All About Rosie
Rosie changes her profile photo almost daily, or at least every week, to the expected raves from friends. Many are photos showing Rosie as a young, pretty girl; a high school cheerleader, slim in jeans; her wedding day, gorgeous in her gown. I suspect she regrets that she’s gained weight over the years, as have I, but Rosie, well, let’s just say she might outweigh me. In addition to the profile photos, there are hundreds of selfies of Rosie at football games, rooting for her beloved college that she seems not to have outgrown. And photos of Rosie at professional meetings, with captions thinly masking Rosie’s attempts to gain raves for her achievements, and there are many. I'm not diminishing her success.
Other than herself, Rosie posts photos of a male neighbor whom she dislikes because he seems obsessed with neighborhood affairs (although Rosie seems obsessed with peeking out the window to take photos of him). And there are many photos of deceased family members, who reappear on Facebook at least monthly, along with heartfelt captions about how much Rosie misses them.
In addition to the photos, there are lengthy essays about Rosie’s life history, her mom and dad, her brother. And essays about how to conduct oneself on Facebook, the Rosie way. “When someone posts something I don’t like, I never say anything snarky.” Yet, Rosie posts vicious remarks about her neighbor, a man she derisively nicknamed "Gizmo.” Last I heard, it was against the law to post photos without someone’s permission, but that point seems to elude Rosie. There are also Rosie’s lectures about how she would never post a political comment, but then, just this once, she must speak out on a certain political topic.
It’s About Me! Ever Know Someone Like This?
About two weeks ago, there was a lengthy post that Rosie was going off Facebook in anticipation of the contentious election cycle, along with the reasons she felt she had to close her account.
I (and most of her friends) replied that we would all miss her perspectives. And I would. I’ve been very negative in this post about her, but there are many of Rosie’s posts that I do also enjoy. She’s a bright, funny lady on the better side of the coin.
Because Rosie and I have been friends and correspondents for about 30 years, I have accepted her attention-seeking behavior as simply, “that’s the way she is.” But over the past five years, I found it puzzling that Rosie has never read any of my novels, at least to my knowledge, and when I post a comment on Facebook about my writing, she does not respond or reply. This makes me wonder if Rosie is either envious or else, she might have read and disliked them, but just didn’t say. Since most of my close friends have read and reviewed in support of my writing, and say they truly enjoy my work, I took note that Rosie did not do the same. I’ve also noticed that Rosie never extends an invitation to get together for lunch when she’s in town, which is often.
Just this week, Rosie announced on Facebook that she was entering her fall football cycle, and if we objected to her constant posts and pics about her beloved football team, to defriend her now. I assumed she was saying this ironically and with a good dose of humor. However, I secretly dreaded the onslaught of Rosie’s football obsession...selfies driving to the game, Rosie and her equally obese husband in bright collegiate colored hats, sweaters, pants, purses, shoes, you name it, goofy paraphernalia, so much in your face with a “look at me, look at me” desperation that I had decided to “hide” Rosie for three months to avoid her maniacal fixation.
Is Rosie Missing a Family?
One time, Rosie explained her football passion in a lengthy missive about her father and brother, and how her dad would take her to games, so she loves going because it’s like being with her father and brother again. Well said, but can’t she do this without so many selfies driving to the game, sitting in the stands dressed in goofy outfits, and then selfies after the game at all her former collegiate haunts? Not just once a season, but every single weekend during fall football season? Is that normal?
My first mistake in responding to Rosie’s post about her upcoming football cycle was not simply and very silently “hiding” Rosie. Because I’d always felt we were close pals who could jibe one another, I opted to comment sarcastically, “I thought you were going off Facebook.”
That definitely hit a nerve because Rosie became defensive, and our discussion deteriorated from there. Mistakenly, I had thought Rosie would get a kick out my sarcastic joke, but apparently, she is sensitive about this football issue.
Next, my second error was in trying to explain my point of view. I told Rosie that I simply could not root for the football team that she so adores because I went to a different university where my first husband was the quarterback. When you’ve loved and rooted for the quarterback of an opposing team, you cannot later change colors. I added that I have since moved on from college-football fandom, preferring to do other things on Saturdays than “relive my college days.” Okay, so that was a zinger I should have left off. I admit to having foot-in-mouth disease.
Offended, Rosie sent me a private message that she thought it better we disconnect from Facebook. I would have replied, but she already had defriended me, so I did not have the chance to soothe the feelers I clearly had ruffled.
So, a Thirty-Year Friendship is Over?
If you think I’m merely too mouthy, which, yes, is one of my many faults, let me defend myself by saying that Rosie is no shy flower. In fact, Rosie is a woman who dishes it out daily, opining on many touchy topics on Facebook, her posts veiled by a mound of soap-box bubbles. I can always read through airy gist and I agree with most of her points.
Although I did not want to lose her as a Facebook friend, lately it has always seemed that the online Rosie is clinging to the yesteryear of her youth. If I were a shrink, I’d say she is searching for a family, who will adore her, no matter what.
Sadly, she never had children. I say “sadly,” but Rosie once told me that she didn’t want to bring children into this world, because it was such a mess. I tried to see that decision as somewhat honorable, although I didn’t. I think being a mother is one of life’s more noble achievements, far beyond any professional roles. But as Rosie’s Facebook page has evolved over these past 10 years, I surmise that she did not have room in her life for children, because she would have to stop seeking attention for herself.
Regardless, I considered emailing her an apology, but then thought again. Perhaps it is time to disconnect this longtime, now solely online friendship. Looking back, what has Rosie done for me? Read my novels? Give me a review or send encouraging words? Arranged to meet me for lunch when she’s in town?
Maybe I need our friendship to also be about me. Instead, it's been reduced to Rosie’s posts on Facebook, look at me, I’m the fabulous Rosie, yadda, until I've realized that her decision to “defriend” me might be the best thing for me as well. Friendships are two-way streets, but Rosie’s street runs only one way.