Unfriend?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I lost a close friend this weekend. Our friendship probably ended months ago, but it became official on Saturday. Strangely, we didn't scream at each other. We didn't even talk about the conclusion of our friendship.

Instead, she quietly deleted me on Facebook. Staring at the "add friend" button on her Facebook profile, I started to think about how our friendship began and how it eventually disintegrated. I met her my freshman year of college; she was a friend of my then-boyfriend.

Soon, we found we had much more in common than a mutual friend. We both studied English, liked the same music and had a sarcastic sense of humor. When she graduated from college and moved to Japan during my sophomore year, we continued to talk.

Our discussions became more serious during this time. She began having difficulty making friends in Japan and told me that few of her college friends kept in contact with her. These friends, she implied, were interested in the fun part of friendship and didn't want to talk to a depressed person. She confessed to feeling like she'd never fit in during college even though she was, by all accounts, a pretty popular person in our social circle.

I admitted to her that I felt the same way; the social group my then-boyfriend thrust upon me had never accepted me. I always felt unwanted at parties and get-togethers. I felt such a deep connection to my friend after learning how she felt about those so-called friends. At one point, she even told me that I reminded her of herself.

We stopped talking as much in late 2013 when I broke up with my boyfriend. A year later, I told her that he had been abusive toward me. Then I revealed this to everyone in our social circle, knowing I was done with my ex-boyfriend and hoping I could use my experience with him to illuminate the way emotional abuse works.

She seemed supportive at first. We planned to meet up this January when she was in Northwest Arkansas but those plans fell through. This was my fault; I didn't contact her when I should have because I was traveling so much. I sent her a message apologizing a couple of weeks later, and she didn't respond.

She finally wrote back when I tried again a few months after that, telling me she didn't feel like talking because she was depressed. I respected her wishes and assumed she'd contact me when she wanted to.

Months passed. I discovered in July that she'd moved back to Northwest Arkansas without telling me, and I didn't know what to do. I found out from photos of her hanging out with that same social circle that abandoned her when she was in Japan. Then she deleted me on Facebook and I realized that she didn't want to talk ever again.

The end of the friendship really did take me by surprise. While it's not uncommon for friends to drift apart, social media has aggravated the situation more than ever. I felt like I was watching a car crash in slow-motion, knowing the impact was imminent but frozen in place anyway.

I couldn't reach out to her. I couldn't ask her why she moved back without telling me, because I knew the answer to that question. I couldn't pretend we hadn't drifted apart, because we obviously had. When she deleted me on social media, she deleted all hope I had for our friendship. She used social media to passive-aggressively let me know she didn't want me to be a part of her life, and I'm not sure how to feel about that.

I am sure that this happens far more than it should. Liking has replaced talking. Sharing something online is now the way people announce life-changing news. You can end a friendship with the click of a button instead of talking about it.

Sadly, most people have accepted this as the new way of doing things. By silently allowing my friendship to wither until it was deleted, I am now one of these people.

I don't think I like that very much.

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Samantha Jones is a reporter for the Carroll County News. Her email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com.