What To Do When Old Friends Find You On Facebook
I don’t get these people from the past who suddenly reach out and contact you. What is this all about?
This person was a part of your life for a period of time and then – they weren’t! Now there could be a number of reasons for this. Legitimate, possibly complicated situations arose (everyone loves dabbling in unnecessary drama). Maybe you and this other person just didn’t have enough in common to maintain any kind of relationship after a certain point and just ran out of stuff to talk about. Essentially one or both of you silently agreed, “it’s over” and didn’t bother with it anymore. Or maybe one tried to keep it going, but the other just didn’t put in any effort to keep it going.
Whatever the reason it’s done. This person ended up having a walk-on role in the movie of your life, instead of a supporting part.
Which leads me to my little story. Out of nowhere someone out of the past contacted me. It was somewhat surprising since I hadn’t expected to hear from them….well ever again! We did our little time together and that seemed to be the end of it. I remember right around the time I realized the curtain was closing with us, I had attempted to keep some kind of contact going with them.
Unfortunately, two people have to be working to make that work. It would be much easier if your energy was enough to keep things going, but the other person has to carry at least some of the weight too. When they don’t it’s only a matter of time before it’s over. I did try, but as with most people they apparently couldn’t be bothered and they faded away in the mists of time.
Or so I thought. I was found on that blasted Facebook and got an email from them.
That’s another weird thing: nevermind the internet, if anyone from the past really wanted to find me it really wouldn’t be that difficult. I would be pretty easy to track down. Maybe that’s too much an effort and it’s more fun to stumble onto my Facebook page, send me an email so we can play an online game or whatever, before I become just another face on their friends list. Sending out an email is pretty simple and most likely if it wasn’t then this surprising reconciliation probably would never have taken place.
I doubt any real world have been attempted, like a phone call or an actual written letter or any pre-Facebook stuff. I bet in the old days people had to be much more motivated and interested in finding someone from their past just for the amount of work it would take. It wasn’t like nowadays where you can shoot off a quick email and forget about it ten minutes later.
I never was a fan of this classmates and reunions and looking people up that I once knew. It just seems like a waste. Like, I have zero interest in ever attending a high school reunion! There is no appeal it in it for me whatsoever. Why would I goto a place to see people who I didn’t bother with back in my school days? But now suddenly since this year is a nice round number from when I left there I’m invited back for an evening where I have to feign interest with quick updates of their lives. We get to give each other false promises of getting together at one point, wishing each other best of luck in the future and then you never see or hear from for another ten years.
I suppose the one good thing is seeing how people got fat, out of shape and ugly. Or a recent update on one of classmate was was once believed to be one of the kids with a good head on his shoulders was just recently seen pounding on a stop sign in the middle of the night screaming, “put the purple in the pink!” for an hour. That always makes me feel good when I hear what a mess they’ve become. Sometimes it’s refreshing to have these comparisons to remind myself that I’ve held things together reasonably well.
The few people I liked from my high school years, the ones who I wanted to stay close to – I did! Everyone else I didn’t care about and years later I care even less about them. Actually, there’s one or two high school friends I’ve continued to talking to that better step things up in the effort department very soon or else they’re going to be taking their final curtain call out of my life.
Anyway, suddenly I get an email from this blast from the past and of course the usual ‘catch up’ dialogue ensues. “How are you?”, “What have you been up to?”, “I’ve always thought of you and wondered how you’ve been doing!”….yada, yada, yada.
I’m not sure what else you’re really supposed to talk about after such a huge span of time has passed. You have to talk in these broad general life strokes, which I find the most boring. It’s like having to give the cliff notes version of your life. I always thought the most interesting stuff is in the details.
So after a few of these ‘catch up’ emails I begin to wonder why are we doing this. Is this just going to go on for a week or two and poof again? If so, what’s the point of prolonging this? So, I bring this concern up. I also not so subtly remind them that I was the last one that tried calling them and leaving messages way back when and never got any kind of response back. I’m pretty good at replying to messages. Ok, sometimes I might goof up, but I’m pretty good. Anyway, I knew it wasn’t me who bailed out and I wanted to point that out to them.
I then made a prediction – “this correspondence will go on for awhile, then gradually the novelty will wear off and then one day I’ll write back and you won’t respond. So I am now viewing all this as an email version of playing chicken. Who’s going to stop writing first?
It’s hard to believe that ANYONE would want to have any contact with me when I listen to the crap I pull! I wouldn’t want to be around this moody, angry jerk! That’s another thing that disturbs me – I question anyone’s sanity who claims they actually enjoy my company. It’s sort of like that Groucho Marx quote – “I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member.”
So the emails started traveling back and forth. Naturally at first they were pretty consistent, but after a week or so they started arriving at a more leisurely pace. They were still coming, but soon slowed to a trickle. I could tell things were running out of steam. then one day I logged in and got no email. I thought maybe the duration window was about to become wider, but nope after about two weeks with no reply returned I concluded this game of chicken ended. I won! I cemented my victory by marking the one-anniversary of my last email sent.
Admittedly, I did get one email that month. It was a ‘forward’! That obviously does not count! Let me tell you something about ‘forwards’ – that’s not correspondence. Just because my email address is grouped together with a dozen other people and you send some joke or funny video to all of us…it’s a pretty empty gesture. My spam folder is filled with my email address attached to messages that were sent out to millions of people for advertisement purposes. It’s the same thing. That is not an effort of keeping in touch with someone. I could subscribe and get one of those joke-a-day emails or the daily weather report, my horoscope or whatever sent to me everyday. That doesn’t mean I have a personal bond with the Accu-Weather Forecaster! An ongoing relationship can’t be based on ‘forwards’ every now and then. You’ve got to actually talk to the person occasionally.
So after a month and a half of silence I suddenly get an email from them. Hmmm….somewhat surprising. The first thing they say was that they got busy with stuff and they didn’t lose the game of chicken. I had to correct them and break the news that after this amount of time with no word from them, they did indeed lose (that the beauty of being the inventor of a game; you get to make up the rules). However, I consoled them by saying I would be happy to play again though and we can restart the clock.
Maybe there should be a rule put in place that if you don’t talk to someone after a certain amount of time – that’s it! Don’t bother trying to re-establish a long dead relationship. After a certain amount of time you just reach the point of no return. It’s much easier trying to start completely fresh with someone new. Hopefully they’ll be more motivated to keep things moving compared to the ones that are residing in your ‘Friends Who You Don’t Talk To Anymore’ drawer.
I won the second game of chicken by the way…..