In this age of social media — where friendships live and die by the click of a button, where an acquaintance of an acquaintance of an acquaintance of the guy who cuts your hair knows what you had for dinner and how you voted in the last election, where high school never ends — what is a friend?
I have had more than a few epiphany moments since becoming a dad sixteen months ago. Chief among them is the realization that my friendships are no longer just about me. The company I choose to keep also affects my kid. And some of my choices have been lacking.
I have unfriended people for many reasons — some legitimate, some whimsical, some ridiculous. I once hit the unfriend button because a person (over)used the phrase YOLO, as in You Only Live Once. I’ve unfriended people for political opinions that were deeply personal and personal opinions that were offensively political. I’ve unfriended family members.
I know what kind of person I am and I knew that I would be littering Facebook with personal stories of parenthood and photos of Chris. I knew I would be that parent. So in the weeks leading up to meeting Chris, I deleted 150 people from my Facebook friend list (more than half my list). These were people I knew casually — the girl who acted in a play I directed three years ago but had not seen since; that homophobic guy from high school who I wouldn’t remember if he came up to me and said, “Hey I’m that homophobic guy from high school you don’t remember”; the seldom-seen cousin who stated there should be zero gun control less than 24 hours after the Sandy Hook school shooting. These people were a no-brainer — they either weren’t really friends or they were people I wanted nowhere near my child.
But in the real world — that ever-shrinking dimension where face-to-face interpersonal communication still exists — ending a friendship is not as simple as clicking a button. It’s one thing to erase a person in cyberspace, it’s another thing to wipe out their existence on this earthly plane.
But sometimes that’s just what you have to do.
So I took an inventory. Peter Pan. The “every-other-word-is-fuck” guy. The slutty one. The emotional vampire. The passive aggressive narcissist. The lunatic. What was I thinking?
At one time it was cute. Their unwillingness to grow up. Their foul mouth. Their neediness. Their dangerous mental instability. Their overt sexuality so in your face at times you felt like their gynecologist. But what was once colorful now seemed — I was going to say sad, but that isn’t fair — it now seemed, so not where we are in our lives.
I’ve been told that I burn bridges. That I’m quick to judge. Incapable of forgiveness. Someone once called me an asshole (to my face!) And while it’s true that I am an asshole, I also think I’m honest. Some friendships go the distance. Some do not.