Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Friends and Unfriending (an IWSG post)

This post is brought to you by the letter "I." Also, it is brought to you by the letter "W." Oh, and "S" and "G," too. That would be IWSG better known as the Insecure Writer's Support Group dreamed up by Alex Cavanaugh while he was sleeping. No, really, he was asleep. The letters fell on his head, and he had to make them mean something. His first option was "SWIG," but he felt that didn't really convey anything meaningful. Take a swig of what, right? Next, he went with "WIGS," but he didn't want to imply anything or insult anyone. Since nothing else was working, he threw the letters into the air and got IWSG, which had to mean something even if he didn't know what that was. After Rusty supplied the word "insecure," the rest fell into place.

This month, I'm actually going to talk about an insecurity, something I tend not to do because I tend to be mostly secure. Some would say overconfident, but I think more like comfortably confident. Well, in context, at any rate. I'm not, like, Barney Stinson confident. I know what things I'm good at, and I'm confident in those abilities. That does not extend to playing Skylanders with my kids as my younger son showed me the other day as he continued to clobber me in player vs player mode. I think my video gaming skills are beginning to atrophy since I haven't done any real playing of, well, anything in a few years, and the last thing I played to any extent was one of the Indiana Jones Lego games on the Wii.
But I digress...

My biggest area of insecurity, right now, is being unfriended (which is now a word even if my spell checker is telling me it's not (which is not to say that I agree with it's word worthiness, but no one asked me (still, it's better than LOL being a word, and I still can't figure out how that made it through))) or unfollowed or whatever. But it's not even that, it's the not knowing WHY! Or who. I mean, if Facebook would just do us the courtesy of telling us who unfriended us, it might cut out a lot of the anxiety. Even knowing that, generally, the reasons have nothing to do with me specifically, as often it is actually just people deactivating their accounts, it's hard for me not to question myself every time I lose one of those FB friends. "Who unfriended me?" "Did I do something to cause it?" The questions, they plague me!

Sometimes, there is a reason. For instance, there was this whole thing in the past year over this review that I did. I'm not gonna give names or anything, but let's just say the review wasn't a good one. The author had friended me on FB prior to the review with this quote:
Andrew, I'm excited for you to read it and I will accept any review you give, harsh or glowing or harshly glowing. Get on it already!
I sort of expected that to be the truth; unfortunately, it ended up not being the truth, and the recipient of the review attacked my character over the review (I think the most tossed around term was "douche"), so I wasn't surprised when he unfriended me. However, FB didn't tell me it was he that unfriended me, so I scoured my friend list trying to figure out who it was, which is a maddening thing to do (since some of the people on there are from back when I used to play Farmville and stuff, and I don't really know who they are), and it was a long time before I thought to check to see if he was one of the people that recently dropped me.

And he's not the only person that has unfriended me over review issues. But, then, when someone friends me over the prospect of a review for his/her book that does not mean I'm going to give a good review just so that s/he will be my friend. I mean, that is so high school. "Do my homework for me, and I'll be your friend" kind of thing. In the end, those situations don't bother me. When I know that's what's going on.

I've been struggling at around 370 friends for months, now. I've hit 374 two or three times and dropped back down to 370 again every time. Every time I lose a number, I scour my list trying to figure out who it was, because I want to know WHY! My wife tells me I'm being silly, and, in my head, I know that I am, but this whole thing really is an insecurity for me, especially since I'm in a field where I "need" to build my friends list and my followers. I used to be fairly particular about friend requests, even when I was playing Farmville, and turned down a lot of the gaming requests I got. These days, I tend to not be very particular and accept pretty much every request I get, since it's everyone is a "potential." Don't ask me what that means; I just know that it's so.

The funny thing about all of this is that in life I'm not so concerned with "friends." I tend to just do my thing and people that want to join in can and those that don't want to can go their own way. I've always been like this, so I've bounced about a bit in the number of friends I've had at any given time based on what I was interested in and where I happened to be. Being the "weird" one has never bothered me, unlike my brother, who always wanted lots of friends and to fit in. Of course, he was one of the ones always telling me that if I just wouldn't be so "weird," I'd have more friends, and he couldn't understand why I was so unconcerned with it all.

But all of that is different now that I have to deal with it on a faceless numbers basis. It's not like walking down the hall in high school and knowing who is and is not your friend, because you can't easily see these people behind the numbers on facebook or blogger or wherever, so it bothers me when that number changes and I wonder if it was me even when I know I should be even less concerned over it now than I have ever been in my life, and that was not at all, which tells me that number fluctuations shouldn't bother me. And, yet, they do.

They do! And I can't stand it! Yes, it's enough to make me neurotic. That is, if I wasn't already.

So there you go... my insecurity. Do with that what you will.

However, up there on the right, you might see where it says "FIND ME HERE!" If you do see that and if you want to find me in those places, you can go over and catch me on facebook and goodreads as well. Just, if you do, don't unfriend me without letting me know, okay?


  1. I don't pay attention to the friend thing on Facebook but I do notice that on Twitter every now and then. I lose a whole bunch of followers all at once and then I glance back over my tweets to see if I mistakenly published something truly offensive. And I don't think I have, so I'm guessing it's just one of those things. Or, you know, maybe people just get sick of snarky work themed haiku.

    My brother-in-law, I guess, just unfriended a lot of people. He said if he kept us we were either people he found truly interesting or family members he didn't want to hear complaining from at the next get-together. I'm guessing I was in the first group...

  2. Your such a cool CONFIDENT one, andrew. Wouldnt it be fun to have blogger hallways to see each other? Although I may bump you by ”accident” into a locker....just saying

  3. Nothing wrong with confidence.
    Not on Facebook, but sure it's like losing a follower on Blogger. (And you don't know who that person was either.)
    Wouldn't worry about the ones who jump ship over a review.

  4. It doesn't bother me to the same extent, but I get how it can be a little frustrating. I often wonder why people remove me on FB as well. Especially if it's for seemingly no reason.

    This one baffles me the most. For the longest time I had this girl I went to high school with as a FB friend (2 years). I even saw her in person at one point, said hi, and caught up for about 30 seconds. Then about 6 months ago she removed me. ONLY me. She's still friends with every single one of our other high school classmates (you know, all 100 of them), and I don't post anything politically incorrect or twisted on FB, so to this day it still has me wondering, what inspired this girl to remove me and me only?

  5. This makes me giggle. Not the unfriending thing, but just the way you said it. I'm sitting here thinking, "Why would someone unfriend Andrew?" too. I get unfriended all the time. I figure every time it happens, it's probably cuz I said something dirty or immature, so oh well I guess. Cuz that's probably not stopping anytime soon. So if people are gonna unfriend you over reviews or any other stupid stuff like that, you don't want them following you anyway ;)

  6. I'm the same way- I really don't care much about what people think of me in person- I am who I am and you either like me or you don't- but for some reason I'm struggling on this whole blogging, twitter, facebook, etc thing. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, why people don't like me, why I even care...agghhh! I'm with you in your insecurities!

  7. I guess I'm the opposite -- I like to keep my FB friends list pretty trimmed! I've stopped putting in the effort to do that in the last year, though. I don't even know what my follower count looks like on blogger or twitter -- I'm really only interested in interactions, like who's commenting or emails me in response to a post, or responds to a tweet. I look at page hits, too, just to have an idea of what content seems to be more popular. (The ones where I'm trying to be funny tend to be more popular, for some reason. I suspect it's schadenfreude.)

    I did turn on the subscription feature on my FB page so that people can follow things that I post publicly (which is actually over 50% of my posts). I'm a big fan of the subscription feature -- I follow a lot of people!

  8. I actually don't know how many FB friends I have ... that way I don't stress about it. But I do notice when a Blogger follower leaves. I'm guessing because I'm not a very faithful follower myself, so I'm sure there are people who decide to cull me when I'm not visiting their blogs. Or I've called them a douche... something like that!

    I wish you'd link back to that book review! it's hard to keep up with all the gossip without links!

  9. I get unfriended quite a bit. I used to let it bother me, but then I realized that people that unfriend me are not ones I want around anyway. They totally disagree with everything I say both political, emotionally, and the kinds of things I like. So my advice is to not let that bother you. Your true friends will be there to support you and you can't please everyone.

  10. If this is something that really bothers you, just know that social media is pretty fickle. People you follow can be so random, so that you discover that what you thought you were going to get ends up being something else entirely, and not what you're actually interested in. My Facebook account is bloated with a lot of people gibbering about things I don't care about, the same with twitter. I imagine I come off the same way. The whole thing is a little overrated.

  11. I've often wondered if GFC can "unfriend" people and could my follower numbers go down because of it? I eventually decided I'd rather not know or else I too would be panicked over why someone would unfriend me.

    I've also tried to figure out who's unfriended me on FB - it's such a time suck! ;)

  12. I don't worry at all about people unfollowing me, unless they are people I actually care about, in one sense or another. I track my Twitter followers loosely; I hover around 580. I pay no attention to who "follows" my blogs, as you know -- I had to add that feature for you.

    What I do notice are commenters. If a regular commenter drops away, I wonder about it. I had a commenter for a long time, "Petri Dish" who just up and stopped. She cropped up one time in the last year I think, and I've always wondered about her, or other commenters who dropped away.

    But I don't really take it personally. I think some people comment in order to get followers/comments back, and I don't do that. I read blogs, etc. by people who sustain my interest. So some people might comment in hopes that I'll comment back, which I'll usually do once out of politeness but not thereafter.

    So I wouldn't worry if people unfollow you, is my point. Also, I'm not on Facebook or I'd friend you there, but I got kicked off of Facebook for being too social.

  13. I don't do Facebook, but it's the same on Blogger. I rarely follow anyone anymore because so often the people don't follow me back and I'm left wondering why they didn't like me. :( I mean, I follow back almost everyone who follows me on my blog first, unless they post in a foreign language or are really offensive. Gah, it makes me neurotic too. At least on Twitter there are tools that help you see who unfollowed you. On Blogger and Facebook you're just left guessing.

  14. M.J.: I did actually lose a bunch of followers all at once after some post or other once. I was kind of like, "really? that was offensive?" Blogger doesn't tend to fluctuate like FB does.

    Tammy: Man, I would never give you the chance to "accidentally" bump into me (unless you got me from behind). You ride a motorcycle. Intimidating!

    Alex: I wouldn't worry about it if I -knew- that was why!

    ABftS: Yeah, I've had one of those, too. It's a weird thing.

    Cassie: Well, I know that's true... in my head!

    Rebecca: Exactly! I am whom I am! Except online where everyone should hang on my every word!

    Callie: I used to be that way with FB, but I made my first ever book sale through FB and have quite a few people who have friended me over there because of my writing, so, at this point, I feel rather compelled to pay attention to those numbers.

    Cathy: Oh, man, that would be stirring things up again, and I don't want to do that. I've already been the subject of at least three flame threads on FB over that review. Those are the ones I know of.

  15. Michael: Again, I know that stuff in my head. That's why it's an insecurity, because I haven't been able to talk myself down.

    Tony: Oh, but, um, I don't necessarily pay that much attention to what -other- people are saying.

    Kimberly: It is! I hate it.
    GFC works the same way, and, yes, they can.

    Briane: I have a lot of people that only comment sporadically. I suppose I don't pay as much attention to the commenters, because I know a lot of people don't do it all the time.

    And oh man, you're FB comment made me laugh so hard!

  16. Luanne: See, I only follow someone if the blog looks like something I might actually read whether they've followed me or not. When I get new followers, I do go check out their blogs, but it's not a guarantee of a reciprocal follow. Maybe I shouldn't say that out loud?

  17. Funnily enough, now that FB has become a numbers thing, I don't care how many "friends" I have. Once it became less about friends and more about just accepting just about any request I get, I stopped caring. I have no idea how many I have.

    On the other hand, I get insecure and depressed every time I lose a Blogger follower. Sob.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  18. If it's any consolation, I'm planning on dumping my Facebook account soon. Not because of the friend thing (I couldn't even tell you how many I have), but because it feels like an obligation that I don't want to deal with anymore. I'm bad at updating photos and responding to people's news and feeling guilty when I don't hear about things and people say, "I posted it on Facebook!" I just don't check it that often. But you've got so many friends, so I'm guessing you use Facebook as a networking tool in addition to keeping in touch with real life friends and family...so dumping your account probably isn't an option. So this comment contains no relevance for you. Sorry :)

  19. Really? I just...it's hard for me to understand why someone so secure in everything else would feel insecure about this. I'm sure 90% of the unfollows are for something like deleted accounts or someone just culling the folks they haven't interacted with for a while. If it was something personal, you probably would hear about it in a different way to know they're mad - like the douche w/ the review.

    Buuuut reading this did make me think to check my Twitter followers after I had a bout of irritable politicism...looks to be about the same. *whew*

  20. Shannon: I feel the same about blogger, but it tends to be more stable. I'm sure my FB account still has gaming bloat.

    Jess: I can understand, but my FB account is too tied into my writing stuff, now. I have people that follow me on FB just for the book updates and stuff like that, so I can't just drop it.

    Nicki: Me, too! But I am. My head can't make it go away. It kind of sucks.

  21. I know several people who have deleted their Facebook so maybe that is it. They just tired of Facebook.

  22. I think the person above is onto something. I know that, personally, I get pretty sick of facebook.

    I like my blog because I generally recognize the people who comment or, even if I don't, it's a short click away to read all sorts of interesting things about them. I can know them, even if it's only through the internet.

    FB is different, way more surface stuff. I seriously doubt I'd even notice if three-quarters of my FB friends unfriended me. Which probably means they should--but that's a whole other story.

    So, clearly, given that--I'm not the one for advice on this. But you sound like a funny, nice guy and I'm now following your blog, which is way better than following you on FB cause it means I'm actually interested in what you have to say. :)

    Good luck and I hope 2013 brings you lots of new friends!!

  23. I can't believe someone called you a douche because you gave them a bad review. I'm assuming the review was justified because your reviews have also seemed quite balanced to me - even if you are slightly obsessed with grammar ;-) .

    I don't notice the number of Facebook friends so much, but I'm a bit obsessive with my number of Twitter followers and The Big Smoke's overall rating on Goodreads.

  24. G_G: Yeah, I know that happens, but those show up when they do it, so you can see who it was.

    Tamara: That's kind of it, though; I don't recognize the people, just the number, which is what makes it so crazy-making!

    Cally: I think there were other words, too, but that one was the one most tossed around. And, you know, the bad review was because I was jealous which is what made me a douche.
    And, see, I'm not on Twitter, or I'd probably be noticing those numbers, too. :P

  25. I would never unfriend you! I love seeing your face pop up in my updates. But really, if you can't figure out who unfriended you, then they really weren't your friend in the first place. After all, you have no idea who they are. That's no loss, trust me. You only want good friends around you. Happy New Year, Andrew!

  26. Nancy: Well, you're a good friend, and I'm happy to have you around me!

  27. Well if you can't work out who they were, they can't have meant that much to you in the first place! FB doesn't bother me, but sometimes I lose followers on twitter and I'm like WHY NO LOVE? Generally it's because I don't auto follow back, and in that case, like this case here, it's not much of a loss!

  28. Glad you wrote about this, seriously something that drives me nuts as well. As much as I try to shrug it off, being un-friended gets under my skin. I did read something once on The Everywhereist, a successful blog; She was pretty much like, you're going to have haters no matter what. Her blog is so innocuous I couldn't imagine her ever receiving negative mail, but it sounded like it had happened quite a bit. If you're not yourself you will never find your niche

  29. Ravena: Well, yes. And no. Because you never can tell... But yes. And no!

    Winopants: I want it NOT to bother me, but, yeah, right under the skin. I think I'm pretty good at myself.

  30. I tend not to care about Facebook. I thought it was awesome back when it was me and 15 people I really enjoyed catching up with. Since then it's gotten ridiculous. I get all bent out of shape about twitter though.

  31. Rusty: I think it's probably whatever thing we focus on to see what kind of response we're getting from people. Another reason I probably shouldn't bother with twitter.

  32. Hi Rusty. I love your clever play with IWSG, which I always have to slow down to type.

    I don't pay too much attention to the numbers on FB, Twitter, GR, etc. I definitely wouldn't take it personally if someone unfriend's you. They're the ones missing out.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  33. Cherie: You know, you're the only person to mention that, which kind of surprised me.
    And, um, I'm Andrew. >points up< That's Rusty just up there.