My younger son came home distraught because he had a quarrel with his best friend. After hearing him out, I tried to be casual and said that these minor squabbles happen. Maybe, you misunderstood or he did not mean it that way. After giving it due thought and a few hours, I heard him speaking over the phone with the same friend and apologising to him. I also heard him tell the other chap on the phone that he felt hurt over something and the other guy magnanimously must have tended his apologies. End of story. I stifled a smile. Children really do know how to handle conflicts the best.
Weren’t we like this when we were kids? I sure was. Then as we grew older, egos started hindering us from reaching out and striking a reconciliation. It became particularly difficult when the conflict came from a person you did not know well enough. Is it possible that I have no interest in reaching out because I felt that perhaps the rift was for the better?
A few weird incidents have confused me and brought me to the question I asked at the start. When is it a good time to let go of a friend? What makes someone lash out at a friend in a status update or troll a friend or go maligning a friend behind their back to other friends? Do they for a moment think about what this person may have done for them? Maybe helped them when they needed help, provided them valuable counsel, maybe even promoted them or their work to others? Or was it all a part of the scheme of take as much as you can and then turn your back?
No, I am not playing a victim here nor is my intent to besmirch anyone’s name. So please don’t ask me for details like name, incident etc. That is irrelevant.
What is relevant is that we often confuse social media acquaintances for friends.
Social media or even our blogs are places where we interact freely with people we barely know. Some of them may be bloggers whose writing you may have connected with. Some others just accounts whose tweets/updates you may enjoy. I always compare them with fellow passengers on a train journey. People we may share a laugh with, have spirited conversations with, maybe even share a meal with and then go our separate ways.
The problem is when we take liberties that were not given to us in the first place with some such friends.
My experience on social media tells me that politics and religion are two areas where people, in general, hold the strongest views. And the strange times that we are living in, we have to choose sides. If I don’t eat beef, do I become communal or not in with the times? If I am okay with a sadhu wearing saffron robes, again am I a fundamentalist? What if I support the present government’s views on an issue, am I a ‘bhakt’? What if I’ve always felt that every person of every community deserves a fair chance at freedom or opportunity, does that make me a ‘libtard’? Why must I need to defend my views at every step of the way to the two rabid camps that have been formed now? Is it not okay if I unfollow you because you continuously share your views with a viciousness that makes me feel queasy?
I am just keeping my head above water on social media. Yes, I have unfollowed and muted many people because on some days it gets too much. Maybe, it’s my weakness, perhaps I am too sensitive. I don’t have the stomach to go hammer and tongs at every issue, so I choose not to react. I don’t even comment on status updates. I don’t want to be pulled into uncomfortable arguments where strangers have a go at me. If you have been on social media long enough you’d know that people don’t change their views or ideologies just because you lash out. It may even harden the views of some.
But, one thing I will not tolerate is someone haranguing me. You can disagree with me. You can share an offensive opinion. Unless you tag me, I will give you the benefit of doubt that it is not about me. And trust me, I do say a lot of general things. If you wish to take offence, go right ahead. Not my problem. But if you think that you will harass me or God forbid, think that my family is fair game, you are out of my life. That is the time when you cease to be a friend.
If, for you, a small comment/scoring a point in a debate was more important than a cordial relationship of years then so be it and we were never friends in the true sense of the word.
I am not confrontational by nature. I avoid conflict, as a matter of fact. But, it does not make me weak or stupid. Oh and I never forget. I may forgive sometime in the future but once out, a person is out of my life.
I don’t enjoy pulling anyone down. I don’t even wish ill of you. I am just not that negative.
But yes, if you wrong me, my heart will not bleed for you. Go on. Live your life. Just don’t cross my path again.
I have experienced many such incidents over the years and finally wrote about this because sometimes silence is seen as a sign of weakness.
Have you been seeing more broken relationships on social media, of late?