The Shout Zone: Facebook ‘Removed From Conversation’

When I first joined Facebook, I did so whilst studying for my degree, as a cheap way remain in touch with my daughter, and get to see her photographs. She was always very busy and working hard, and it wasn’t as if she lived around the corner, so it seemed like a good thing at the time.

One thing that I made clear to family and friends: I WILL NOT HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU VIA FACEBOOK! It wasn’t just that, but similarly with my mobile. Having a mobile phone doesn’t mean that you can contact me at any time that you wish; my phone is generally on between 11am and 5pm, and I don’t carry my phone everywhere with me. My landline is almost permanently unplugged, mostly due to the dreaded sales calls, but also, with being ill I didn’t want to be up and down answering the phone all day. I made the decision as to when I’m feeling up to being contacted or not. It took some years for my family to understand; I wasn’t being awkward, I was ill.

I even have a bolt on my path gate, so that once the postman has been, if I know that I’m not due any visits, the bolt goes back on. I heard the gate clanking at 7pm the other night; goodness knows who that was, but when I got up to look (you can slightly see through one bit of the big hedge), I didn’t see anyone walking down the footpath the other way, which means that it wasn’t some advertising leaflet guy, but someone particularly visiting me; someone who doesn’t realise that my gate is usually locked. Anyway, I got a little off topic there. Basically, I don’t want to feel obliged to be ‘contractible’ day or night, either physically or on social media.

A couple of months ago, I decided to go onto Facebook; I think there was an article somewhere linking to it; the last time I was on Facebook, was just after new year. I was surprised that I had a message from someone who was my daughter’s friend. She said that they were arranging a ‘baby shower’ for her, and could I make something up so as to get her there. I replied that I would and that I was looking forward to it. That was before this new illness deteriorated however.

The baby shower was yesterday. I was torn as to whether to go or not. The journey to my daughter’s house takes about 20 minutes, but you’re driving through country lanes mostly and being giggled about as the car turns and stops, and even before this new illness, I was exhausted by the time I arrived at my daughters. The last time I visited I was in a terrible state, but at least I could rest on the sofa. I couldn’t exactly do that in a pub where the shower was being held. Over the last few days, due to nerves I think, the angina attacks have become worse than ever. I’ve been up every hour and a half in the night, and if I did the slightest physical thing, it would kick off in the day also.

I messaged my daughter’s friend to explain, and say that I wouldn’t be able to attend, but I had no reply. Then on the actual morning, I asked if it was still on, because I’d transferred some money into my daughter’s account in lou of the fact that I wouldn’t be there, and obviously, I wanted to tell her that, but not spoil the surprise. I looked back a little later at the messages, and it said ‘seen’, but no reply. No matter I thought, they’re probably busy, and perhaps they’ll mention my messages.

Finally, early evening, my daughter posted a thank you to all those involved. I texted her straight away explaining the above, and she wasn’t happy about how I’d been ignored, though she said that her friend had just flown in from the U.S. today. I told her it didn’t matter, that they were probably to busy to think about me, but I felt hurt for her, because all afternoon she would be wondering why I wasn’t there.

If that message was ‘seen’, what effort would it have taken to just send a quick reply? Being that there was no reply, it makes me feel that they probably thought badly of me; not believing that I was so ill; perhaps they really were too busy, but I won’t know that since no one told me! As I was writing this, I found out that my daughter was informed at the beginning of the party that I was too ill to be there; she of course didn’t expect it, and so even if she hadn’t been told that I wasn’t there, she still would have thought nothing of it. The person that should have told me was wiped out after her flight, and wasn’t well at all; that’s why she didn’t respond. Phew! But you see how misunderstanding can happen don’t you?

This is why I absolutely HATE facebook. Gone is the normal politeness when dealing with people, it can make people think that it’s OK to publicly point fingers at others, promote arguments that have caused a lot of hurt over the years; rather than being a communication tool, it obfuscates things, so that these sorts of misunderstandings are rampant.

For example, when I used it at the beginning of the year, I noticed a message for me from an old friend. On the message stream, people were wishing ‘happy new year’, so I scrolled down to see who they were. At the end of the stream, there were 5 names blanked out. My name was there too and underneath it said ‘Removed From Conversation’. I was so upset: surely that person would know I would see that message?! I haven’t been close to the person for years now due to illness, and they know this, but was it really necessary to do such a thing?

I noticed last night, that an old friend was telling off the ‘gossips’; no doubt she’s been hurt too on this public platform. Surely, certain things should remain private? Why does the whole world need to know about your disputes and personal life?

Bit by bit over the years, I’ve seen friends join, only then to stop making an effort to actually keep in touch, which obviously defeats the object. I think I’m down to 1 friend now. I have nothing to say you see. They’re not interested in the posts I made about human rights abuses in the UK, or awful things happening on the world stage. Hardly anyone commented. But put a silly cat or dog on there, put arguments, your holiday photos, the ‘inspirational posters’ (that I think are veiled sly comments about their friends), or that you’re so low, and you’ll get loads of comments.

With being mostly housebound and desperately ill, I also found it really depressed me to see people posting about holidays, days and nights out, events, and people getting together; it made me feel even more isolated and left out of things. I know that’s silly, and I’m really happy that they have good lives, but it makes me feel me feel marginalised, and sometimes, when inappropriate things are posted like semi porn, I definitely feel compromised; I wouldn’t choose to view those sorts of things (Mary Whitehouse syndrome, but I was a naughty gal in my past), but if I want to be part of the Facebook scene I have to ‘get with the programme’.

Even on the ‘help groups’ people stopped communicating; shenanigans going on ‘black balling’ people who have done nothing wrong. I was desperate for some help recently, and no one replied. The admin that had advised me a few years back ignored my message. Then I realised who was now on the admin, and there it was, the troublemaker from a different group I’d had scary dealings with a few years back. Obviously, lies and misinformation get passed around, then you’re out!

Well, I’m out on my own terms. I don’t need social media to make me feel like a valued person to my family or my friends (such that my friends are now), and I don’t need it to continually entertain myself; I have other far more creative things to do than that. Consequently, I’ve ‘removed’ myself ‘from conversation’ thanks.

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