that uncanny knack
I may have mentioned it here before, but I have a bit of an uncanny knack—at least on Facebook—of realizing I haven’t seen a certain someone on my news feed for a while, only to discover we are no longer “friends”. Now I don’t know exactly when my virtual presence was terminated in someone’s life, and I’m sure it has happened more than I realize. It’s not like I’m making a list and checking it twice, you know? And it’s also not as though I have never ‘unfriended’ or ‘unfollowed’ someone. But there are times when being on the receiving end of a virtual dumping has, honestly, stung.
Recently I discovered I had been dropped by a couple of virtual friends. To be fair, we hadn’t communicated much at all online for a while – no ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ even. Not me to them, or them to me. And I was about to revisit the path of rejection once again, even taking a few steps into the familiar gray tableau until a thought occurred to me:
What does it matter to me how they choose to manage their social media?
I’m being serious – how much weight ought I to give such matters? Now, I genuinely hope I did not do anything to cause hurt or offense, but if it’s just them wanting to kick a few people off their list for, say, them wanting to only have a friends list composed of people they regularly interact with in person? That is completely their choice. Odds are it does not reflect negatively on myself or my worth as a person. And I did do (or not do) something which led to the unfriending? Well, there isn’t a lot I can do about it if they’ve never conveyed their grievances to me, is there?
As such, this time it was easier to take a step back, acknowledge what I knew to be true of the virtual relationship, and then leave the matter there rather than carry it around with me most of the day.
Speaking of uncanny knacks, last week I saw (at last!) Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – the wonderful documentary about the work and life of Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers had an uncanny knack for making people feel seen, valued, and loved. There were things he wouldn’t abide, mind (he and his production company successfully sued the Ku Klux Klan for real – read about it here), and he was not a perfect man (What mere mortal is?). But he was a good man, a kind man who was sometimes a little bit sassy. And he’s a pretty great example of what it looks like when one lives out Jesus’ command to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’.
You know what? I’d like to develop some uncanny knacks more along those lines – of being a good neighbour in person and online. It seems a better way to live. Harder, yes, but still better … and freer.