casualties of spring cleaning


ne me quite pas. 

We’ve all done it. One day after remembering someone and noticing they haven’t posted on Facebook for a while, we check to see if we’re still friends. Sometimes we are and we breathe a sigh of relief that someone still likes us. When we’re not, we do the necessary mental gymnastics required to make sense of it.  Did I upset this person? Did I post something offensive? Am I just annoying? Most of the time the reasons for being unfriended are innocuous; a casualty of the routine spring cleaning.  But nobody likes to discover that they aren’t wanted, even if it is by someone they barely knew.

But what happens if you actually had a meaningful relationship with someone? Pressing the unfriend button has come to represent the last salvo in the undoing of a friendship. Click that button and it’s officially over between you two. Unfortunately, this isn’t the world of Harry Potter, where we can save people from the pain of relationships by erasing their memories. Try as we may, we cannot become Jacob Kowalski. Friendships may come to an end but the memories we have of them persist.

Sometimes friendships end quickly and very painfully. Sometimes we lose touch with people over time. But that does not mean we do not think of them; the conversations, the MSN messenger chats, the times you used to sit in class together or grab coffee between a lecture – these memories stay with us for a long time. Even if we lose touch with people, Facebook allows us to watch them from afar. We may not talk anymore, but we can still love them based on what we once had. We watch as they grow into the people they are destined to be and perhaps, they watch us.  Contact may be sparse – a birthday message, a condolence on the death of a loved one, a congratulations on the birth of a child – but every comment is a reminder of the place this person once occupied in your life.

So when you find you’re unfriended, you wonder why this person decided to cut ties for good. Perhaps they didn’t have as strong memories as you did, perhaps you have changed in more ways than you think – so much so that you no longer resemble who you once were. There could be a million reasons why you didn’t make the cut in this year’s friend list draft. Painful as they may be however, there is one redeeming thing about memories – they are ours to keep. We take our interactions with people, bits and pieces of conversations, parts of their personality and we fuse it with our own; and as we go on with life and meet other people, the people we once knew continue to travel with us.  The people we once knew make us who we are today.

We may not be friends on Facebook anymore, but thank you for the memories. Truly.



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