Defining Friendships

Across my life I have had many people try to define who my friends should be.  Some were successful in their attempts, probably because I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for what I wanted and for what I knew I should have.

As a child, I had a number of adults who deemed that their offspring were not allowed to be friends with me.  What had I done wrong to get this judgement?  I was a Preacher’s Kid, and Preachers Kids had a reputation for being ‘off the rails‘ and generally a bad influence.  I wasn’t ‘off the rails‘ at the time, and if anything their offspring were probably a bad influence on me.  But the ‘jury’ had me announced to be bad news, simply because of my father’s profession, and so it was difficult to have the friendship we might have wanted.

As a teenager, and then as an adult, I spent many years being the victim of two stalkers.  Society seems to have this idea than stalking, and being stalked is a bit of a joke.  It’s not.  Among other things it plays serious havoc with the mental health of both the stalked, and the stalker.  Stalking is never a joke!

It was difficult not to let my friendships be defined by the actions of these two men.  Friends were an access point to their victim, and so I constantly had to be careful about who I spent time with, what I told them and where I went with friends. Some of my friends at the time were amazingly supportive, and I will always feel much gratitude to them for the way they supported and protected me.  But other friends fell by the way side.  It was simply necessary for trying to maintain that mental health, but I feel sad that I have missed out on much because of this.

By the time the stalking terror was over, I was married and again, I was told who my friends should and shouldn’t be.  Perhaps most memorable to me is the friend who was ‘barred’ from our house, particularly while my husband was at work.  She was barred because she smoked (he didn’t realise that I had started smoking by then), she too had a mental illness, and perhaps the most dastardly ‘deed’ was that she was a lesbian.  All of that made me more angry than ever, for so many reasons.  This particular attempt to define my friends very nearly ended in tragedy.  Thankfully it didn’t, but it was certainly not without lasting harm to both of us.  And to my marriage, which is long since over thankfully.

All of this came to mind in a disturbing manner this week when I discovered (I’m probably months behind most people) that Facebook has decided for itself who my ‘close friends’ are.  What’s more, without my permission, Facebook will tell these ‘close friends’ of my activity on Facebook.  The cringe factor sky-rockets for me instantly, and what I want to do is run as far away as possible from Facebook.

This might seem extreme to many, but not for me.  Again, I am being told who my friends are, and scarily similar to the many years I spent being stalked, I find that those ‘close friends’ get information about me which I have not agreed too.  Remember too that these ‘close friends’ are not my close friends.  A few maybe, but they are simply Facebook friends I have contact with regularly on Facebook.

I object strongly, Facebook.

Now that at least some of these people get a notification when I am ‘on-line’ (even though I permanently have the chat function turned off),  I am starting to feel stalked again.

People know what I am doing, and when I am doing it.  This is the scariest thing when you have been stalked.  The stalker knows more of what I do than even I know.  Somehow they seem to know before I do something.  They constantly know everything, and I have little or often no power to stop that.  I am left with that familiar feeling that there is someone standing outside my windows just watching me.  I lived with that reality for 15 years, and many years following as I tried to recover from the trauma of living this way.

Yet again, my friendships are defined by others.  Just when I’m learning to define myself, I have a social media that wants to do that for me.  That completely freaks me out.  It seems that I have little control over who Facebook determines to be my ‘close friends’ and I have no control over what they get told about what I do.

This time social media has gone too far for me.  I know that most people won’t even get why I am so disturbed for by this, and in a way, I am glad because it tells me you haven’t had to live as a prisoner of another.  As for me though, I need to work out what to do.  I can’t live like this.  Time for some thought.

“I cried for all of those things that should have just been for us…” 

― Kate Chisman, Creep


18 thoughts on “Defining Friendships

  1. I didn’t know they have done this and, as with many things Facebook has done over the years, I STRONGLY disapprove!!

    Every time I turn around more and more people and/or companies and/or governments and/or etc., etc., have access to parts of me that I never agreed to or usually even knew about till after the fact. It seems like there is no privacy anymore except in our thoughts and, because of George Orwell’s way-before-its-time book, I wonder how soon it will be before even our thoughts are no longer our own!!

    In a different way, yet with some of the same results, I understand what you went through b/c of what I go through daily and nightly with my neighbors. I’ve never told all that’s happened on my blog b/c I don’t think anyone will believe me. It’s incredibly disturbing and it wreaks such havoc that, unless you’ve experienced it personally, others will never understand!!

    1. I think you are right… about all of this. No doubt some form of social media has by now worked out to own our thoughts. And for living through the experience you are living with, it is hard for those who haven’t been there to get it. I used to be frustrated by that, but I’m learning to be thankful that they haven’t had to live in such a nightmare. It wreaks havoc and has terrible consequences long term. I do hope you can one day soon fine a way through your situation, but if you ever want an ear, just holler. ❤

  2. Ugh, that’s annoying. The FB issue, that is. I don’t understand why they are getting notifications. That doesn’t make any sense but then again, FB is weird. If I find out anything about it, I’ll let you know.

    And yikes! Sorry about the stalkers. That has to be frightening. HUG

  3. Having deactivated my account, this is another disturbing new development I wasn’t aware of. However, I played around a bit with Graph Search when it was still in Beta testing. I then spent the next week or so stripping my profile of every photo, going painstakingly through every post and picture and un-tagging myself, deleting all of my likes and personal information. . .

    The deactivation of my account was intended as a temporary thing, a time-limited break. Even before reading this I had made the decision I would never be returning. I have never been stalked or had anyone dictate to me who my friends should be, but I find this every bit as disturbing as you do — quite possibly even more so (not to devalue your feelings, I’ll explain it privately some time).

    So I will manage the Canvas page, but everything else I do I will do through WP or Twitter, where at least you know straight out of the gate everything is completely public.

    1. You definitely didn’t devalue my feelings. Quite the opposite. Sometimes I know that I get almost too wary about my privacy, because of my experiences of the past. It becomes difficult to know what the rational person thinks. So thank you. Knowing that other people find it at least as disturbing as I do helps me enormously. I just can’t quite work out what I am going to do about it. :\

      1. It’s a hard choice, because no one seems to care all that much, and so it’s where friends and family congregate and share things. I’ve had people contact me, and I miss like crazy seeing pictures of my family. And sad though it is, I know from temporary deactivations of a few months time in the past that we will drift, and I won’t be as close to many people whom I love dearly. Others will evaporate from my life entirely. They simply will not take the time to make the extra effort, regardless of how strongly I feel about this.

        But I had to make the decision that was right for me, and this time, Cate, it was crystal clear. And I’ll tell you that yes, it just flat out sucks to stare it in the face, but if someone isn’t willing to take a moment of their day every now and again to email, call, text, Skype, send a letter. . . there are so many alternatives. . . just to check in, see how you are, let you know how they’re doing. . . How much could you really mean to that person, truly? If they care, they will respect your choice and meet you halfway.

        Of course you have to make the decision that’s right for you. I just feel if someone truly loves me, they will understand and go the extra mile, because this is something I will not budge on. And even if they don’t understand my reasons, I expect them to respect my decision because they care for me. If they can’t, I’m probably just as well rid of them.

        Oh, and to speak more directly to your actual comment — though all of that was actually an oblique statement about my strong feelings on privacy — there is absolutely no such thing as being “too wary about. . . privacy”, especially in the world we live in now. I’ll probably talk to you (privately) about that a bit more and the impact it’s recently had on me.

      2. Ruby, I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here, but I experienced what you’re talking about. I got on FB at first in order to stay connected with my family who’s scattered all over the place. I reached out to all and they reached back . . . then nothing. I didn’t understand it. One of them would make a comment and a million people would “like” it and/or reply. I’d make a comment and nothing. After a few months of this, I felt so rejected and ignored I deactivated my account. Someone close to me and I had a short falling out, but I wanted to make sure they were doing okay in their life so when a relative invited me to join FB again, I did. This time everything was different. I was constantly getting pics of loved ones and of their kids, grandkids, etc. One great-niece invited me to play a game that I had no interest in but I wanted to re-establish the relationship we had when she was a little girl. That led me to making friends through games. Some were just people to play games with when I was really sick. Yet some became real friends that I have to this day.

        I’d been on FB for 2 1/2 years when I felt like it was time to move on and to start my blog. I private messaged all my loved ones and friends — those I’d found who I used to know from my past as well as the ones I’d made only through FB. We exchanged contact info and I looked forward to emails, some emails w/attached photos, even cards as we’d sent stuff to each other via snail mail. I’d just undergone a mastectomy and was healing from that and facing radiation down the line. One FB friend is following my blog and she’ll email at Christmas. One FB friend is following my blog, but only commented at the beginning on one post and I don’t think she’s reading them anymore. One old friend I found sends me Christmas cards. One family member and I have always stayed in touch. All the others . . . so many I truly cared about and still smile when I look at my photos of them . . . have not stayed in contact. It causes me to feel bittersweet at times, melancholy at other times and sad most of the time when I think of them

        I know everyone seems to have busy lives, but you are so right when you say you make time for those who matter. That’s always been true and will continue to be true. A true friend — whether family member, old friend, new friend, virtual friend — will stick by you and stick with you no matter what. People can type anything into any place on the internet. Their words mean nothing if they don’t back them up with their actions and continue to do so over and over for the rest of their life and yours.

        Thanks for letting me join in this conversation!!

      3. I totally agree with you Kathy. Although it makes me sad that people don’t value friendships enough to put in the effort. It’s not that many years ago when we sat down and hand-wrote letters. I think it’s a shame that society has largely lost that art.

      4. As I was reading your comment I was thinking “it comes down to how much people care about their relationship with you”. I think we take the easy approach with the likes of Facebook. Look at a photo. Like… And that’s communication. There’s something wrong with that (to me anyway).

  4. I deactivated my account a couple of years ago. I have not regretted it at all. It was making me paranoid and anxious because I didn’t know who saw what.

    My sympathies!

  5. It’s so important that we all define our own relationships and don’t get swallowed up or overwhelmed by media sites. You raise such a good point about FB Cate – they mess about so much it is infuriating. Take care!

  6. Cate…. Being stalked is no laughing matter and I can understand why you are upset with FB

    I am one of the few who hate it. I’ve always had concerns with privacy, or lack of it. They seem to change for the masses and individual preferences are not available. I didn’t like people knowing my every move and neither am I interested in other people’s movements… I’m afraid it used to bore me half to death

    1. Thanks for your understanding, Cat. Privacy is understandably a big issue for me and I hate people knowing what I’m doing. As I said in my post it’s really like someone looking in my windows. Not welcome at all.

  7. Pingback: On Human Rights Day: How the War on Organised Crime Is Destroying Our Societies | Stalking, WebOps, Bullying , Tapping, Perpetrators, Terrorisme, False flags, Zerzetsen, Fachisme, STASI .... VICTIMS !!

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