The act of removing a friend from your facebook account.
Compulsive people prune their friend list periodically, removing people that they no longer have contact with. More often though, unfriending is only done when a particular friend’s updates and self-promotions become so annoying that you can no longer stand hearing about them. Or you might unfriend someone when they piss you off, however, this is not very effective since the person who is unfriended is not notified that you unfriended them and you’d be better off to keep them as a friend and plot your revenge.
I’ve been unfriended a few times. A few years back, during my more politically active days, I had a few friends who became so infuriated with my views that they decided to move on.
As someone who’s always believed that a) I often learn the most from those I don’t agree with and b) friends need to be able to agree to disagree - I found this very sad. Politics is a really stupid thing to lose friends over - but it was their choice, not mine.
More recently, however, this happened over a much more personal matter. And yes I noticed - since it happened right in the middle of a chat - which it’s fair to say pissed my former friend off.
But regardless of the reason - for any type of relationship one would call a ‘friendship’, it’s hard to see how that relationship can persist if you can’t communicate about the things that you don’t agree on. If you’re going to stay friends, there may be times when you may need to agree to disagree.
At least for someone you would call a real friend.
Social networks - and ‘friend’ships - have a much lower standard.
Why? Because while the person we choose to put ‘out there’ is - hopefully - part of the ‘real’ us - it’s only the part we want the world to see.
Some choose to put more out there. Some less. But nobody I know puts it all out there (though James Altucher comes pretty close).
Why would we? Why would anyone want to put our most personal, private, and in many cases hard thoughts and feelings online?
We don’t. Our social lives are a window into our real lives - but only a window.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy social networking - more than most. And I do value all of my friends - my social ones and my real ones.
But the latter are far more important. A real friendship should be about so much more than what’s in the display window. A real friendship encompasses the whole package - including our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities - and the things we may disagree about.
A social friend doesn’t need to do any of that - and may never even see those other side(s). All they see is what we choose to show through the window. It’s fun - but ultimately it’s one-dimensional.
Which is why it’s so truly tragic to lose a real friend over something that happens on a social network.
But when it happens, you need to ask yourself how ‘real’ the friendship may have been after all.
Something’s definitely been in the air these past few weeks. I’ve spoken to an especially large number of friends who are going through some form of emotional and/or professional turmoil and have reached out to me for counsel.
I have found myself saying ‘be calm, don’t overreact’ more times than I can count.
Yet I guess I’m not always the best at taking my own advice. I found that out as this weekend began.
To say my plans for the weekend changed is an understatement. It’s more like they crashed into a wall and exploded in flames.
And I didn’t stay calm. I was angry. I was hurt. I reacted in a number of ways - none of them healthy or constructive. Fortunately I didn’t do anything so truly stupid as to cause any lasting damage (other than a few fewer brain cells I’ll be starting this week with).
Yet as much as the start of the weekend was awful, a few funny things happened.
I heard from the right friends. At the right time. It’s ironic how that works - I caught up with a few people I really owed some time. And I had it to give to them (and yes I even gave some of the aforementioned advice).
And while I had some alone time, that turned out OK as well. I’m the first to admit I have trouble downshifting - as someone who thrives off activity and contact with others, being with myself is a challenge. But not only did I get through it, I even got a surprising amount done, taking a lot of stress off my plate for the upcoming week.
I finished the weekend catching up with more friends with whom I was overdue, and still have one more meeting ahead of me that I’m really looking forward to.
While I certainly would never choose to repeat the path I took to and through this Memorial Day weekend, in the end it turned out OK. I even learned a few things about myself as well. Some of the best lessons are the ones you learn the hard way.
Thanks to all of you who ‘helped’. You know who you are.
With all due respect to my ‘startup junkie' friends, I thought I'd say a few words in defense of big companies.
As someone who has spent the majority of my career in small firms, I know firsthand that there is nothing more rewarding or enjoyable than creating something out of nothing and building - and scaling - a business from the ground up.
But there’s also a counterpoint. When I joined HP about 2 years ago, I had a recent history of working both for - and with - a number of struggling startups. So while I have seen the fun parts of startups many times - and those times absolutely rank among the most enjoyable of my career - I’ve also seen the hard parts. Up close and personal.
It’s been interesting to read a few select quotes lately, from others who have seen both sides.
Scott Kirsner in BetaBoston the other day:
The dirty little secret about startups is that the only people who make money are: anyone at the top one percent of companies, founders at the top quartile of companies, and any venture capitalists. Everyone else (98 percent of people at startups) would make more money working in corporate America.
You have people being CEOs of teeny little things who would be much better as marketing managers of someone else’s company,
And then, speaking of ‘Both Sides’ there’s Mark Suster’s ’Entrepreneurshit’ post from 2012, a must-read for anyone who needs a blast of reality about startup life - particularly those of us getting a bit ‘further on’ in our careers:
It’s not for everybody and you shouldn’t feel bad if you aren’t one of those that chooses this life. You’ll probably be healthier and wealthier. Despite the fact that only the Lotto winners get reported. Many more people play.
But if you do want to go for it, don’t wait. It doesn’t get easier later in life. It gets harder. You’re probably going to fail or have limited success. The math says so. So better that you try as young as you can when failure is easier to bounce back from. When you can wear it as a badge of honor.
Don’t get me wrong - I am absolutely a startup junkie at heart - that part of me is never going away - and I have a few ‘badges of honor’ that I wear proudly. The incredible dynamism of our industry keeps me full aware that things can - and usually do - change very quickly. So who knows what the future will bring.
But right now, I’m having an absolute blast being fully focused on a job I love - and am extremely proud to be playing a role in helping to (re)vitalize one of history’s truly great, global brands. HP’s been incredibly good to me personally, and to our business - I’m deeply grateful for both. I have a fantastic team around me, supporting a terrific product, in a high-growth, noisy, chaotic marketspace. And I’m loving (almost:) every minute of it.
So my advice is - don’t dismiss the big companies out of hand. Yes there’s bureaucracy, yes there’s politics, and yes there are lots and lots (and lots) of meetings. But startups have those things too (if not today, just wait).
Who knows, if you play your card right, a big company can even be pretty ‘cool’. Yes really….
And did I mention we’re hiring?
Did something I haven’t done in a while these past few days - went completely and totally off the grid. No calls, no meetings, no emails (well, a very few of those) - no nothing except some quality personal time.
It was a relatively short - but very sweet. And a reminder that it’s something I need to do more often.
It’s not easy in this ‘ever-connected’ day and age to truly unplug but it was oh so worth it. I’m back as of a few hours ago but even now feeling more refreshed, relaxed and recharged - both professionally and personally - than I have in a long time.
(Not) coincidentally have been reading James Altucher’s excellent ‘Choose Yourself' while away. Resolved to get back on the 'Daily Practice' so expect to hear at least a bit more from me here.
It’s good to be back…