Internetiquette?

When Rebecca was born, nearly 10 years ago, none of my local friends had children so I joined a Mommy’s group through the hospital. After the sessions had come to an end a few of us kept in touch. We  together on a regular basis as we found that in addition to our squirmy, fussy newborns we had many things in common. We were in our late 20s and early 30s. Slowly friends dropped out of our little group of friends due to growing family commitments and, as the years passed, fuller and more demanding schedules. We still talk about Madison and Lindsey from time to time though Rebecca, at this point has no idea who they really are. They live in Greenwich and we live about 20 minutes east. While 20 minutes is not a long drive, when you factor in school and after school activities finding the time for these visits is not so easy. And harder yet when you factor in siblings and their schedules. Sadly our means of communications have pretty much dwindled down to Christmas Cards and the odd promise of getting together. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get back in touch with my friends from the past. (The other is to take care of myself and scheduled those dentist and doctors appointments I have neglected for too long.) I am, admittedly, terrible at keeping in touch with my good and now long lost friends.

When Alexander came along Rebecca and Christopher were 6 and 4 years old. Once again I found myself needing to find people who could relate to my new-again situation. This time I did not join a parenting group in Greenwich even though Alexander, too, was born there. I needed to find some more local interests that I would be able to fit in between preschool and school schedules. I also needed to get out of the house with Alexander and let him do something with children his age (as opposed to being dragged around to his siblings activities.)

I joined a babygym group when Alexander was but a wee few months old. There I became friendly with a couple of the mothers. Eventually our friendships also expanded and we and got together sometimes with babies and sometimes without. I learned not too long ago that my friend Liz befriended me because I looked “older” as opposed to the barely Twenty-Somethings. I supposed this was meant to be a compliment and to this day I am still not 100 percent certain! A few of us joined other toddler programs and met other toddler moms and our group grew a little bit larger. I got along fabulously with some mothers and others were merely acquaintances.

Alexander and I were invited to try out other activities and join in on group play dates. We did so and had fun. But as a mother of three I have to prioritize activities and play dates among my three and so, eventually, as all my children grew, my involvement in the group became less and less frequent.

One day I was able to make it to a playgroup and bunch of started talking about Facebook. I had been asked numerous times by many friends to join. It took me about a year to do so, but eventually I did. What a trip! Almost as soon as I joined friends from years gone by found me. I had reconnected with long lost friends from high school and college room mates and dorm mates, even  our former Dean of Students. And, on a really happy note, a long lost cousin on my mother’s side. It’s such a great feeling to get back in touch with so many people who had meant so much to me and played such integral roles in my life. I use Facebook as a means of keeping in touch with current friends too. Some are local, but most live across the country and abroad. This Facebook discussion that day at playgroup led me to “befriend” a couple of the mothers. That was the extent of it. I never really used Facebook to connect with those playgroup moms. Really, not even sure why I befriended a couple in the first place. Perhaps it was the newness of it all.

I do not need to have 500 friends to feel good. In fact I would rather have a manageable number of people so I can keep tabs on them all. I mean I was terrible at keeping in touch in the first place, and Facebook has given me a second chance. I am sure there are a few people on there I could remove from my list but why bother. I would hate to hurt or insult someone who had befriended me in the first place. But breaking up internet style is a hot topic these days it seems. I learned this when I came across this Wall Street Journal article a couple of weeks ago.  De-friending people is as tacky as breaking up via post-it note or voice mail. I have done the latter in my youth, but I was young and immature and dumb. And as you know I am no longer young… and not so dumb! Our world is small and getting smaller minute by minute thanks to the internet. After I read the article I saw that I too had been de-friended!

It was playgroup mom had de-friended me. I thought it was amusing, actually. Until I learned that it was a deliberate means of retaliation… an immature act of jealousy, I suppose.  There is a little story behind it. Here goes…

As many of you know we hosted a New Year’s Day party for our friends and their children. Most of the people invited have been near and dear to us since we were in our 20s, single and without children. I also invited three of the playgroup families because we thought their personalities would mix well with our other friends. I intentionally did not invite one of the mothers. I was not trying to be mean or rude, but rather  trying to prevent a potentially awkward situation. I will call this mom Alexa. I was friendly toward Alexa but we never socialized together outside the group of friends. A week or two prior to our party Alexa had had it out with my good friend Liz. It was a Major pow-wow. Alexa was nasty. She had berated Liz for calling her (Alexa’s) babysitter without permission. And while Alexa had every right to be upset about that, she had no right to go off on my friend’s integrity, character and upbringing. Seriously, Alexa was brutal. I gasped at what I my friend Liz told me on the telephone. I have seen Alexa go off the deep end like this before. And because Alexa and I were not friends I really didn’t even consider inviting her on New Year’s Day. I did not want my friend Liz to be uncomfortable by her former friend’s attendance. (Are you following any of this?!) If I host a party I want to be sure that everyone is having a nice time. I did fill the other two mothers in. No explanation was needed. Nothing else was said. And everyone had a really lovely time.

Well, apparently word got out that I had had party and this person was upset not so much that she was not invited, but that her friends were coming without her! I mean how Junior High is this Forty-Something woman?!

To tell you the truth I didn’t even realize that I had been de-friended until I went to leave a private message on a mutual friend’s Facebook page. I almost did not realize that I was one mutual friend less.

Truth be told, what really saddens me is the loss of all the beautiful little girl clothes I had lent this mother’s child. Thousands of dollars of clothes — Gap, Lily, Hannah Anderson, and Talbots Kids among many, many others. All gorgeous items that remind me so much of Rebecca’s youth that I will never see again. Had I known I would have kept these items for myself or passed them along to someone else. I suppose I could send an email asking for clothes back. But wouldn’t that be tacky and wouldn’t that be equally as rude? And is there such a thing as Internetiquette at all?

(Yes, names have been changed to protect individuals!)

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6 thoughts on “Internetiquette?

  1. Internetiquette…I love that term. In my opinion etiquette in general is dying off and the internet perpetuates it by allows people to be rude and sneaky without ever having to look someone in the face. I’m sorry this happened to you, and I think you should ask for the clothing back (in a polite and tactful way of course).

  2. I just recently started Facebooking as well and am addicted. It is such an easy way to keep up with current friends and to get reaccquainted with old friends.

    This person doesn’t know that you know that she defriended you. So, if I were you, I would email or call (which ever means you would have normally used to contact her…unless that was FB!) and pretend that nothing was wrong and after some polite conversation or email banter, ask for the clothes back. Perhaps you could tell her you know someone that really needs them, etc. You’ve got nothing to loose!

  3. I have been able to reconnect with some long lost and much loved friends through FB too and love it for that reason. I agree with Dori in that people seem to have left etiquette at the wayside nowadays. If she’s that rude to people in person, it’s no surprise she has no interetiquette

  4. holy Real Housewives of NYC. Minus the facebook, that totally happened on an episode. I’d ask for the clothes back, for sure. Tell her that one of your friends is having twins and needs to borrow them if she has a girl or two 😉

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