Growing Up and Getting Deleted (From Facebook)

I was dripping with sweat in a New York City heat wave, trying to balance my laptop on my legs while steadying an oscillating fan gone wild, when I realized my youth was over. I’d known for quite some time that this moment was en route, only I’d assumed it would reach me some place far less “late-night-teen” than sweating in my bedroom with a fan and my computer. But there I was. Another where-did-my-youth-go manifesto, indeed. Kind of. I still cover up my daylight-hours-glossy-eyes with neon blue Ray-Ban knock-offs that cost five dollars, and I still suck at cooking. I’m bad with money and my Weezer (Blue Album, obviously) poster is still thumbtacked onto my bedroom wall at my parents’ house, beside a photograph of Courtney Love that I ripped out of Spin ten years ago and the Roxy alarm clock that still wakes me up when I’m visiting home. As you can understand, I’m not totally an adult. I don’t have a mortgage, but I’m no longer in Stage I or even II of my youth, because so much time has passed between then and now that I care very little for most of the people I grew up with, and I don’t think they really care about me, either. Par exemple: one of my old friends deleted me from Facebook and I got super upset about it.

Everyone has that moment. They’re eating gross oysters or putting on loafers or suddenly calling a couch a “chesterfield.” They’re meeting friends at the Minetta Tavern or whatever the upscale diner with fourteen-dollar mimosas is called where they live. Everyone will inevitably, at some point, pause and recognize that they no longer exist in their shoplifting, joyriding glory days, and that the people with whom they partook in these activities grew up to be assholes or bankers or really nice mothers.

Just as so many trivial/ painful things are revealed in this cesspool era of social networking, Facebook was the reason I found myself staring into my computer screen wondering where my friends went. My boss, the editor of a big music magazine, told me that he needed to hire someone to write a feature about punk bands immediately. I listen exclusively to witch house, so I couldn’t take the job. I thought I’d be a pal and offer it to an old friend of mine who is riding the coattails of his successful girlfriend and blogging about Cults in his boxers all day for free. He really wants to be a punk writer, but instead is toughing it out at a bunch of ten-hits-a-day-including-three-from-his-mom music blogs. I figured he could use the gig, so I tried to reach out to him to set it up. I typed his name into Facebook, but quickly discovered he had deleted me. This friend I’d had since high school with whom I’d smoked weed on my sister’s bedroom floor, with whom I’d watched a Pixies concert in the summertime and with whom I’d been sharing Neutral Milk Hotel records with just months before I moved away, had deleted me from Facebook. All I could do was evil-eye the Add Friend button that never used to be there.

Who gives a fuck, really? People delete each other from Facebook all the time. But this delete was so deliberate. I glanced at his friends list. My sister is still on it. All of our high school friends (and enemies!) are still on it. Girls from grade twelve who he had sex with but definitely didn’t speak to ever again are still on it. And I am not, which doesn’t matter, except that it does, because at some point when you’re cruising through your list of Facebook friends deciding who to discard and who to keep, you must make a decision about whether you care to have certain people in your life at all. Perhaps you haven’t spoken to a particular individual in five years, but you really loved them at one point and want to be able to say happy birthday or look at photographs of their children someday. So you keep them. If you have any interest in any person at all, or any inkling that you might one day have a desire to know what they’re doing, you leave them in your life, albeit hanging by a virtual thread, so that they’re not gone forever. To this guy, I am gone forever. Which is fine. He’s not that great a person anyway. If you Google his name, the third link down will take you to fiction work he had published in a magazine I used to edit. I felt bad that he had graduated from four years of journalism school without a single byline, so I convinced my colleagues to save space for him. You’re welcome, you fuck, and I know you stole my sister’s Beatles pin in grade ten but I didn’t make a big deal out of it because you were trying really hard to be angsty and unique at the time.

The zen thing to do here is say that I didn’t care about being deleted, but the fact that I later took my nonchalance to the Internet should tell you otherwise. If we’re being honest (that is what Thought Catalog is for, right?), I’ll admit that there are people I’d rather delete than keep on Facebook/ in my life, but they remain because it would be rude to cut them out, and it’s hard to admit when any relationship is hopeless. I went to a friend’s wedding last summer and didn’t care about it at all. I just heard that another friend – former coke dealer-turned-religious-rehab superstar – is getting married this weekend. And that’s great for them, but these people are so far away from me now. And I think of the basements in which we used to do the things that kids trapped in small towns do in basements on weekends, and I think of how permanent and proper it felt at the time, and I think of how much I didn’t want those days to be over, and how badly I didn’t want to move away to university, how badly I didn’t want any of us to move away to university, how the person I thought I’d probably marry I haven’t spoken to in more years than we were even together, how fake IDs and borrowed/ stolen vehicles were the accoutrements for a normal evening, how that segment of my youth was illegal and exciting and sleazy and free, but exhilarating and now totally dead. The past that was once so important to me, the people I swore I’d love forever in a hometown I thought I’d always care about, is totally irrelevant to my present day self, and I couldn’t change that if I wanted to, although I have tried. Hometowns just don’t matter anymore.

So here’s to the basement. And also, fuck you. TC mark

image – daniellehelm


More From Thought Catalog

  • Jslotter89

    this is quite depressing, but coming from a small town and having moved away, something i imagine ill have to come to grips with soon. 

  • victoria elliott

    as a teenager in a small town that i don’t think i’ll miss/don’t really like right now/might kind of miss this was still really good and a little sad

  • Nicole

    I love this. Thank you for addressing the new way we sever ties and remove people from our existance…via facebook. It seems trivial, useless, silly, but it’s oh so very true. 

  • YES


  • Anonymous

    Hey, I mean, I know this isn’t the point of the article*, but if your boss still needs someone to write about punk bands, I’d love the opportunity.

    *Which is really well-written, by the way, and incredibly easy to relate to. I’ve been on the receiving end of a defriending recently that still stings – it’s always weird to virtually diverge from people who’ve seen you cry on the playground (or after your first heartbreak), even years after you’ve physically done so.

  • Tau Zaman

    Yeah. It’s even weirder in Rhode Island because it’s so tiny that you went to school with everyone you know for like, all 12 years of education. And then a whole bunch of them go to the same college and it’s like 13th grade or something.  Suddenly your former friends end up working at the places you shop, hang out, etc. 

    From Facebook I found out that (at least) one of my friends became a stripper. And it’s a perfectly respectable line of work and all, but I can’t help but feel the slightest twinge of sadness, can’t help but wonder if it was her only option, ya know?

    • Guest

      Don’t feel sad, she’s probably making bank.  

    • TO

      I’m from Rhode Island, I probably know you.

    • TO

      I’m from Rhode Island, I probably know you.

  • Guest

    This resonates so much with my life. I recently went through and deleted 100+ people for the sake of regaining some control and privacy over who knows what about my life, especially now that I’m no longer in school. Within a day one of those people had added me back and I was surprised that a) she even noticed and b) she even cared because we haven’t spoken in 3 years. My closest friends from my hometown are the people who moved away and never want to go back. Those that have stayed closer to home I see and speak to less and less – including my best friend. 

  • vejrubia

    Does everyone who leaves a small city turn out like this?

    I can’t tell if its good or bad, but that’s probably because I need to grow up and get deleted.

    • Asdf

      What the fuck?

  • tracy

    i didn’t want to think about this, tho.

  • Michael Koh

    Maybe it was a game

  • LK

    I grew up in city, not a small town.  But I have found the select few friends i Still have from grammar/middle/high school are some of the better friends I  have now, even after 4 years of college. 

  • LK

    I grew up in city, not a small town.  But I have found the select few friends i Still have from grammar/middle/high school are some of the better friends I  have now, even after 4 years of college. 

  • antonia

    I stopped reading at ” I listen exclusively to witch house”

    • Megan

      I laughed out loud

    • Ben James Murphy

      uhh, i’m pretty sure that was a joke. 

    • Customconcern

      the blue album, obviously

  • Megan

    cool band name-dropping

  • NoSexCity

    Too many and’s!

  • NoSexCity

    Too many and’s!

  • Leigh Alexander

    i mean like if he’s still friends with your sister and way more minor people and you didn’t do anything to him and it hasnt even been that long since you talked to this dude maybe he just unfriended you by accident and doesn’t realize he has done it

    that would be kind of funny if that were the case bc now he’s missing out on a job 

    • Asdf

      I came here to say this exact thing. It’d also make the otherwise decent piece tragically amusing.

    • Loljame

      as someone who has unfriended a bunch of ppl on facebook, i feel the unfriend button is small and hard-to-find enough that it probably wasn’t an accident

      • Asdf

        Have you used the Facebook mobile site? With touchscreens being so imprecise, and the Facebook mobile site being so shitty, I can definitely see it.

  • douchegirl

    This was relevant to me. Yesterday I noticed someone had deleted me and it really hurt me. I mean, I completely understand why he would but still… 

  • Anibal Quiñones

    That has NOTHING to do with growing up. Nothing.
    People just keep moving and devote less time to people as other
    responsibilities come into play. I’ve been friends with people, like
    really close friends where I’ve predicted exactly when our
    relationship would end (the way it was). They swear that it will never
    happen but eventually, it does. That’s how life work. It’s not that
    hometowns don’t matter anymore. Truth is that relationships cost time.
    The least you invest in them the more distant you become. I have
    “friends” that I grew up with, lived wonderful moments, experienced so
    much things and they are just a nice memory today. On the other hand I
    have people in my life that I’ve never seen in PERSON yet stay relevant,
    important and cherished. All it takes is small time deposits into the
    friendship account.

    • Anonymous

      sheesh calm down. 

  • Anonymous

    please use the indent button more often. that is all.

  • Alex Forsyth

    Synopsis: A now older and wiser twenty-something [seemingly] casually mentions “evolution” of music taste, and doesn’t (but does) care of having been deleted from FB.

  • Emily Tugwell

    I’m really not sure what this article has to do with “growing up.” You seem to just regress back to inane teenage name-calling throughout the course of your writing.

    • Ben James Murphy

      where does the writer ever name call? smartly describing something doesn’t mean regression. cheer up, emily tugwell.  

  • Jenna

    I loved this piece, not because I grew up in a small town (I didn’t, but that doesn’t really matter), but because when I came out of the closet I experienced so many people “deleting” me from Facebook and from their lives because of it. The piece points out how futile it is to be hurt over anything that happened on Facebook, but Facebook is really just a mirror of humanity, so I think it totally makes sense to question why you got deleted and ponder what happened to old relationships. Like the story says, we live in a cesspool of social media drama and truths, but those are caused by real life things. Touching piece, I totally relate, but you have written it all out beautifully. Thanks. 

  • Miss A

    “The past that was once so important to me, the people I swore I’d love forever in a hometown I thought I’d always care about, is totally irrelevant to my present day self, and I couldn’t change that if I wanted to, although I have tried. Hometowns just don’t matter anymore.”

    thats painful

  • Lillian

    One time a really good guy friend of mine deleted me on Facebook and I WAS SO UPSET ABOUT IT but we weren’t really talking because of his INSANE girlfriend. This was almost three years ago and just a couple of weeks ago he told me that she had gone through all of his Facebook friends and deleted all the girls that she thought were threatening. /non-sequitur

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