Layering Social Conventions on Facebook


Communications in the Digital Age

I had the experience of being formally ‘unfriended’ on Facebook recently and it gave me pause for thought about the way that social media has changed the way that we interact with people in the Digital Age. While the naysayers and luddites trumpet on about the internet having a degenerative affect on our social skills, this incident showed me that, in fact, quite the opposite is true. Facebook has added layers of complexity to our basic relationships that its designers doubtlessly never dreamt of as being a part of their user experience.

In many ways, this act of unfriendliness demonstrated how much the internet has added to our social interactions in microcosmic form. The trouble all began when I made a new friend. Seemingly, this is an innocent enough thing to have done. I first met the new friend on Facebook and we later became acquainted in meat-space and our cyber-friendship evolved. The problem with this was that a certain faction among my old friends harbored animosity for the newly acquired acquaintance which simmered away until it finally reached a zenith of social necessity.

It seems that the catalyst that finally necessitated the drawing of cyber-battle lines revolved around the evergreen motive for online hostilities (at least in the uber secretive world of arcane occult societies)- the publication of an image on a website. As I happened to be the designer of this particular piece of real estate in the blogosphere, I was approached to remove the offending picture. My reply was, that while I was the web designer I was not the webmaster and their request should be directed to the owner of the website. Apparently, inflammatory e-mails were exchanged like cannonades across the void of cyberspace and, after these opening hostilities, ambassadors were sent out to inform all of the parties not directly connected to the conflict between the two warring states, but who have pre-existing diplomatic ties, exactly which side they are not on. And so it was that the embassy from one side delivered my “unfriending” in a formal manner so that I could be made aware of the general disapproval in my choice of associates.

In synopsis; the “unfriendly” notification informed me that the “unfriender” (let’s call him ‘the party of the first part’) had had a very nasty message delivered via his inbox from my webmaster friend (hereafter referred to as the party of the second part) and, as I was the obvious connection between them (I still don’t quite know how when this is actually a squabble between witches and I am not, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever want to be a witch of any description whatsoever), that I (referred to as ‘the party of the third part’) was to be banished from the part of cyberspace currently under the control of the party of the first part (and their immediate associates). I know- it is complicated from where I am looking at it too.


One Less on Facebook

Now, I have been “unfriended” in the past but the process is generally not so formal. The usual practice, as most of us would already be familiar with it, generally involves being deleted quietly from someone’s friends list and barred from having access to the private information and innermost thoughts that they post for 1 billion people to read on the web. This added facet to the “unfriending” process at first seemed like a call back to the schoolyard where your 3rd grade buddy told you that he couldn’t be friends with you anymore because the cool kids said so (it is also kind of like the way that your buddies’ spouses tell them not to go to the pub or play the horses with them anymore). Obviously, the “unfriender” could have just clicked on the delete button and been done with it but taking the time to send me a note to inform me of my impeding state of “unfriendedness” implies a deeper communication (unless the cool kids got to him).

This added layer of intention is a part and parcel of the social media experience and has fundamentally changed the way that we interact socially. In the dark ages before the interwebz (yes there was such a time), nobody would write somebody a nice note to tell them that they had decided to scratch their name out of the rolodex. Communications with people that you had chosen to “unfriend” tended to fall into one of two categories; legal proceedings or death threats. Nobody’s mum made them sit down and write the kid down the road a nice note to say that they weren’t allowed to play with them anymore- you just avoided them at the pub and stopped answering the phone when they called.


When will Facebook add this essential function?

The separation afforded by the internet has made it possible to add a layer of complexity to the process of dumping someone from your birthday party invitation list. It allows you the comfort of being able to let them know exactly which character flaws you cannot abide, express your disappointment in their life choices and still maintain the mask of regret at having to sever ties, creating an image, at least internally, that you have done everything possible to save the relationship with an otherwise irredeemable rogue. Not only is this process of justification a salve for your conscience but it allows you to cut off the party of the third part on your own terms- or so you think anyway.

Where, except on Facebook could social interactions develop such levels of complexity?

How to Unfriend Someone on Facebook- Mashable


About dgmattichakjr

D G Mattichak jr was born in 1963 in Syracuse New York and immigrated to Melbourne Australia with his family in 1972. He was educated in one of Melbourne’s exclusive private schools before studying art at Preston Technical College. D G Mattichak jr has been a student of the occult arts since the early 1980s and has become well known in Australian magickal circles and, in recent years, around the world due to a string of essays on a variety of occult subjects . He discovered the “key to the order & value of the English alphabet” from Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law in 1983 and has since used this English Qabalah to unlock the secrets of Thelemite magick. Success in these methods admitted him to the highest levels of attainment in various Hermetic disciplines and until recently he has been passing on his knowledge to private students, many of whom have gone on to become notable occultists in their own right. After almost three decades of study and development D G Mattichak jr has finally been able to distil his knowledge of magick and Thelema into a book- A Comment on the Verses of the Book of the Law, the first in a planned series of books on Hermeticism and Thelemite magick, revealing, for the first time in over a century, the secrets of magick that have been hidden in Crowley’s magnum opus, the Book of the Law. D G Mattichak jr currently lives in Melbourne Australia with his artist wife Michelle and their two cats. He has had a long career as an al a carte chef in Melbourne’s vibrant hospitality scene and now spends his time writing blogs on cooking, writing and, in the guise of Master Ankh af na Khonsu, about magick. He is also one of the founding members of the Mt Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering and regularly contributes to its official website as both an administrator and as an author. D G Mattichak jr’s first book Loot was released in 2009. His books are available through at G Mattichak&x=13&y=20 .
This entry was posted in blogging, D G Mattichak jr, Des Reaburn-Jenkin, media, social media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Layering Social Conventions on Facebook

  1. Pingback: Internet as Booze | Do What's Right

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