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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cliquety-Cliquety-Claque (Friendships Fly Off The Track)



This is a piece that I wrote about five years ago.  And the subject happens to be about a time in which I was exiled from a Facebook group for what seemed to be no reason at all.  I thought it would be a good time to revisit that piece I wrote all that time ago, and take a look at what I've learned since that day.

Originally written on September 29, 2010.

You know, it's very seldom that I devote an entire note to a recent event that has happened to me.  Normally, I tend to write notes in here that are mostly lighthearted.  Talking about colours and imagery.  Writing about my hopes, dreams, and deepest desires.  Venting about crazy ladies who throw gum at me because our juice supply ran low...

...well, okay, they aren't ALL positive.

But, if any of you who read these notes really know me (and yes, I'll be touching upon that point a little later in this note), you'd know that I tend not to talk about current events in my life.  For one, I don't think anybody would even be remotely interested in my current life, because at times even I find it a bit dull and monotonous (though I am taking steps to remedy that).  And, for another, I actually find it much more therapeutic to talk about things that happened to me in the past so i can look at situations through adult eyes and laugh, heal, make peace with it, etc.

This note is going to be a bit different though. 

I'm sure that when you glance at the title of the article, you'll soon discover that the article is all about cliques (and not about trains, though having a father who worked for a railroad for 31 years makes me kind of a semi-expert in that subject as well). 

The dictionary meaning for clique is as follows...

CLIQUE - a small exclusive group of people.

What's funny is that there are so many people who want so desperately to belong to a clique, but yet so few people actually find themselves actually belonging to one.

Growing up, I never did understand the whole concept of cliques.  To me, I was a kid who wanted to be liked by everybody, and wanted to like everybody.  Of course, a world where everybody likes and respects each other is about as real as a world that is filled with unicorns and fairy dust.  So, you try to make do with what you have.

I do feel that there is a humongous difference between a small group of friends and a clique.  To me, having a small group of friends means having a small group of at least three people who like and respect each other, and will pretty much have each other's backs and won't let other people hurt them, even if they kid each other around with humour and inside jokes.  I'd also like to believe that a small group of friends can like and respect each other in spite of any differences that they may have, and that a small group of friends can accept anybody else who may befriend the other people in the friendship.

But, in my experience, a clique differs quite a bit from a simple group of friends.  To me, a clique is made up of a group of a fixed or determined number...no more, no less.  A clique is formed based on one or more shared interests, and anyone who doesn't relate is immediately excluded from being a part of it.

And, perhaps the biggest difference between a clique and a mere group of friends is the fact that in a clique, friendships are built on a foundation of conditions and high expectations.

Recently, I was involved in a situation that included a clique (rather I was forced into being involved), and the end result has lead to hurt feelings, anger, and general disgust in several people.  I want to speak about this experience I had.  It isn't because I want people to feel sorry for me, because I'm a lot stronger than I let on.  It certainly isn't to get revenge, because I don't play that game.  And, it's not to belittle or begrudge anyone either, because anyone who really knows me (again, a key point to this whole essay), knows that I am the last person who would take pleasure in other people's mistakes.

So, a few months back, I had made some friends with a group of people who were mutual friends of some of my friends.  They had started up a group on Facebook, and when I was invited to join the group, I didn't hesitate.  The group itself was one of those self-improvement groups, and again, to those who know me, they know that I have a bit of an issue with making those self-improvements.  So, joining a group that was originally described as a group where people could share their dreams and their goals with each other...it seemed like it was a fantastic idea.  And, for the first few months, it was great.

Then the cracks began to form.  There was some minor in-fighting between a couple of members, and there were a couple of people who left the group, but since it didn't have anything to do with me, I just ignored it.

Then, about three or four months ago, a couple of my friends were blacklisted from the group for tangling with one of the members of the group who was also a friend of mine.  Again, since it didn't directly affect me, I thought nothing of it.  I was upset that two of my friends were fighting with each other, but again, I trusted that both of them were mature and responsible enough to handle the fights themselves away from the group.

Then, out of the blue...one of the feuding friends decides to end the friendship between her and ME...without any explanation to me in regards of why she did it.  Imagine my surprise when I was left confused, because I was always under the assumption that we were cool, and that I hadn't done anything wrong.  It never dawned on me at the time when this happened, but now that I think of it, I often wondered if maybe she had thought that I had taken the side of the other friend because I was still talking with him.  But, again, I wanted to stay out of it.  Obviously, there were issues between the two of them, and obviously, it was up to them to work it out.  But, the idea that I would have my friendship forcibly ended with one of the people didn't make any sense to me, especially since I wanted to stay out of the line of fire.

So, imagine my surprise when the person who ended the friendship with me sends me a message out of the blue two months later, telling me that I should basically end my friendship with the other person, and that as someone who has such a strong anti-bully stance, I should know better than to have let him on my anti-bullying group because he was such a bully to her.

Let's just go ahead and dissect this little rambling.

First, for someone to decide not to have anything to do with me because of my association with someone she dislikes to then come up and try to tell me to drop this person as a friend tells me one thing.  She's a troublemaker.  I don't like troublemakers very much.  And, besides...she decided way back when that I wasn't important or worthy enough for her friendship and now she decides to warn me about him?  Sorry.

Second...the person she had the conflict with and I have been friends for almost an entire decade.  It would take a lot to get me to walk away from a friendship that I've had for such a long time.  Personality conflicts between people happen all the time...my friend of almost 10 years probably has friends that he has that I probably would not like...and similarly, I'm sure that I have contacts that he's not fond of.  But would we end the friendship because of this?  Unless that friendship was purely toxic, not a chance.  I'm just sorry that the other person involved in the dispute was so insecure in our friendship that she chose to end it without hearing my side of the story.  Because if she really knew me, and really valued my friendship, I most certainly would have tried to keep things civil, and I would have tried to keep both friendships going.

Thirdly, I don't do well with ultimatums.  For the record, my friendship with the guy that has lasted ten years has never issued me any sort of ultimatum in regards to my friendships with others.  He may not like everyone I hang out with but I'd like to think that we're secure enough in our friendship that we need not worry.  The other person ended the friendship and THEN told me two months later why she did.  Sorry, not good enough in my opinion.

And, lastly...to try and use my beliefs and my passion about a certain subject as a guilt trip to try and win brownie points from me...I'm sorry...to me, that is pretty low, and if anything, it damages their credibility a heck of a lot more than it damages mine.

So, long story short...I chose to remain loyal to my friend who I had known the longest.  His friendship is real, genuine, and not based on a set of conditions.  Hers was, and the more I thought of it, the more I realized that having a friendship with her wasn't meant to be.

Then it really hit the fan.

Not long after she messaged me, which I pretty much ignored, the founder of the group that I belonged to piped in with her two cents, saying basically a repeat of everything that the other one had said...that my other friend was bad news, I was getting in over my head, she didn't feel comfortable maintaining the friendship as long as I was friends with the other one...you know...things like that.  I messaged her back, saying that I would at least speak to my other friend to get the whole story (mainly because I didn't understand why he was being blacklisted, and why I was being blacklisted right alongside him).

Shortly after that message, I then went to visit the group that I was a part of to see if I could get some advice on how to handle the situation as someone who seemed to be unintentionally caught in the middle. 

Only I couldn't find the group.

It was only after that when I realized that all of my friends (with the exception of two) from that group had either blocked me, or decided that I wasn't worth having as a friend, and then it dawned on me.

I was blacklisted from that group because I had chosen the friend who they did not like anymore.  I was basically shown the door by the owner of the group and her other friends because apparently I was friends with the enemy.

Did I mention that this was all done BEFORE the founder of the group contacted me?  That she had ended our friendship and kicked me out of the group BEFORE she told me that she was ending the friendship?

I'm sorry, but what cowardice on her part.

Had I known that she had done this, I would not have been nearly so nice to her in my reply back.  I would have likely told her off, and told her off real good.

When it first happened, I'll admit it.  I was deeply hurt.  Why would I be kicked out of a group for such a silly reason like that?  Why wasn't my friendship important enough for them?  Didn't they enjoy my contributions?  Didn't I inspire them?

Turns out, I wasn't the only one.

I know of quite a few people who were also kicked out of the group for basically the same reason I was.  We just didn't fit into THEIR group.

We weren't IMPORTANT enough for them.

They had essentially become a clique...and the troublemaker who tried to cause trouble between my friend and I was right in the center of it all.

It was like high school all over again...being on the outside of the clique that contained some of the "coolest" kids in the school.

Though, looking at this clique, and many other cliques that I've had to encounter in my school years, through adult eyes, I have a different conclusion.

There isn't anything "cool" about a group of people who shun others because they don't seem to fit THEIR criteria.  What it shows is insecurity plain and simple.  Insecurity about themselves, and insecurity about their relationships with other people.

If that group of people really (and I mean REALLY) knew me, they'd know that I am the last person who would want to hurt anyone's feelings intentionally.  I am incredibly loyal to people who show loyalty back.  The fact of the matter is that my friend of almost ten years has shown me that loyalty, even when times got too tough, while the whole lot of those people didn't think twice about ending my friendship based on a conflict between two people who were not me.  And, people wonder who I'm going to align with.

Let's get one thing straight.  I don't have any respect for the way this situation was handled by the group.  I'm not acting like a Mother Teresa here and saying that I was absolutely perfect.  I know that I could have done more to try and understand both sides of the story...but it's incredibly difficult to try and get both sides when one side immediately cuts you off before you get a chance to hear them out.

I also don't like the idea of people turning against other people just because another person tells them to do so.  It happened with another one of my closest friends too, and to me, it shows more about their character than it could ever possibly say about them.

People have made mistakes.  Lapses in judgment.  Things that they could do over again if they could.

I wish that I didn't need to join that group to know that I am a fantastic person who is incredibly loyal to their TRUE friends.  Although, in a way, I'm glad I did join, because I quickly discovered who my real friends were from that experience.

The whole experience could have left me bitter, but I choose not to let that happen.  Clearly, those people in the group made their choices, and they'll ultimately have to live with their choices.  I just hope they realize that what they did to me and my friends was much more hateful, hurtful, and immature than anything that my friends could have done.

The worst part about this is that I still would have posted on that group.  I still would have used that group as a springboard for healing my old wounds and finding my inner strength.  If the opportunity wasn't snatched away from me by force, I'd still be a member there.  But, it's kind of ironic in a sense that my deletion from that group lead to the addition of inner strength, self-worth, and self-esteem.



And here we are...five years later, and I still have these same thoughts.  I still have no tolerance for cliquey people, and whenever possible, I try to avoid them as much as possible.  If they want to have their own exclusive group, by all means, let them.  In the end, they'll only become some of the loneliest people to ever grace this world. 

I'm confident enough in myself to know who my real friends are.  And believe me.  They know it.

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