Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Facebook Friend or Foe?

I am now Facebook friends with my ex-step-sister.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

I was 5 and she was 6 when my mom and her dad got married. She spent the school year with her mom back East and spent summers with her dad, and by default, the rest of us. That first summer, my brother and I got lots of lectures about how we needed to be nice and make an effort to be friends because it was going to be so awkward for her. We understood.

I shared my room, my toys, and all my belongings. We showed her around the neighborhood and made sure she was always included when we played with our friends. She came to birthday parties and sleep-overs, bike riding adventures, neighborhood games of sneak at dusk, endless hours of swimming, etc.

Yet there was still so much tension.

We were each given a list of chores. When my brother & I were still busy doing our chores like mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, washing the sheets and making the beds, when her only job was to take the sheets off the bed, we didn't understand. When I would try to be considerate and share my things with her, she would scream and throw the items at me, because they were on her side of the room. I would get in trouble for it. I walked on eggshells. When the rest of the step-family (grandma, cousins, etc) would get together for outings and sleep-overs and exclude my brother and I, we knew it, and we did not understand.

Eventually, we got tired of being nice. We knew it would be easy to rile her up, so we teased her. We went outside to play and stopped asking her to come with. We co-existed and tolerated each other, but we were never ever close or friends.

As we got older and went through junior high and high school, I constantly felt compared to her. Look how tall she is! How blonde! How pretty! How thin! How popular! How athletic! She would roll in with her Guess jeans, bikinis, and her yearbook full of photos of her with her various boyfriends, and I would voluntarily enroll in summer school and walk back and forth every day in my Mervyn's outfit, just to get out of the house. We still shared a room, but we barely spoke.

She came to live with us permanently when she was 18. My brother had gone off to college, so we didn't share a room anymore. I was a senior in high school, so I was busy with school, work, and my friends, and she did...whatever it was that she did. I didn't really care what she did. I think the feeling was mutual. You stay out of my way, I'll stay out of yours. We didn't share the same interests or friends. We weren't mean or rude, we just spent as little time as possible together. In our early 20s we both moved out and got married. We would see each other at family functions and holidays. We exchanged our meager gifts and were courteous and civil. We didn't call or get together unless we were obligated to do so. It wasn't so much that we disliked each other at that point, we were just so different and had nothing in common, and neither of us was really willing to make much of an effort.

Then, after 20 years, our parents got divorced and it was bitter and weird, and we no longer had family functions and holidays. So its been like this for about 10 years. We live about 10 minutes away, and we send each other a Christmas card with a picture of our family, but that's it.

And now we're Facebook friends, and I'm not sure if I like it or not. We're still vastly different, and we still have nothing in common, and I'm guessing she feels exactly the same way.


Kristina P. said...

Facebook is just weird. I have "friends" on there I would never be friends with in real life.

peewee said...

Yah, I mean I think it's just a way to keep in touch, very vaguely. I like it actually. As long as no one tries to IM me.

Hey though! Lets be FB friends! Kristin kaminski :)

Kris said...

Ok, peewee. You asked for it! A friend request is on its way! Is it weird that we're both named Kristin?

Yeah, I know Facebook is a vague, passive way to stay in touch, but she'll see updates on my kids, vacations, photos, what I'm doing over the weekend, my Harry Potter teacher quiz results, etc. I mean, that's probably more information than we shared over the 20 years we were step-sisters.

Karen said...

I'm totally with Kristina on this. My friend Emily actually blogged today about her idea for the Facebook friend categories and it cracked me up, but it was totally true. (

It's definitely an awkward situation. My boss is one of my friends. I get along with him and all, but do I really want him to know that much about my non-work life? Do I want to know that much about his?

As for your ex step-sister, I'm wondering if maybe that was a friend add just for the sake of having more friends? I guess it doesn't hurt anything, especially if you still sort of stay in touch, but I wouldn't think you need to feel obligated to keep her. Just my $0.02.

BTW, email me! We really should hang out!

NIKOL said...

It's so funny, Kris, because we've been friends for so many years, and I had no idea that she even lived with you. NO IDEA. How is that possible? I even hung out at your house, for pete's sake. Did I just block her out or what?

I am Facebook friends with a few of my cousins. One cousin just friended me yesterday. She's the daughter of my dirtbag uncle who robbed by grandma blind to pay for his gambling and/or drug problem. But, as peewee said - Facebook is a great way to keep in touch in a very vague way. You can always de-friend her on the sly if you feel too uncomfortable.

Kris said...

Nikol, that just goes to show you how much we avoided each other.

I once had a "party" when the folks were out of town. Everyone from the Branch came over (I'm pretty sure you were there) and she stormed in, glared at me but didn't speak a word, and stormed out to spend the night at her boyfriend's. My mom told me years later that step-sister had been super pissed and told on me the second the folks got home. I never got in trouble though, because they knew my party was all good, innocent, fun and didn't include any of the drinking, drugs, or sex that one of her parties might.