November 17th is upon us – that awkward day you hate to love. I take the word “friend” very seriously. Although it’s just a term for Facebook, words matter a lot to me. Unfriending a person on Facebook or unfollowing people on other social media platforms doesn’t mean that I have any hostility with these people. (That’s what the “block” button is for.) For years, this has been part of my fear: I didn’t want people to think that I had something personal against them.
It took me a long time to get used to the idea of my father being my friend on Facebook. What would he say about my eggplant emojis? Nothing, because I created a totally new account that he knows nothing about and blocked him on the same day. Sometimes it’s not that the other person is being negative; you may like using Facebook to let your hair down and be your playful self without the watchful eyes of parents, clergy, or corporate management. Just think about it. You are always yourself with your friends. They know the most about you. So if a person isn’t truly your friend, why are they on your friend’s list? If one of your so-called Facebook “friends” sends you a message out of the clear blue and it’s off-putting to you, you need just to cut ties with them.
I don’t know how this “friend” concept was envisioned on Facebook. From my understanding, it began as a way for college kids to ping each other and make plans. Some people in the world are truly looking for genuine friends with hopes that Facebook might be their saving grace. So if you have no interest in the people who are padding your friend’s list, let them go. You may be valuing quantity over quality, while some of those folks are looking for the opposite. It’s time for us all to be less superficial and less misleading.
The truth is, for people who I know in real life, including family members, I may only want a certain type of connection with them, such as a social gathering, in-person, once or twice a year. There are people whom I love dearly but don’t respect the posts they put on Facebook. While that’s their page and account to do what they wish, I prefer not to see unwanted content on my timeline. Facebook has even made it such that you can “take a break” from individuals for 30 days without them even knowing it. If they still get on your last nerve, you can just unfollow them. But why do we have to continue to duck and hide when it comes to our own preferences when we can just hit that “unfriend” button?
While I’m grateful for the “take a break” and “unfollow” features that Facebook has, I think actually going ahead to unfriend people would have a greater, more ritualistic impact on my mind. It’s an act of self-love and an act of self-care to give yourself the gift of boundaries with no grey areas. Setting boundaries can indeed be awkward. The thing about awkwardness, though, is that it’s temporary and eventually fades away. If someone asks you in public why you unfriended them, you could simply tell them the truth:
- “We never talk on Facebook. I didn’t even think that you would notice. I use Facebook for networking, and we don’t network. It’s nothing personal. I use Facebook for business.”
- “I have chosen to only be friends with people who share inspirational and motivational content. I don’t mean to come off as judgmental, but your posts put a drag on my mood. It’s not personal against you. I just want my timeline to look a certain way.”
- “While I can appreciate your zeal and enthusiasm to promote your products and services, I can’t get a good idea for what’s going on in my network because every other post is you selling something. It’s not personal.”
- “I’m tired of your annoying Candy Crush game invitations.”
I’m actually looking forward to purging my friend’s list of lurkers. I like this idea of National Unfriend Day. It’s like a digital spring cleaning. The concept is meant to smooth over any hurt feelings or awkwardness since so many people would be participating at once. How would you know who to delete as a friend? I think it primarily boils down to why you use Facebook. If you use Facebook to keep up with blood relatives for arranging family reunions, then you don’t have to be friends with that mail clerk whom you added just because he held the door open for you at your last job.
Article Written by: Consuela Allen @speakerconsuela | Consuela is a Certified Life-Purpose Coach, Certified Peer Specialist, Respect Institute Speaker, Mental Health First Aider, Spiritual Midwife, and Songwriter. In other words, she is a lover of words. Consuela enjoys utilizing written, verbal and musical communication to facilitate healing and wholeness.