I joined Facebook way back when. Originally, I “friended” everyone who sent a request, but then quickly “unfriended” high school acquaintances that made no attempt to friend my shy 1980’s self. Since then I rarely “unfriend” anyone. It seems like no matter who crosses my path in life, I must “friend” them. Therefore, each and every day they are invited into my house when I open up Facebook. For many, I know I will never have a conversation with them outside of “liking” one of their posts. I know that in general, we share absolutely no interests. But, we remain “friends”.
This all changed for me during this election. It finally dawned on me that I don’t have enough space in my head to remain friends with people I don’t know who are posting what I consider to be “hateful” posts or posts that are totally different than my own beliefs. In fact, I find “unfriending” to be healthy. Why should I allow my mind to be exposed to so much information on a regular basis that shows hate towards the very things I believe in? Plus, I have decided that for some people, it really is better to only know each other casually. I like that person much better when I don’t see the things they “like” or comment on. I’d prefer to comment on the beautiful blouse they are wearing in person than to know what is in their hearts and minds. I realize some may feel the exact same way about me and I hope they also will remove me so we can continue to see a bright side of each other in our occasional meetings.
During this week after the election, I have had intense conversations with family and friends whose philosophies differ from mine and I am so thankful for them. I have learned a lot. I want to learn how others think so that I can grow as a person. Discussion is good. But, I can no longer allow hateful energy into my home when I open Facebook, especially from people I barely know. So, my new policy is that I am not accepting people I have never had any conversation with or see having. If I am interested in becoming “friends”, I want to be able to see their page before agreeing to the relationship. And for my close friends and family, I will choose to “unfollow” rather than “unfriend” when I see repeated hateful posts that are not intended to share information but instead put negativity into the world. I don’t have the energy for it and it isn’t healthy for me.
What about you? Have your practices and policies changed on social media after this election?
5 thoughts on “"Unfriending" is Healthy”
Mine have not. I have lots of friends on Facebook, but we pretty much respect each other. If someone does not show respect I drop them or just as likely they drop me for being (as one guy put it “to much like a woman”). Well I would rather be who I am than who someone else wants me to be and to be fair most of my Facebook friends are women so that works out.
Rick, I LOVE who you are. Never change.
I love how you have reframed unfollowing something positive, something that allows you to see the beautiful in each other.
I love this post. I have struggled immensely with this issue over the past few months. I have decided that I first unfollow someone (people who I am “friends” with are for a reason…not many random strangers). I don't unfollow someone based on their opinions, but based on the context of what they say. I have about 25 people unfollowed because I don't want the constant, daily negative energy zapping me of my peace.
However, one of my FB friends wrote a status update that said, “I hate all Republicans.” I'm not a Republican, but that kind of hate I have no use for, so I unfriended her (she was more of an acquaintance.)
Thanks for reading and commenting Christine. I completely agree with you. Even the folks that think like me can get a little exhausting and negative. For most of us, we spend a lot of time on FB and to read an abundance of negativity, either direction, takes a lot of energy that most of us don't have to spare.
I hope you are doing well. Enjoy the holidays.