Can we all have a moment of silence for the time when acquaintances could slowly slip out of your life with very little drama? Before Facebook and the friending of EVERYBODY we come in contact with on a daily basis. Before a simple click of a button started a whole slew of problems, you aren’t even aware of until months later.
We’ve all been there, the moment when we realize we have hundreds of friends, most of whom we don’t even really know. (And let’s be honest, after about a week, their posts make you realize why you didn’t get to know them in the first place.) You don’t really mesh well. And guess what? THAT’S OKAY!
Well, it used to be, anyway, until Facebook morphed into this weird social/professional networking site.
I got sucked into it for a long time, where I didn’t unfriend ANYONE. People I hadn’t interacted with or who hadn’t interacted with me AT ALL the entire time we were connected. People I met one time at an event, who I would walk by in public and we might recognize each other from that event, might say hello and then we’d keep moving. That person who was in my group at a convention, who friended me, who I hadn’t spoken to since. This person that I worked with 20 years ago, that person I went to school with and actually had to look up in the yearbook because we didn’t really hang out in high school. With each new job, each new connection, each new thing, my friends list kept growing and growing and growing.
And it flat stressed me out.
I started holding back on sarcastic funny posts. The posts my real friends would get. The ones that would make them laugh, because there were people on my friends list now that I didn’t know, or to be bluntly honest, did not enjoy my sarcastic sense of humor. Totally cool. I would refrain in real life from those moments, but I enjoyed making people laugh on social media.
I stopped commenting on things going on in the world, something I always enjoyed doing because I LOVE to debate. (Not argue. Not flame. DEBATE. I know, it’s a lost art, but still happens on occasion.) I stopped sharing that meme that made me laugh and I knew would make my friends laugh because someone on my expanded social/professional friends list would get offended.
At one point, I even had people broken down into categories: family, acquaintances, professional contacts, friends who are also sarcastic and funny. Then I had to remember, each time, what group I was posting to. The ridiculousness of that situation landed on me at 2 a.m. one morning and I proceeded to scroll down my friends list and start deleting people. (320 to be exact) People I didn’t really know. People I no longer had anything in common with, who I never interacted with, who NEVER interacted with me. Despite the guilt I felt, it was extremely freeing. Why? Because I had a major life change and most of those people weren’t a part of that change. They knew the old me, not the real me and the real me is an acquired taste and not for everyone.
And I won’t say the random friending hasn’t had its plus side. I have several people on my friends list who I didn’t really know before, who appear to have the same sense of humor as me and we often share funny comments back and forth. Those people are fun. I like those people.
(Don’t unfriend me after this. You know who you are.)
On occasion, Facebook does unfriend people for you. I have had that happen. If I notice, it’s probably because we often interacted and I have reached out to those people before, just to let them know that I didn’t unfriend them. (I also make it clear that if they did, because they were cutting down their numbers, it was totally cool and I didn’t take it personally. Because apparently, we have to do that now.)
If, however, when the “On This Day” app shares something from two years ago and I notice they commented on that one post and we are no longer connected, I don’t. Why? It’s simple. Because I didn’t notice for TWO YEARS.
The reality is, since getting their hands smacked, Facebook has slowly started pushing the platform away from a professional and back to a more social type network. Despite how bad that SUCKS for my business end of things, I’m really okay with it from a personal end of things. I look forward to the day when I won’t feel a little guilty for refusing to accept someone’s request or for deleting someone, or worrying just a little that either of those actions will cause a drama explosion somewhere.
When it comes to Facebook, people often warn people about what they say or do and how it can come back to haunt them. The ONLY reason that is a problem is because of the sheer number of “friends” you have, who really aren’t your friends. (Or you don’t know how to lock down your account and you make everything public. In that case, that’s your fault. Take a course.)
So this is the deal. If you are on my friends list and find you really want to unfriend me, do it! It’s all cool. I’ll still speak to you in the grocery store. (I won’t stand and talk to you long. I don’t like to shop on a good day. I definitely don’t want to be in there any longer than I have to.) You can still message me about professional things. I’m not going to suddenly start ignoring you, just because you (gasp) unfriended me.
(Unless you are a sarcastic funny person. Please don’t go. I need people like you in my life.)
Cue “Please Don’t Go Girl” on repeat in my head. Score! NKOTB fan for life!
Michelle Leigh Miller is an independently published author, freelance writer, and blogger in Southeastern Ohio. Basically, she is just writing words.