One thousand one hundred and eighty-one.
That’s a lot of friends for an introvert.
In my 40+ years on Earth, I’ve been on Facebook for 10, and have found people from all periods of my life that have shown up on the platform. Many I’ve friended, especially in the early days of social media when we added friends simply because we knew them. In the early days of online interacting, it was like collecting baseball cards—the more, the better. And often, that meant quantity over quality.
But as time progressed, social media evolved and it’s no longer a place to simply update your status with your daily activities. It’s a place to network, location check-in, have online coffee dates, connect with others over like-minded interests, promote your own business, and even find out the latest news. Every platform has its benefits and faults, and depending on which you use most frequently, you may decide that it’s time to get serious.
So I’m not sorry that I unfriended you.
Having always been a rule follower and someone who despises confrontation, I’ve historically used Facebook to add friends and never delete them. For many years, I have been building an online presence with products I have sold, and then later as a blogger. So I wanted as many connections as possible. If you got bored with me, or my constant updating annoyed you, I would let you delete me. But I never deleted you.
In today’s day and age, there’s a lot of stuff occupying our attention, including our social media feeds. Platforms are changing and morphing, adding new features and benefits so that people can see exactly what they are interested in based on their online presence. Facebook has added many features to facilitate groups, which people were already using to find like-minded friends to have an online discussion. Now you can essentially find a group for anything you may be interested in: parenting, business, TV Shows, podcasts, you name it, there is usually a Facebook group supporting it. Our newsfeeds are no longer showing up chronologically, but rather are based on a complex system of analytics depending on your interests. Instagram has also followed suit. And when that changed, I used it as an excuse to delete accounts I was no longer interested in. Using Instagram for inspiration, I wanted to curate my feed to reflect my current interests.
And that had nothing to do with whether or not you are my friend.
Everyone is busy. So it stands to reason that we only want to see the things most important to us when we’re scrolling through social media. Maybe you only have a few moments a day and you are simply interested in seeing news updates and local stories in your feed. So when I post pictures of my kids on a school field trip, I can see how that doesn’t necessarily interest you.
It’s just not personal.
On Facebook, however, I’ve found that going through my friend’s list can be a daunting task. There are people from different phases in my life that I know I will never see again, and yet, I like keeping up with them online, no matter how trivial it may seem. Somehow it makes me feel connected to that time in my life. It keeps the memories fresh. Memories that I guess I never want to lose.
With others, it’s a geographical thing. I will probably never see those girls I used to work with who live in Texas or California again. But I am curious about their lives and how they live them. There are cultural differences between us, and even just watching them go through life in a different weather pattern is curiously interesting. So I keep them as friends.
But then there are people in my social media feeds that bring up feelings I don’t want to deal with. Perhaps they are doing the job I used to do, and I can’t help but feel bad about myself watching them continue on without me. It has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me. Watching them in meetings together, toasting successes and smiling for the camera somehow makes me feel left out. Even though I chose to be where I am today, it still hurts. Just a little.
And so I have chosen to unfriend. And I’m not sorry about it.
Ten years into the social media game, it’s really okay to streamline what you can see and who can see you. We are all experiencing this wave of social media innovation for the first time, and so I find it interesting to see how we have evolved in our online behaviours. Recently I saw a Facebook friend at the grocery store, and she looked right at me and walked past me. Call me old school, but if we’re friends online, aren’t we friends in real life?
Perhaps it’s time to unfriend a few more.