As I addressed my Christmas cards this year, I realized I didn’t have an updated address for a friend of mine. I logged onto Facebook to say hello and ask for her new address.
Then I realized we weren’t friends.
There she was, and right next to her profile was the little “add friend” icon.
I had been unfriended.
My first thought was that there must be some mistake. This “friend” is one of my oldest childhood friends, and yes, we haven’t talked in years, but I lived on one side of the world and she lived on the other side of the world, and people get busy, and people have kids, and people deal with the pressures of relationships, work, and family, and they might not always have time to be the “friend” they want to be.
I immediately tried to think of what I had done to deserve it. Perhaps I posted too frequently, or maybe it was the status updates, or the check-ins, or the many, many “likes” of Jiffpom photos. Maybe it was all of the above? Maybe it was none of the above? Maybe it was me?
Either way, she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore, and it stung. A lot. More than I care to admit.
Over the years I have occasionally done a pruning of my Facebook friends. I might “unfriend” an old hairdresser, or neighbor, or someone I took a First Aid course with seven years ago. My rule of thumb is that if I wouldn’t recognize you on the street, we probably don’t need to be Facebook friends.
Unfriending online is easy – just one click — but I never thought about the repercussions. I never thought that someone might feel the pang of hurt when they notice we’re no longer friends, the very same pang that I felt when I saw that I had been unfriended. If you’ve been unfriended, you may have felt that hurt, or perhaps you were surprised, or maybe even relieved.
My friend Becky recently shared an “unfriending” experience with me. A friend of hers sent her a Facebook friend request, but Becky was sure that they were already friends. Becky later received a message from the friend stating that she had unfriended Becky a few months back because she was jealous of her “perfect life.” Becky replied that her life is far from perfect, and that social media is not an accurate depiction of it; her life also includes kids with fevers, cats puking up hairballs, spilled milk, and fractured relationships.
There are a lot of reasons why someone might want to prune their social media network, but there’s something very important to keep in mind: It might have nothing to do with you.
It might be due to social media insecurities, or jealousy, or their dislike of adorable Pomeranians, or maybe it’s just as simple as they wouldn’t recognize you on the street?
Whatever it is, don’t take it on.
Your social media profile is not an accurate representation of who you are. You are much more than your likes, favorites, and photos. Don’t let one person’s click or the complicated world of social media determine your worth as a “friend.” Take the opportunity to share and connect with your real friends and enjoy the real world around you.
I may never know why my childhood friend chose to unfriend me, but life is too short and too precious to dwell on the things that I can’t change. I know that I am a great friend to my real friends, and I’d rather spend my time and energy nurturing those real relationships.
Have you had an unfriend-ing experience?
Image via Auste Skrupskyte