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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Tidd

Why it's Okay (and sometimes necessary) to Unfriend People on Social Media

There is a meme going around that says something like, "Post this if you've never unfriended anyone on social media." I don't know if it's meant to showcase how tolerant people are of each other or what the point is, but I know I do not meet the requirements of sharing that post.

Call me bitchy, but no one on my friends list is exempt from me hitting the "unfriend" button - I've even unfriended a family member. I'm also not one of those people who welcomes anyone and everyone to their personal Facebook page - that's what my public Facebook pages are for. I don't mind a following of thousands on public pages, but my personal page is, for the most part, carefully cultivated.

I've always been that way, but I've gotten even pickier during the last few months. With COVID, racial discrimination, and an election coming up I've learned that I have to be careful about what I'm reading because I believe that it has a direct effect on my mood and mental health. And right now I'm doing everything I can to stay balanced and not go completely off the deep end.

Don't get me wrong - disagreeing with me is not reason enough for me to unfriend you. I don't cull my newsfeed so it only contains posts that I agree with. In fact, I've unfollowed people that I DO agree with just because their posting is relentless and one can only take so much.

Here's what I look for when it comes to who I want on my newsfeed:

  1. Are they actually reading articles before they post them or are they just hitting "share" because they like the title?

  2. Does it seem like they've done any sort of research on a topic before they share something from a news source I've never even heard of? Or are they just posting whatever they can find that seems to prove whatever point they're making...even if it's incorrect information?

  3. Are they vulgar and rude while expressing their opinions in their post and in their comments?

  4. Are their values so different from mine that I think that if we met face to face we wouldn't be friends?

  5. Does what they post add value to my life?

Now, most of the time, even if someone meets most of these criteria, I don't automatically unfriend them. As odd as this may sound, I've come up with a system that I usually implement before I hit the final button.

  1. I will snooze the person for 30 days. This is possibly one of Facebook's best features. I'll remove them for 30 days and then when that time is up, they're automatically back in my newsfeed. When they come I still find them shocking or annoying? Sometimes I don't. Sometimes that's enough of a break - but sometimes it's time for me to move on.

  2. Occasionally I will unfollow someone while still keeping them as a friend. This means that I can still go back and skim through what they're posting, but they're not a daily distraction. Again, if I find myself getting angry, annoyed, or depressed reading the feed (and this can happen with people I do AND don't agree with), then it's time to cut the cord.

  3. Of course there are some people who show up on my feed and I have no idea how they got there OR what has changed so drastically for them in the last few months that I feel like I don't even know them. Then it's time for me to move on.

Again, I understand there are people out there who collect "friends" on their feeds and seem to enjoy debating through comments on posts. I don't. I'm one of those people who looks to social media for what I'd LIKE to be a balance of reliable news, humor, and connection with people I don't get to see in person every day.

The rest of it can go away...with just the click of a button.

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