I have previously written about friendships, and the way some friendships are for a season, while others are for a lifetime.
When my family makes a move, I eventually go through my FB friends, and pare back my friends – I make room for new friendships, but also release myself from friendships which may have turned out to be more difficult for me to continue.
Not too long ago, when I revisited my initial article, I was prompted by the article to go back and cull my personal FB “friends.” This time, I made a significant scale back of those I had known on FB…
And, I know I hurt some feelings in the process.
The more I thought about the reasons I make it a point to go back and remove friends after every duty station, the more I recognized the decision is not one which is personal.
And, I recognized I needed to make an explanation.
I’m hoping one or two of those whose feelings were hurt find their way to this post.
A couple nights ago, I was laying in bed, surrounded by sleeping family, and finishing my prayers. I was praying specifically for one person whom I had clicked “unfriend.” I was filled with remorse for how significantly I shredded my friends’ list.
I was hurt previously by the friend I was praying for that night, and even though I attempted to express my pain a few times, it fell on deaf ears. I struggled with the pain of the ended friendship, and every time the name popped up on Facebook, the bandaid was ripped open. I became obsessed with trying to avoid updates between mutual friends at all cost, simply because I didn’t want to have the hurt feelings be brought back to the forefront of my mind.
So, I deleted this friend.
And then, deleted many of our mutual friends.
I actually went even further, and scaled back on my “FB friends” list to include only family and friendships which held significant meaning.
I took the words of friendship to heart from my previous articles. Most of my FB friends were “Gesellschaft” friends – those who are friends for a time.
But, yet, what I am learning, now that my list includes very close friends and family, is that, while my decision appears selfish, my mental health has improved. My stress level regarding FB is slowly dissipating, and I find myself once again looking forward to getting on and sharing – between my public page and my private account (surrounded by those whose friendships have meant the most in my life).
Facebook and social media, while a lifesaver for military families, adds another element of stress to society. It muddies friendships, and complicates more relationships than it helps. Which is why I am no longer accepting friend requests on Facebook – because I would rather have a personal, face to face relationship with those we are blessed to live near.
So, to those I have hurt …
I hope this finds its way to you, and I hope you know I am sorry…
Sorry for the hurt of being “unfriended.”
I’m sorry I couldn’t be the long-distance friend I initially thought I could be for you.
Perhaps the Army will station us close enough together again – and, it will allow us to patch things up face to face. Perhaps our friendships could deepen, with more face to face contact, rather than relying on the distance of Facebook.
And, if you have no desire for a face to face friendship, I will understand completely.
8 thoughts on “Why I Clicked “Unfriend””
I love this article! I have hurt people too by unfriending them. I’ve even spoken to people and expressed it was not personal, but they refused to see it that way. But I have to protect myself. I have to stop myself from seeking validation from those who are not a part of my real life. I have to stop myself from being distracted with the personal stories I wouldn’t have known otherwise except from social media. And I have to protect myself from counting on a “friendship” that’s totally digital. It HAS to be done sometimes. It’s not you, it’s me… right?
Exactly! It definitely is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” concepts. And, I guess having been someone to routinely (every time my family moves) unfriend people, I don’t take it *as* personally when I notice I have been unfriended. Sure, it hurts for a bit, but then I look at it through my lens and remind myself that sometimes it isn’t me… for whatever reason, the friendship was more digital than tangible.
And, it’s okay.
I’m glad you appreciated the article! I was a little worried about posting it!
I very rarely unfriend, but unfollow a lot. Sometimes just for times like an election when everyone is heated and posting things that range from a little off to tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories. Sometimes it’s for longer.
I totally get the need to have your feed not be a source of stress! I feel like that’s why I’ve leaned toward using Facebook largely to stay connected in the blog world and encouraging groups.
I do have a wide range of connections on Facebook (such is a requirement when working in an area as diverse and connection-dependent as theater and ballet), but I’ve been glad to have them around. Occasionally I’ll get an out of the blue email or message from someone who has started to looking into NFP after finding my blog linked on my profile. Some have come back to church after years away. Some are getting a more realistic (and encouraging) view of what having kids is like. I’m really glad I kept them around for that, even if we’re not directly interacting much.
God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes via the internet!
I had a lot of people “unfollowed,” but I also clear up my lists every time we move… it’s partly standard operating procedure since we move every two years or so, and I could easily have over 700 “friends” who don’t really know me, or know our family, and vice versa.
So, it has always been a standard procedure of mine. But, this time, I scaled back to those whose friendships have stood the test of time, and also meant something significant. Essentially, keeping those who have become like family through the years. I acknowledge I didn’t fully give credit to some budding friendships – but, perhaps with time and being in a near physical proximity again, those friendships can rebuild.
Thank you for your insight! And, I agree – God does work in mysterious ways…!
We never had the option to “unfriend” via Facebook when we were in the military. Friendships just went away. Every time we moved, we also left friends behind forever. There was no option to renew friendships online, to explain, or to apologize. For whatever reason, they just went. They always left a warm spot in our heart, fond thoughts occasionally, and then we had to move on to new friends. Some were hurtful and others not so much.You will always have friends of “convenience”- some were more friendships of “convenience” more for the other half than for yourself. Take the time to consider how they have positively affected your life for your time together, and then be grateful that you crossed paths. Looking forward now, seek friendships positively, remembering that they may be friends of convenience- you share a time, a space, and similar circumstances for a time. And then the time, space, and circumstances will change.
There are 3 kinds of friendships that older people understand when they look back on their lives…friends for a reason (purpose), friends for a season (time), and friends for a lifetime. In every one of those is the word “friend”- have many, enjoys and understand their impact on your life, and seek out others who will put color into your world for as long as you have them.
Thank you for your insight! You are so correct – in some ways, the ending of friendships within the military community was easier back then, because there was a natural end (the inevitable move). “Reason, season, lifetime” – beautiful thought!
A thoughtful look at another potentially-difficult part of life. It seems as if you have a very practical view of the matter: one which understandably can be difficult for everyone involved.
Although I appreciate Kirby Hoberg’s point, and have ‘unfollowed’ on rare occasions – – – for one reason or another, I have had views very different from most folks around me during most of my life.
Learning to shrug off apparently-irrational rants and step carefully around topics that are likely to trigger a lecture about [insert screwball conspiracy theory of choice] is a useful skill. One which I have yet to master. 😉
Speaking of conspiracy theories – my favorite is one that I’ve not encountered personally. According to some, the world is really run by shape-shifting space-alien lizard men. In a way, that explains *so* much. And no, I do not think it’s true.
Thank you for your compliment!
And, I think there is a very valid time and place for “unfollowing” vs. “unfriending.” Yet, with my new philosophy, I am hoping to have to do neither!
And, I’m gonna have to think on that conspiracy theory. It is definitely a first for me… 🤔 And, I am going to have to think about that one! 😂