There isn’t a minute that goes by in which someone isn’t checking a social media platform – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
And it should not be surprising based on some recent user statistics showing Facebook with 1.3 billion monthly active users, Twitter at 288 million monthly active users, Instagram picturing in 300 million users, and LinkedIn connecting roughly 347 million users.
With most of the social media platforms, if someone begins to follow or requests to follow you, a notification is provided to you. I assimilate this notification as a notion of acceptance or being picked to join the cool kids’ dodge ball team (it’s always nice to feel wanted, right?).
With the initial connection, there are typically some short immediate conversations. Over time, these conversations will more than likely dissipate over time and the interaction turns to monitoring/viewing from afar, unless you are close friends.
With distant engagements occurring more and more through social media, there should be no surprise in the number of friends drops that are taking place. As such, being cut from the cool kids’ group will essentially evoke two emotions: dismay or indifference.
If I look at myself, I have a tendency to fall into the indifference category because I am one of those people who will drop someone from my friend list without warning. Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when someone drops me, it doesn’t hurt my feelings.
I have been asked many times about why I would drop someone without warning and why I wouldn’t just unfollow the person. Or better yet, how can you do that? My response: if I am willing to unfollow them so I do not see their content, then what is the point of still remaining their friend? To make them still feel like we are connected and friends? Screw that.
Nine times out of ten, anyone I drop we usually do not speak regularly anyways. We connected because we happened to be in the same professional industry, know a handful of the same people, and then one of us initiated the friend request to connect.
Given the amount of information we face each and every single day, I have a choice as to what I want to be presented with. If the content or the relationship/interaction doesn’t meet my expectations, I move on to people, topics, ideas, and thoughts that benefit me to help others and myself.
Now, not everyone is able to take the route of indifference when defriending someone on a social media platform and dealing with the after effect. In fact, a recent study shows that 50% of people who were unfriended would avoid the person who defriended them in real life. No surprise there – occurs all the time with face-to-face relationships. However, my pushback to anyone who has an issue with someone defriending them whether online or face-to-face: if it is that big of a deal for you, why is it a big deal for you?
Situations like these are perfect for self-reflection and opportunities to explore some of the questions below:
- Is the relationship you lost that impactful?
- How often do you speak with the person?
- Would you consider the person a friend or an acquaintance?
- What did you get from the relationship and on the flip side, what did you give?
- Why do you care that you were unfriended?
- Is the emotion you are feeling because you truly care or that you feel unpopular?
Depending upon your answers, you may realize you don’t give a shit; or, that you really want to explore how you can mend the relationship.
One thing I will note, is if the situation is one where there is a working relationship (meaning you work with the person each day), then the costs of the defriending are much higher. Meaning, regardless of your answers to the questions above, it is necessary to provide some mending to ensure professionalism and work can continue to get completed. You don’t have to be friends, but you do have to ensure work is not disrupted. Furthermore, let this be a learning lesson that just because you work together doesn’t mean you have to be friends on every social media platform out there.
When you provide channels for someone to know everything about you that you normally wouldn’t discuss face-to-face, then you cannot get upset when someone judges you for it.
So here is my advice: don’t worry about being in the popular crowd and feeling you have to be friends with everyone. Understand why you would want to be friends with the person and know what you can give and get from the relationship. It is no different than creating friendships face-to-face.
Remember, we get what we want by following our true selves and not everyone else.
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