Okay peeps, this is a serious topic… Well, maybe not necessarily serious, but one that stings, and one that resonates for me personally. I’m talking about the tragedy of being “unfriended” on Facebook (when someone chooses not to be connected with your profile any longer). I know you may be thinking that this is a bit melodramatic, and I just started, but I’m hoping that this very public disclosure might be what I need to move on past actually caring when I get unfriended on Facebook.
As the Creative Team Lead at red balloon, I live and breathe the world of social media, which has heightened my awareness of the significant part social media plays in our lives. While I don’t necessarily feel defined by social media, its role in my life often underscores those deep-seated insecurities from younger years, especially when it comes to breaking up with a friend. Unfortunately, Facebook has a way of bringing those insecurities to the surface, which brings about some obsessive, analytical behavior that is just plain embarrassing (I’ll get there… hold tight!).
But first, let’s talk about the reasons for unfriending:
- The Bar Buddy – you know your insta best friend? Girls are famous for doing this – you swear you will keep in touch, but of course it was just the ten Lemon Drop shots that shaped that fleeting bond.
- The Professional Severance – there’s not much to this… it was a bad work sitch, anger or embarrassment that prompts an ole tap on the unfriend button.
- The Uncouple – another obvious one, this goes for both friendships and romantic relationships, but let’s say it didn’t end well. Now, this one may go a step further with unfriending everyone associated with that evildoer 👹.
- The Cleanser – This is going through your ‘friends list’ and purging casual acquaintances or people you haven’t spoken to in a long time. My favorite with this one… when the purger announces in a passive aggressive post that others may be purged. Brilliant… NOT!
- The Ughfriend – You know when you’re scrolling through your feed, and you think, “Ugh, why am I friends with this person?” Unfriend!
- The Game Requester – When someone is just using you for more lives in Candy Crush… tappity, tap, tap on the unfriend button!
- The Political (or other inflammatory) Ranter – We all know too well that this last election ruined many online friendships. Forcing your opinion down other people’s throats is so election cycle ‘16. Tap. The. Unfriend. Button.
Okay, now we’ve established that there are a variety of reasons why someone may choose to unfriend a person. So, why does it hurt so much? This is where I’ll dive a bit into my personal experience with being unfriended.
Interestingly, the few times I was unfriended on Facebook, I spent a significant amount of time not only researching who unfriended me, but I obsessed as to why I was unfriended. Two things here – you’re probably wondering how in the hell I even know when I’m unfriended, and mostly wondering why in the f**k I would even care. First, I absolutely know how many friends I currently have and when one falls off, the neurotic, analytical mind games begin. Secondly, I begin reflecting and quietly ask myself, “What did I do wrong?”
Here’s the thing, I’m not really an avid poster, I’m an observer – I don’t go on rants, send game requests or engage in the other behaviors listed above (ok, I’ve been the girl at the bar that meets her insta best friend, but that’s no biggie).
But, I’ve been jettisoned by long-time Facebook friends for no real reason (that I’m aware of) and a couple of those have stung. So, when I get unfriended, I try to understand why. As you can tell by now, I’ve reflected on this for a while, and had a few discussions with people I trust and love, and the a-ha moment came with a recent discussion I had with my mom.
As a young girl, I always struggled with my appearance – I was a skinny, red-haired, freckled-face, and ‘skis-for-feet’ awkward girl who wanted nothing more than to fit in. I felt my looks weren’t my strong suit, so I tapped into my inner beauty and used humor as my way to connect with my peers. This approach worked in elementary school. But, throughout junior high and high school, my classmates weren’t always the nicest to me.
I was usually the one in the group that was left out, and would often not be included, and that exclusion always came back to this idea that I wasn’t pretty or good enough.
Essentially, I defined myself by my friendships… bad move (tell your kids). Luckily, I know now that there are a lot of reasons friendships don’t last, it’s not necessarily about me. Plus my boss made me edit in here that I am actually incredibly beautiful inside and out – I’m not that awkward little girl anymore. I’m a confident gal who loves life, BUT I tend to slip into the whole awkward teenage girl role from time to time and think that being unfriended is personal, which is just plain silly.
There is a degree of disconnect that happens for a lot of us online, forgetting that there are real, breathing, thinking, feeling people on the other end of our Internet connections. It’s easy to take comments and unfriending personally, and it’s important to remember to take “friends” on Facebook, and social media in general, with a grain of salt.
Social media is pervasive in our lives, and increasingly – right or wrong – a substitute for real life friendships. Just because Facebook calls that new buddy you met at the bar last night your ‘Friend’ doesn’t actually make them a friend (or someone who cares about your opinions or feelings). Losing them isn’t the end of the world.
The lesson I can share with you is… being unfriended is a simple tap of a button, not a sign of your worth.
Heather received her Bachelor of Science in Communication from Arizona State University in May 2015, and also holds an Associate Degree in Business Management & Marketing. Her degrees are a huge accomplishment, as she pursued her education as a full-time student, while also working full-time and raising two beautiful girls as a single mother.
Today, she provides mentoring and coaching for our creative team, acts as a liaison to clients, and manages projects from assigning milestones through delivery. You can often find her dancing around the office, talking in funny voices, and keeping the office environment lively!