the talons of social media

let’s take a journey back to the early 2000’s….the birth of friendster, myspace, facebook and twitter.  I was just old enough to want to express myself, but still too young to enter into a world where people’s attention defined me.  of course, I couldn’t possibly see the lurking danger behind this pretty page where I could pick a photo of myself, a fun backdrop, and eventually even put my “thoughts” to music!  it was a new thing where all of a sudden we felt “seen”….which is what most of us hope for – to be noticed, seen, appreciated.  with the introduction of social media, I believe a huge piece of humanity died, and in the place of that death, over time, a new sense of self was born…a confused beast that struggles to tend to its roots.

as I have posted before, social media is really great.  I blogged about why I left Facebook back in 2014 – with all the perks to it, 4 years later, I truly do not miss it at all.  I still have an instagram site, and they are TRULY difficult to give up.  we all have our reasons to keep them:  stay in touch with family; look at photos of nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc.; networking for personal businesses; finding great deals on instashops and varage sale (which I still think is bogus that you can only use if you have facebook….lame), and then the sites like @natgeo or @historyphotographed that show great photos and educate.  the list goes on.  as with facebook, i love the perks, but i’ll be very transparent about my recent beef with all of it – I can’t let a friendship die naturally.  now, if a friendship is over in life, there is a level of confrontation that goes along with the exit.

when we were younger, if you had an unhealthy friendship, or a one-sided friendship, or just a friendship that was no longer relevant to your current world, you just stopped calling or seeing that person.  eventually things fizzled properly and that was that.  it didn’t mean you didn’t like the person, or wouldn’t willingly give a hug the next time you ran into one another at a party or a music venue…it’s not that you didn’t want to ever speak to that person again, like a major falling out.  it was simply that your lives had moved in different directions for a multitude of reasons and either one or both chose to move on from one another.

but now…oh the DRAMA of it all!  I have (had?) a few friends that I spent time with in my 20’s.  we went to shows, went to bars, had dinner at one another’s houses, grabbed lunch or grilled out on the weekends.  we shared failures, successes, fears, hopes, etc.  we were a part of one another’s lives during a period of time.  but things have changed….we all got married, had kids, fell into our own groove…priorities shifted and what was important to us changed.  to be honest, I tried to keep the friendships afloat for awhile, but it was a one-sided street for the most part.  I don’t make friends quickly (call me introverted, I suppose) so the deterioration of these relationships hurt…it hurt so much that when I would see them post on instagram, it just reminded me of that rejection.  and to be quite honest, when i saw them “liking” one another’s posts but not liking mine, it only made it worse.  it felt intentional.  that’s just the nature of social media—we can see everything that everyone is doing, thinking, etc.  I truly, TRULY hate that i paid any attention at all to who was liking what.  but instagram has a schematic that shows first mutual friends who like a post…so it was in my face without me trying at all.  i could just stop following them, and i did…but somehow that didn’t feel like enough.  i felt sad that they had dropped me without any true explanation…i just became unimportant in their lives.  it wasn’t a mutual “fizzle”.  and it’s ok that i did.  we are not OBLIGATED to keep the friends of our past.  but social media makes this so much harder to move on from.  because now, it can’t be an “i saw jane doe at the store and it was great to see her…we caught up and asked about one another’s lives then said our goodbyes”.  the choice i made to not only unfollow these people on instagram, but also to remove their follow is aggressive.  it’s like having a confrontation with them and saying, “i don’t want you in my life anymore”.  which is true and not true.  i don’t hate them, i would be happy to run into them and catch up, but i just don’t want to share my day-to-day with them anymore, especially when the efforts aren’t mutual.  but i fear that because of the entitlement of social media, and how major it has become to remove someone from your account, this is more like driving a stake through the heart, and if we do run into one another in the future, we may all look the other way.

i once spoke to someone about my husband making a choice to stop following whoever on facebook and to remove them as a “friend”.  this person told me that it “seems like he just doesn’t want to have anything to do with those people”.  my response was, that may be true.  then they called him “petty”……let’s put this into perspective.  the people he had “defriended” don’t call, we don’t all hang out, they don’t email him, or text him, or ask him how he is.  there is ZERO real life connection between these two people.  and he is now being called “petty” for removing them from his life.  how… how how does this make sense?  but that’s what the world of social media has done – we now MUST keep these friendships because we KNOW a person, not because they are actually friends.  these are not true friendships.  at church this weekend, my pastor said, “love shows up….a way we see love from our friends and family is that they show up”.  well, when people are only watching your life unfold, that’s not showing up.  and i don’t feel like we should have to continue to open our world to those people.

normally when i post, i try to be more eloquent.  but today is just raw.  it likely sounds whiney and like one of those people going on and on about how unfair someone was to them.  but that’s just how raw emotions are…they aren’t polished to make me seem smarter or more collected…they are emotional.  i’m not blaming these people in full-i’ve changed too, and, again, it’s ok to want to move on. i guess i felt like they had already moved on, but wouldn’t do it 100%…like the boy who you know doesn’t want to be with you but just won’t pull the breakup trigger and instead, makes you do it when that’s not what you wanted in the first place.

maybe you get something from this…maybe you are in a similar spot and will feel liberated.  i blogged about this on the recommendation of a friend.  we suspect the world is full of other people struggling to remove people or things from their life because they don’t want to “confront” or “offend”.

we need to recreate our boundaries.  and if the friends i am speaking of ever read this, it’s not about “not wanting anything to do with you”, it’s about believing relationships are a two-way street, and if you want one, it shouldn’t only be by flipping down a line of photos on a screen.


2 thoughts on “the talons of social media

  1. so good. I was surprised to see the notification, but always enjoyed reading. I never gave up social media but have “unfollowed” more people than I anticipated. I haven’t been big on maintaining a relationship that was built from live social interaction through the social platforms that were created to bring people “closer.” I get mad when I can’t have a phone conversation and people relying on texting, which can be vague and need more explanation. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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