I love Facebook. I truly do. And I feel like I use Facebook for good much more than for evil. I update my friends and family on our lives, I share things that interest me, I build community, I interact with friends. I truly do think that Facebook improves my life and my relationships.
Therefore, I take Facebook very seriously.
I’ve noticed a few comments lately in conversations with friends and family about how different people use Facebook and I made a huge discovery. Not everyone Facebooks (Facebook is a verb too!) the way I do. As a matter of fact, some people are offended by the way I Facebook. This made me dig even more because you all know – there is nothing I hate more than hurting someone’s feelings – especially unintentionally. So commenced a day of Learning How Others Use Facebook.
It seems like there are two general camps people fall into, with some waivering in an in-between area. The Hiders and The Unfrienders.
The Hiders simply take any FB friend who posts anything annoying and hides them from their feed. This may be Candy Crush Saga updates or it may be political rants. Either way? If it irritates the user? They simply hide them. These people tend to get offended if someone unfriends them, they tend to think: Why didn’t they just hide me? That hurts my feelings!
The Unfrienders tolerate the casual annoyances – maybe things like gaming updates or mild political links – but if someone steps over a user-defined line? They’ll be unfriended. Not hidden…UNFRIENDED. These people don’t really keep up with unfriendings, but if they notice someone has unfriended them, they don’t get offended. Because they’ve done it too.
Because I’m a sensitive person who gets my feelings hurt easily and who worries about hurting the feelings of others, you would totally think I’m a Hider. BUT I AM NOT. And until yesterday, I didn’t realize there were people who looked at it differently. I have never hidden anyone. NEVER! If I can’t tolerate their postings for reasons I discuss later, then I unfriend them. And it’s not like just unfriend everyone different from me. I tolerate a lot of postings on Facebook that I don’t agree with. I don’t ever respond, I usually just chalk it up to this person’s difference of opinion. There are times when postings can get a bit harsh and I think about unfriending someone, but I save it as a last resort.
When Facebook went from being a “blogger” thing to being a “real” world thing I cleaned out my FB friends and deleted anyone I didn’t know in the real world. (Or at least know REALLY WELL in the blogger world.) This was because if someone tags me in a photo that they’re in, I want to be confident that I know all of the people in my friend list who might look at that photo. Since then, I only send out friend requests on rare occasions and I only accept them if I know them. From that point on, it was a “Real World Friends Only” type of network.
Once I did accept a friend request once from someone I didn’t know, but who had a lot of common friends. But then I unfriended them immediately when they posted something really derogatory about the LGBTQ community. I didn’t even know that person, why would I continue any sort of connection with someone who posts something derogatory about my friends and family? I didn’t even flinch before clicking “unfriend” because I didn’t really know them anyway.
But since then – I’ve only unfriended two people. One who posted something really offensive about gay sex (between two MEN of course, because sex between two WOMEN is okay to this type of person) and one who compared liberals to Nazis.
Now…when I see either of those people in public? I go out of my way to be nice. No hard feelings! My thought is that my Facebook page is where I want to connect with people that make me happy. And if you think I’m a Nazi, or if you think the relationship my gay family has with their spouse is disgusting, then I don’t want to share my life with you. I don’t mind being nice to you in the real world at all, but I don’t want you privy to the things I share on Facebook.
And until yesterday? I didn’t think much about this. But it turns out The Hiders? Don’t like it. They think it’s cruel and hurts people’s feelings and think that you should just hide someone to avoid that.
And it’s funny because I’m all about spreading joy and not spreading negativity. So, to find out that something I do really upsets people? Is shocking.
Now – if either of those people confronted me? I could tell them exactly what it was – and no hard feelings – I just don’t want to share the intimate details of my life to someone who judges me or my family so harshly.
The other thing is this – someone who posts those things publicly on Facebook? That’s their public stance. And I do not want to be listed in their “Friends” list if they’re publicly declaring a disgust for gay people or comparing me and my liberal leanings to Nazis.
If I just “hide” them – then I continue to be listed as their friend. And then I have NO IDEA what they’re posting. What if the day after I hide them they post something talking about how a Transgender Male or a Transgender Female is a disgusting abomination. Or if they post that gay teens SHOULD kill themselves! I mean – we’ve all seen those type of views – if I hide someone, what if they post something extremely awful and there is my name: Kim Zoot Holmes listed as their friend?
No. I choose to keep an eye on them. And I do NOT unfriend people just because they think differently from me. I just pulled up my Facebook feed and 4 of the first 10 posts were either anti-Obama or anti-Liberal. But they were RESPECTFUL. I don’t agree with those posts at all, but they weren’t OFFENSIVE. So, my feed is still an assortment of beliefs and view points.
I take Facebook very seriously. Most of the people out there are my real-world family and friends. I think very carefully before I post anything political. I make sure I can stand by it, I make sure I’ve fact-checked it, and I make sure it’s not offensive JUST to be offensive. As much as I love some of my liberal friends, they can be just as blind to their disrespectful tones as some of the offensive conservatives. We don’t foster good discourse if we post inflammatory links and commentary just because they’re inflammatory.
But – I’m not going to ignore things that are inflammatory or disrespectful. I’m not going to hide them and just let those people continue being privy to my life and my postings.
And here’s the thing? DO NOT HIDE ME. If you don’t like what I’m posting? Please! Unfriend me! I promise you, Kim – the most sensitive girl in the world – will actually not mind. We are adults. The great thing about not being in school anymore is we get to choose who we interact with. If my postings offend you? Then please! Unfriend me! That’s part of being a grown-up. And when I see you at a group run – or at PTA meeting – or a field trip – I will still smile and ask you how your life is. Did you like that race? Are your kids playing ball in the Spring? Where did you get that bag it’s TOTES ADORBS. I’ve been unfriended dozens of times, and actually I tend to assume it has more to do with my compulsive running talk than with anything else. AND THAT IS OKAY! I want you to enjoy Facebook as much as I do, and if that means unfriending me? So be it.
To be honest? I probably won’t even notice you’ve unfriended me. Just like I don’t keep up with Twitter followers or blog stats.
But that’s why I’m The Unfriender.
And I totally get why you’d be The Hider. I do. It avoids conflict and you don’t have to suffer through posts that make your blood boil.
But just know…if it’s me you’re hiding? I’d rather you unfriend me. Seriously. We need to be okay with that. We need to be okay with everyone making their Facebook space safe and inviting. I’m honestly paranoid now, is someone hiding me? If they are – can I find out and just ask them to unfriend me?
I saw someone say that “Unfriending someone” makes Facebook like Junior High. And I think just the opposite. Unfriending someone is keeping Facebook from being like Junior High. In Junior High your stuck seeing people you don’t want to hang out with EVERY SINGLE DAY. But on Facebook? You can choose. And that should be okay. If someone unfriends me that is THEIR business and I will not hold it against them in the slightest.
What about you? Are you Hider? Or an Unfriender? Do you get offended if people unfriend you?