I’ve been tossing something in my brain for awhile – something that seems very unique to me – and therefore has required a lot of my contemplation and twitter polling. (Problem Solving 101: Twitter Polling.) The issue at hand is the way many (“many” = “everyone but me”) handle disagreeable people on Facebook…by unfollowing. Whereas I have never unfollowed anyone, but have unfriended 2 people.
I need to start with a giant disclaimer that I really hope you’ll keep in mind as you read this. I use Facebook very differently from everyone I know. I use it very equally: Personal/Political/Entertainment. I post pictures and status about my kids as much as I post thought-provoking articles about Black Lives Matter as much as I share out news about my favorite TV shows. I do it all. So, I know that the way I handle Facebook and approach it is very different from most people, and I know that a lot of how I look at it is therefore…going to be different.
I also keep Facebook to real world friends. I don’t send out friend requests (because I’m really active on Facebook and I want someone to come into that relationship willingly) and I only accept them from people I know. I like it as an extension of my real-life friendships or relationships. Some people simply use it as a communication tool and so send friend requests to everyone they meet even once, but I don’t do that. If we’re friends on Facebook? I consider us friends in real life. If we’re friends on Facebook? I’d share a meal with you. And not everyone treats their Facebook list like that.
BUT! Here’s what I’ve been thinking. I’ve been unfriended TONS. Seriously. And I still see some of those people out in the real world and it doesn’t faze me at all. I’m nice and cordial even though I know they unfriended me. But I have no idea if people have unfollowed me. And the more I think about it, the more I really feel that if you are going to unfollow me? I’d rather you unfriend me instead.
CAVEAT: This is just about People Who Unfollow Me. Not about People Who Unfollow Other People. I’m not saying we should ALL unfriend instead of unfollow. I’m just saying FOR ME, I’d rather people unfriend me than unfollow me.
Why I Don’t Unfollow People
First and foremost? I’m terrified they’ll find out. And I don’t want to hurt their feelings. If I didn’t care about their feelings at all? I’d just unfriend them. But the idea of unfollowing someone – and then them finding out – really stresses me out. Even just thinking about it stresses me out.
Secondly? I like the other stuff they post. Maybe they post a lot of political or religious stuff I don’t agree with or like, but maybe they also share photos of other people in their family or their adventures and I can take the chaff with the grain of our relationship and just toss away the chaff for the sake of the grain. I can skim past annoying political/religions stuff to get to the other stuff no problem.
Thirdly? I use Facebook’s “block this…” type of options successfully. I’ve blocked all game notifications and requests and I’ve clicked the “I don’t want to see posts from this source” option on several hard-core right-wing conservative sources. Nothing major, I don’t block like…Fox News, but if it’s something titled “Conservative Tea Partiers Who Want To See Obama’s Birth Certificate” then I’m blocking it as a source.
Why I Unfriend
I don’t ever send out friend requests unless A) by accident (done that before from the “people you may know” page on my FB app which looks a lot like the friend requests section) or B) by necessity due to a need to communicate with that person. And if it’s the second reason, I only do it if I really feel like I want to be FB friends with them, meaning I really need to know them in some capacity. So, if we’re FB friends, I probably consider us real friends to some capacity.
So, if you post something that I find truly disagreeable and can’t move past it to the family pictures or adventures then I ask myself: Am I close enough to this person that unfriending them will cause any problems in future interactions? Twice the answer was: NO. So, twice I’ve unfriended people and both times it was for vulgar (VERY VULGAR) and offensive posts about gay men.
Here’s the ultimate question: What if someone I couldn’t unfriend (because it would affect our future interactions) said the exact same vulgar/offensive thing? I don’t know. I’d like to think I would calmly address it. I’ve calmly addressed not-quite-as-offensive statuses before, and I think I do it well, but I don’t know if I could calmly address something as offensive as the things that made me click “unfriend” before. But I’d like to think that the reason that hasn’t happened is because I don’t send/accept Facebook requests from people I don’t know in the real world enough where I could greet them as friends if I saw them in public.
Why I Wish People Would Just Unfriend Me
But what got me really thinking about this was seeing someone who doesn’t agree with me politically (I know because of all of their political posts) responding to another friend that they unfollow people all the time, specifically people who post stuff they don’t agree with. And it hit me: WAIT. Have people unfollowed me? To which my husband said: MOST DEFINITELY. (Thanks, hon.)
And that got me really thinking about it here’s why I wish they would just unfriend me.
- If you can’t suck it up and scroll past my respectfully written and never inflammatory political posts, then you shouldn’t be able to see pictures of how my kids did at the race this weekend. Or if my Harry Potter posts annoy you so much you just had to unfollow me, then I don’t want you to be able to click on my page to check out the First Day of School photos. I just feel like if I’m accepting everyone else’s chaff and grain then they should accept mine.
- I don’t like suddenly wondering if I’m the schmuck who doesn’t realize the class is making fun of her behind her back. Because I “like” or comment on stuff on Facebook all the time. What if you posted a selfie from your hike with your family and I clicked “like” but truthfully, you haven’t seen anything I’ve done lately because you’ve unfollowed me. So, here I am interacting with your life and you’ve blinded yourself to mine. I feel like a total asshat if that’s the case.
- If you don’t see my posts about my status as an atheist then you’re more likely to not think of me when you post memes that say that a lack of “God” is what is wrong with the world. So you’ll post that stuff, it will hurt my feelings, and I’ll wonder I’m pretty open about not believing in God, do they just not care to hurt my feelings or do they honestly think people like me are what’s wrong with the world?
And that’s the crux of it – honestly. Now that I’m realizing people might have unfollowed me because of my postings, I really would rather them unfriend me instead. Because then they won’t see the personal stuff (because I really feel like that’s for friends…and if you can’t handle some part of who I am, then we’re not friends) and then I won’t “like” their stuff (because I think we’re friends), and then they won’t post stuff that hurts my feelings because they’ve never seen me post about being an atheist, or a liberal. And if they don’t CARE if they hurt my feelings then why didn’t they just unfriend me to begin with? I am not inflammatory in any of my political postings. If I was, that would be different. So if someone doesn’t like my political stuff so much they can’t scroll past it in their newsfeed, then they’re not even open to respectful commentary from the other side. And I feel like if I can handle respectful commentary (because I see it often) then they should too. And if they can’t handle my respectful commentary, then I wouldn’t consider us even casual friends so should just unfriend me.
Because I really do look at Facebook as a connection to my friends. I know not everyone does, but for ME…it’s an extension of the arm of friendship. I don’t send out friend requests to people I don’t know and I don’t accept them either. So, since I use it that way, I only want to be friends with…well…friends. And if you can’t scroll past the posts you find annoying, then you shouldn’t get to see the posts about my kids struggles at school. I see anti-democrat anti-liberal anti-Obama pro-Christian pro-Life pro-Gun stuff EVERY DAY from my friends on Facebook. None of it is outright offensive, so I’m able to just scroll past it for the sake of the relationships. So, if someone can’t do that with my postings? I’d rather not be FB friends with them because the personal stuff I post is – to me – just for friends.
Because if you unfollowed me because of my political postings? That means you didn’t see that my kids were in the ER last month. And that really upsets me, that my benign and respectful political posts were so annoying to you that you unfollowed me and therefore missed something major in my life. I mean, seriously. That sucks. Just unfriend me. Then at least I know where I stand. This person finds this part of my online personality really annoying and that’s fine. I’ve been unfriended by tons of people and I’m honestly okay with it. At least I’m not making an ass out of myself and interacting with their Facebook posts when they have chosen not to see any of mine.
If I can scroll past bible verses and pro-Trump memes to maintain relationships – even though I’m an atheist who kinda hates Trump – then someone should be able to scroll past my non-inflammatory, respectful LGBTQ postings. And if they can’t, then – as long as I look at my Facebook friends as real friends – we shouldn’t be friends.