On Mental Health

The New Facebook.

Several weeks ago several of you gave me the advice to quit Facebook for awhile as I’ve been so burdened by anxiety of politics and news. And I really couldn’t quit Facebook because, for the socially anxious, it’s a tool that helps us connect without necessarily doing the exhausting part of planning, showering, and leaving the house.

BUT. I did completely change my Facebook experience, thanks to you guys.

First: I quit checking in with people I had unfollowed

Sometimes I unfollow people because they often post political things I disagree with but I have learned there is NO MIDDLE GROUND TO TALK ON. Or if it’s someone I’ve shared corrective information (like from Snopes or something similar) and they never acknowledge it or take down the original post. The people that I’m DRAWN to engage with for some reason but I know it’s not going to do anything BUT MAKE ME SUPER ANXIOUS OR ANGRY OR UPSET. I’ve unfollowed them for VERY GOOD REASONS and yet…YET…if there’s a big political story I know they’re talking about, I HAVE TO GO CHECK. And this NEVER went well and I have no idea WHY I kept doing it but you know what? I haven’t done that in WEEKS or even MONTHS.


You’d think it would be easy to let go of someone whose views make your blood boil BUT IT IS NOT. Especially this week with the shutdown I wanted to hunt them all down and see what they were saying. BUT I DID NOT! And it made my week much more livable

Second: I reduced my feed to people I’d reach out to if they were hurting, or people who share things that make me a better human.

I have joined a lot of groups in this town and have met a lot of people who I’ve become Facebook friends with over the last 9 years. All of those people are in my Facebook feed every time I log in. And most of them are perfectly lovely and it’s fine, BUT, I started noticing (because of FB’s stupid algorithm) that I would miss an important update from a CLOSE friend or family member, the kind of thing I really want/need to know to maintain my friendships/relationships.

SO! I have just unfollowed everyone who A) I wouldn’t bring dinner (not that I made myself, of course) or send a card or a text if they were hurting; or B) anyone who doesn’t – in some way – make me a better person. Maybe someday I’ll widen that scope, but for now, I need to fill my available energy spaces with the hearts and souls that raise me up and not the 500 casual acquaintances I’ve made over the last 9 years. This may sound harsh but it has made Facebook so much better because it really is simply me checking in on my close friends/family.

The funny thing is, I know it’s working and healthy because sometimes someone will sneak through the cracks who doesn’t post a lot and their post might be mildly political and a little upsetting and past me would have just let it slide because they were someone I ran into every once in awhile and it’s nice to know what’s going on in their life and that post wasn’t racist or anything so…they stay.

But now? I think, This person does not make me better or raise me up in anyway and I quickly click: UNFOLLOW.

The other way I know it’s working is that I’m seeing more posts from family and close friends that I’ve ever seen before because my feed is uncluttered by random people I’ve met who I wouldn’t recognize them if they stopped me in public.

I mean, in a perfect world I would have time to check in with EVERYONE but to do that I’d have to surf Facebook 100 times a day. So now I don’t miss the picture of the rock my talented Aunt painted or the update from my cousin or the fantastic article about racism from one of my political friends. Everything on my feed now is an update from someone who I care about enough to check in on if they were sick with a card or a text or a FB message…or posts from people who I follow for articles and information that will make me better.

So, thank you for helping me make Facebook less terrible for me.

7 thoughts on “The New Facebook.”

  1. Over the course of the last year I unfriended probably 100 people. There were those that I missed and refriended . There is another trick. After I added some back, I found that they weren’t showing up, so I had to go in and add them as close friends, then they did.My purge involved mostly people that I didnt see regularly and wouldn’t as you say, take t hem food. Thanks for the post. I believe it will help others.

  2. I’m going to go do this today. Brilliant. Another bonus, hopefully, is it will help with some compulsive feed-checking issues.

  3. Good for you! My criteria is “would you offer me a kidney if I needed one”. Pretty harsh criteria, admittedly, but for someone who has difficultly “reading” people (for lack of a better term) it works for me. I figure only those who truly love me would offer that. 🙂

  4. I would add that I have discovered the ability to hide the source of shared frustrating, almost-always-fake posts.

    My dad is a Trump supporter. I don’t really know how it happened because he’s a normal reasonable person who supports the idea of women and people of color as equals without a drop of irony. In his work and personal life he has a diverse group of friends. I have had hours long rage filled discussions with him (largely during the election season) where I had trouble even finding the root of his bizarre claim at the moment. I would eventually discover that he was living on exclusively false, inflammatory “news” sites like breitbutt (intentional misspelling). I reached a point of insanity where I had to do something to stop being sucked into it. I didn’t want to un follow him entirely because he posts important updates there as well. I learned that when a post shared from xyz site gets shared on my feed, I can click the top right of the post and choose “hide all from xyz site” instead.

    Combined with your step of unfollowing the people who just aren’t here to help me better myself I have found fb much more peaceful and less anxiety causing.

  5. I quit on Monday. I’d had it with the news of the Government shutdown, the spewing of blame … just everything. I’ll go back, probably this weekend, because there are people I care about and want to keep tabs on. But I *love* your solutions and am going to have to take them to heart. I’ve got to change something about Facebook … not checking it so often is a good start. Being more mindful of who I follow, why, what I react to, etc. will also help.

  6. Oh, man. I really REALLY feel your pain. I don’t know how much you know about Huntsville but it’s like 50% government contract workers. I’m 100% certain that I hid a LOT of blame throwing.

  7. Yup, good old Rocket City! Couple the contracting rates with the “local news is politics” here in DC … and it can get to be way too much.

    Thankfully the shutdown is over. Now I need to work on my tuning out politics. 😀

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