How I discovered social media can hurt finished friendships by @JennyRaRaRaw

(Cross-posted from Ramblings of a Zen Kitten)

We’ve all been there in primary school when someone has said ‘I’m not your friend anymore!’ to us, and it’s simply seemed like the end of the world. Part of growing up, I’ve sadly come to realise, is losing people. We drift apart, we grow up, we lose contact – it happens.

Of course, some friends you make you will make for life and these are worth holding on to at any cost and treasured. (Someone came to your mind just now, right? Text them, call them, tweet them right now and tell them you love them). But these will be few and far between, which is exactly what makes them so special.However, I seem to be one of a small minority who feels like this loss, although a potential for temporary heartbreak, is healthy. (Not to say that I relish losing my friends, that would be very unhealthy). What I’m saying is, it is a fact of life that some of the people you grow up with will not be the ones you share your bingo days, your 50thwedding anniversary, your 30thbirthday or even your graduation with.

For the friends who just drift to the side-lines of our lives, having their occasional presence on our social media platforms isn’t so much of a big deal. It may even occur to you to like their engagement selfie as a whimsical expression of goodwill, for old time’s sake. But what about the ones who have hurt us, with whom we have had a granddaddy type fall out that even the protagonists of ‘Mean Girls’ would be jealous of? It’s hard to tiptoe around something like that on social media.

Before I continue, I feel it important to say that I am not a confrontational or antagonistic person, but a very anxious one. Having myself been isolated from a group of friends a few years back, I found it very difficult watching their updates on Facebook. Without any physical presence in my real life, they were still haunting me every time I checked my phone. Any tweets with a sly dig involved, I would instantly head spin into a panic. Is it about me? Is she referring to that embarrassing thing that happened to me a few months ago? She wouldn’t make a status about it, would she? WOULD SHE?!?!

All this unnecessary worrying got me thinking. What happened in the days before social media, before we were all continually updated about every single thing happening in each other’s lives? Scary as it is to consider, I think we all just let go. When a friendship comes to a natural end, it is just that – the end. It is supposed to hurt a bit and it is supposed to teach you a lesson. It is a time for self-reflection – for deciding what you would do differently in your next friendships, and to promise yourself what type of friendship you deserve (i.e. the answer for you, my friend, is the very best. Never settle for anything less).

Taking a very big deep breath, I began to “unfriend” people from Facebook. Undoubtedly an already much referred to point, but not everyone on my Facebook is my “friend”. I didn’t want the process to be a flip off to those I had shared some of my best memories with, a reincarnation of the primary school “I’m not your friend anymore”. What it was, and what it needed to be, was a personal refresh. A new start, to prevent my already anxious flames being fanned unnecessarily by unexpected pop-ups in my News Feed. Perhaps what I couldn’t see wouldn’t hurt me, after all. One by one, as these people disappeared, I felt a weight lifting off my shoulders.

For some, I even went so far as to block, to prevent any future contact. It was important to me to have a real sense of closure. It also prevented me from looking at those whose profiles had ‘public’ settings. Deleting them seemed to be only half the battle if I could still tempt myself into looking at their statuses and tagged photos, only to be inevitably saddened by what I saw and angry at myself for peeking.

It isn’t immature and it isn’t selfish. What it is is self-preservation. People existed and conducted their relationships in a perfectly healthy manner before social media became a craze, and they will continue to do so long after the hype has died down. Why continue to let yourself be upset by something on social media because society is telling us it’s the thing to do?

I am not telling you to maliciously remove people from your life or to create unnecessary conflict. There is enough hate in the world without adding more. But what I am asking of you is to consider yourself first, without allowing yourself to be led to believe it’s selfish. Remember the age-old saying by author unknown; “not everyone you lose is a loss”. If you don’t want to see the updates of your old friends, then don’t. It’s that simple. Let them go. You’ll feel much better for it – I promise.

 

Ramblings of a Zen Kitten: I am a feminist and have been for some years, even more so after doing a gender studies module at university. My blog often contains feminist comments upon books I have read as well as current events happening in the world. I also write articles about beauty products, and the occasional poem. My Twitter handle is @JennyRaRaRaw.

 

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