On Monday, I was hanging out with my friend Blair and we were reminiscing about the junior high and high school days – the days when we used to worry about how many Friends we had on Facebook. He talked about how one of his friends was so proud to reach 1,000 friends, and he wasn’t even sure he knew 1,000 people. We laughed and our conversation moved on.
But my mind didn’t. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I still lived that way.
That night I realized that I used my cluttered Facebook feed to focus on other people’s problems. While scrolling normally calmed me down, it began to stress me out. I looked at my nearly 900 social media “friends” and realized that I had barely spoken to 200 of them in years. I was putting off my personal problems to focus on people who may as well have been complete strangers to me now.
If you’re reading this and realizing that you’ve started to live this way, STOP IT. People have enough stress in their lives that they shouldn’t have to worry about adopting strangers’ problems.
That’s not to say that I don’t care about these old friends – because I do. I love investing in other people’s lives, but sometimes focusing on people that you aren’t in contact with anymore distracts you from today’s important friends.
Unfriending people can be a painful process. For me, unfriending started out like this:
There were a few tears shed. I unfriended my summer camp best friend that I spent an entire week with in 2009. I unfriended my friend who passed away my senior year of high school. I unfriended my partner from a sophomore leadership conference who shared her life story with me.
It was hard, but I knew that I would probably never talk to those again. Their feeds were just another distraction.
Once I scrolled further down my list, I realized that I had friended people I didn’t even talk to or know. I unfriended my high school friend’s ex-boyfriend, my cousin’s cousin, my childhood neighbor. Pretty soon my night turned into this (minus the alcohol):
It was refreshing and therapeutic. I advise digging through your social media friend lists, recalling the good ole days, and unfriending a few strangers on your feed.
Interested on more of this topic? Check out these links on the art of unfriending: Facebook and Twitter: the art of unfriending or unfollowing people (The Guardian), How to Unfriend on Facebook Without Offending (Techlicious), Digital Life: How to ‘Unfriend’ with No Hurt Feelings (USA Today), 7 Types Of People You Should Unfriend On Facebook ASAP (Huffington Post), Why we Unfriend (The Atlantic).