“Why did you delete me from Facebook?”
It’s been three years since I performed a mass cleanout of my Facebook friends. I culled the people I no longer wanted on my friend list. I was already spring cleaning my life when the cyber cleansing occurred.
The process was therapeutic; I was no longer hoarding friends.
For three years I hadn’t thought about the people I hit delete on. That was until an old friend contacted me. Through Facebook. The irony.
When I saw his name pop up on my screen, I felt a pit of guilt form in my stomach. If there was going to be anyone to call me out on my mass deleting, it would be him.
And he did.
Once asked why I deleted him from Facebook, I pondered what I could say to appease him. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, nor act as if I didn’t like him anymore. My decision to cull these people wasn’t as simple as ‘liking’ versus not.
I knew the truth would be the only thing to justify my behaviour. Even though I’m not sure I needed to justify myself. It’s only Facebook, right?!
We Don’t Speak In ‘Real’ Life
I don’t believe in holding onto friends online that I don’t speak to in actual life. Who I don’t see face to face, over the phone, or through non-social media communication.
This friend I deleted — we don’t have a relationship in the physical world. We didn’t have a phone call history in the last ten years, nor a single text message exchange either. If we walked past each other on the street, I wonder if we would stop and chat.
Or if we even remembered what each other looked like. Without the filtered images and the photo-shop removal of the silver hairs, do we even know what real life looks like?
We don’t mix in the same circles, either. There isn’t a danger of running into him at a party or even working at the same office. Our lives have separated, and this isn’t a bad thing. It’s what happens in life.
We Don’t Speak Online
I would have considered keeping this friend on Facebook if we had an online friendship. But alas, we didn’t.
There are a few people in my life I speak to more online than in actual life. That’s what I love about Facebook; it bridges the gap in physical distance. For friends who have moved overseas, I can maintain a relationship with them easily.
But there wasn’t anything between my friend and me online. No commenting on pictures, no private messages, no well wishes exchanged on our birthdays. We had everything at our fingertips to stay in contact online, and we didn’t.
I can hardly call them a friend if we do nothing that constitutes a friendship.
Without friendship-behaviour, virtual or otherwise, I was struggling to see why I should hold onto him. And then it dawned on me.
Would he notice if I deleted him?
I Didn’t Think You Would Notice
This friend took five years to notice I’d vanished from his Facebook list.
I’m not sure I want to keep people in my life who don’t notice or think about me for five years. Friends who don’t care what I’m up to, and where I am in my life for the best part of a decade.
I guess you could say I didn’t care about what he was up to either. The friendship street is two ways, and if I didn’t notice my departure, and I wasn’t missing him, that too should be a sign I did the right thing.
Did I Do The Right Thing?
When this former friend of mine questioned my actions, I panicked. I couldn’t help question whether I did the right thing all those years ago. I struggled with the idea I had been too harsh in my mass deletion.
Deleting people from your friends on Facebook shouldn’t be a scary endeavor. It’s your social media account, it’s your rules.
But this process comes with a reality check. This is what I learned the hard way:
When deleting friends from social media, you’re deleting them from your life
It’s a public declaration of your lack of friendship. Once upon a time ago, you could delete someone from your phone and they wouldn’t know about it. Now, everyone knows everything you do, and it’s impossible to cleanse without someone realizing it.
Sometimes I’m frustrated that we even need to deal with this element of relationships. It’s hard enough finding the time to have a relationship in actual life, let alone justify how we behave online.
I’ve stopped treating my cyber relationships differently to my in-person relationships. I’ve stopped pretending they’re different, and that we should treat them with kid gloves. I’ve woken up to the idea that my values of relationships don’t differ depending on how they’re conducted. Online, on the phone, in-person, they’re all the same.
I suppose I’ll leave a blanket apology to every former friend right here: I’m sorry if you’re unhappy I deleted you off Facebook. But if we were actually friends, not cyber friends, I might feel some remorse.
Because deleting you was the right thing. It’s because it’s what made me happy.
This article was originally published via PS I Love You. Relationships Now.