Social media – particularly Facebook, I find – offers a unique window into the lives, feelings, and opinions of others. While everything one sees is (of course) based on how much each person chooses to share AND how openly accessible they’ve made their posts, I find that in most cases I am able to learn a whole lot more (and more quickly) about someone through their Facebook activity – status updates, “Likes” and shares, groups joined, and so on – than I would if I had to wait for the opportunity to sit down and chat with them in person.
The vast majority of the time I delight in (and am grateful for) this amazing phenomenon. How truly, amazingly wonderful it is to be able to eliminate the barriers of distance and schedules that so often prevent us from knowing others!
But this openness and accessibility can also be an awful thing, on those occasions when the curtains part to give you a glimpse of something questionable – an opinion, a viewpoint, a stand – something you would rather not have seen or known about someone… because now, suddenly, you’re faced with making a decision.
Is it time to unfriend?
I will admit that at times I struggle with this aspect of social media. On the one hand, I don’t ever want to find myself in the position of being surrounded only by people who share my particular views. I recognize and respect that we all have different backgrounds, different beliefs, different ways of looking at life – and believe that not only do those differences make life interesting, but also that we can learn from each other.
But on the other hand, life is far too short to give time, attention, and space to hatred, bigotry, and willful ignorance.
Sometimes the answer to the question of whether or when to unfriend is blatantly clear, but more often than not I find the decision complicated by a number of factors: the length of a friendship or family relationship, the implications of unfriending on shared connections, consideration of my own bias, and so on.
So how do YOU do it?
How do you decide when it’s time to unfriend?