Are you struggling with who to unfollow on social media? Check out our tips for unfriending etiquette.

Friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, friend me on Snapchat, follow me on Instagram

These are all such common phrases in today’s world, giving a new understanding of the questions “want to be friends?” or “should we hang out?”. The connections and relationships forged and cultivated on social media can be very rewarding. But what do we do when they’re not so enjoyable?

When and why do we unfriend or unfollow someone on social media? 

You may also want to read How to Detox From Your Social Media Addiction.

 

When is it time to Unfriend a "Friend"?

The internet has become a means to grow friendships but it also opens up the user to a level of public vulnerability they may not have been anticipating. We become “friends” with a variety of people, some actual real life friends, some professional colleagues, some friends of friends and still others, people we have never met before, and may never meet! 

But what happens when a friend of a friend posts something you find offensive or insulting? What if that “friend” attacks you on social media for your political views? What if someone who is following you on Instagram becomes overly concerned with your whereabouts and your interests? 

Some common reasons for unfriending include:

  • When someone else’s drama is taking up too much space in my head
  • When someone posts something offensive
  • When safety is a concern
  • When I don’t know the person
  • When someone isn’t a positive influence

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association.

If we examined our friend list by way of this definition of friendship, who would remain? Is online friendship something different than “real life” friendship? Just as in real life, some friendships have a lifespan, there are times when unfriending someone or unfollowing someone is justifiable and in fact, healthier for you. Toxic relationships can occur in a variety of settings, including online.

Consider these tips on streamlining friend lists:

1. Is there a safety concern?

  • First and foremost, if you’re concerned for your physical or emotional safety because of someone on your friend list, do not hesitate! Go right to unfriend or unfollow!  
  • This safety concern may not be obvious at first. For example, if a friend continues to engage in offensive posts, you could have an adverse response to this individual. Your emotional safety needs to be protected as well as your physical safety.

2. How well do you know this friend?

  • In evaluating any friendship - online or in person - we evaluate the value of the friendship. What does this person offer to your life and is the value reciprocal?
  • If you find yourself questioning who this friend is or what value they offer to your life, this could be an opportunity to unfriend.

A common phrase we’ve all heard is “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Now, that has seemed to be replaced with “if you wouldn’t say it to the person’s face, don’t say it online”. 

There is a perceived anonymity with online behavior. This is also an important factor to consider when sorting through your friend list. Think about who is going to see your posts.

An online presence is so very common in today’s world and it can help to cultivate and nurture relationships. We now have access to people and information that we never had before. With that exposure also comes some potential risks. Like anything, though, it is important to consider your unique circumstances in your online social life.

Your online friend list should be similar to your real life friend list. 

The kind of qualities that make a good friend include an individual who is trustworthy, loyal, kind, and non-judgmental. Whether you always share the same ideas or opinions or not, consider these qualities when evaluating your friend list on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram too!

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About Annemarie Lange

Annemarie Lange is a licensed professional counselor in the Philadelphia area that utilizes mindfulness and meditation to help her clients deal with a variety of challenges.

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