The only time I find out I’ve unintentionally started shit is when someone bothers to say something.
“Hey, Catherine, I know we haven’t talked in a while, but…I noticed you deleted me from [Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/SnapChat/Words With Friends]. Did I do something? Is everything ok?”
To save us all some time, yes, everything’s fine. You’re fine. You’re great, even! Our friendship has just fallen in the cracks of what I term my Social Media Solution: when in doubt, delete.
I have deleted my parents, my siblings, some of my best friends of all time. Eventually those sneaky buggers always worm their way back, though. Some people, I have known for 25 years, and I delete them, because we haven’t talked in 22 years. Even if we did speak it would probably just to remember how we both loved the show Eerie, Indiana.
My deletion or unfollow does not indicate the status or value I put on our relationship. What it indicates is that sometimes my inner introvert takes over; sometimes I’m depressed and hate the whole world; sometimes social media stresses me out; and sometimes I just need some quiet.
Also yes, sometimes your social media brand is irritating as shit. Say, your weird uncle keeps tagging you in anti-BLM memes. Or you have too many men’s rights guys posting on your wall or something. All of these, and any others I choose, are totally valid. You have every right to your own, too!
The funny part is that the people who get the most explode-y about being deleted are ALWAYS the people who don’t really know me very well. They take it super personally and start lobbing weird projections my way: I am hurtful. I am thoughtless. I do not value compassion or the spiritual well-being of this near-stranger I just unfollowed on Pinterest. Jeebus Louibus. No thanks. You’ve proven my decision to delete you correct. HARD pass.
People who know me well just roll their eyes and laugh when I disappear. They’re used to my ursine hibernation pattern, my moodiness and shiftiness in the winter, when I am in the darkest throes of Seasonal Affective. They are used to me calling, making a plan, then falling asleep for 16 hours and never turning up. My besties know sometimes I am in a state where I consider it best to keep people away from my dark mood. It’s just how I am. It’s what I do. Going from 2200 friends to 137 feels good sometimes. It can be a huge relief.
Why is that though? For those who’ve gotten the axe from me or someone else, I can’t explain it better than to say this: I don’t like giving people unmediated access to my life, my relationships, my inside jokes, my deepest thoughts.
I don’t mind posting cute pics on Instagram, or showing you how my dogs are total idiots. That’s fun. But when people I don’t know come up to me on the street and reference a pretty personal status update? Nah. When barely-acquaintances know where I went to dinner and who with? Icky. When people who literally never talk to me in real life, who don’t know my phone number or my middle name or even the most reasonably tiny fact about me, start acting like I owe them a certain amount of emotional labor because they’re having a sad day? UH NAY. Ta-ta. I’m doneskies.
Like, I don’t always want to hear about your childhood trauma, your intimate breakup drama, your kids’ bowel movements. I mean, obviously I LOVE gossip (hmu with the juicy stuff) but I also just feel like a river of garbage and chatter flows around us all the time, and we’re meant to sort through it to find the good stuff. I can’t be bothered.
“Did you see my post the other day?” I promise you, no I didn’t. Send it to me if the news is that huge. I literally follow no one on Facebook. My news feed is all local swapmeet groups and funny pics of dogs, AS IT SHOULD BE. I miss the early days of Facebook when no one knew what it was yet and I’d just post the same pic of me in pigtails 10 times a day.
I have SO MUCH compassion for the Borg now. That groupmind stuff is annnnnoying. I guess they don’t have much individualism though, so maybe one Borg can’t flood the group channel with thoughts about how rude his sleeping pod neighbor was today.
Do I flood your feeds with garbage? Oh, absolutely. 100% I am the problem, too.
I’ll post ten pics of my dog’s bum because it’s cute. I will live-stream conversations with my wife about a commercial jingle. I rant on about stuff you might not care about.
Sometimes I serially-tweet at like 4 AM and don’t you dare complain because everyone knows you turn ALL NOTIFICATIONS OFF, bro. It’s not my fault that you got woken up because I wrote a 28-point rant about sweater dresses late one night.
2017 can only get better, guys. So let’s all agree to just delete willy-nilly, never take it personally, unfollow heartily, and if it comes up, worst case, just plead ignorance until neither one of you know who even deleted the other in the first place.
Merry Holidays and Happy New Year.