We all have Facebook 'friends'. As in Real Life, we have really close friends, we have people we know well, we have friends who count as colleagues and some who are just acquaintances. Some, we don't really even know at all.
As in Real Life, we go through phases, changes, shifts with our Facebook friendships. Sometimes we drift apart. Sometimes we discover we don't have much in common any more. Sometimes things 'happen' that make us feel a friendship has come to an end. Sometimes we can't even remember who that Facebook friend is!
This is all okay. This is what happens in Real Life, too, and unless it's someone you're desperately close to and something terribly awful has happened, it's nothing to break your heart over. It's nothing to stress over when it comes to the dreaded UNFRIEND button.
People have probably unfriended me. I don't know for sure--because I couldn't care a whit about it. An unfriending doesn't define me. I take no offense. Alas, some people do. I've had one acquaintance (who I met a handful of times) go into meltdown over an unfriending. Head spinning in bewilderment, I tried to remind myself that this had nothing to do with me.
It can be scary to unfriend people on Facebook, but it can also be very good for your heart, mind and, frankly ... your career. Every 12 months or so, I go though a bit of a cull. For the most part, it's people I can't even remember (perhaps some lovely soul I met a writers' conference five years ago), but occasionally it's other people, too, and here's why ...
My personal Facebook page (not my author page) is my little online haven. It's where I can feel free to express myself without fear of judgment or retribution. It's where I can seek aid, support, information and warmth. It's where I can share and know that people genuinely care about and take interest in who I am, and what I do. It's sort of like my virtual 'home'. Just like Real Life, who I let into that home, who is privy to my somewhat internal world, has to be hand-picked.
You wouldn't let someone who is fractious, deriding, patronising or argumentative into your Real Life home. You wouldn't allow someone who enjoys debasing you or subjecting you to unpleasant or disturbing words, pictures or attitudes into your home. I'm all for peace, calm and warmth in my world. I don't want a fight. I don't want an argument. I don't want to be consistently bombarded with self-promotion or want-want-wants.
A peaceful Facebook existence is important for your heart and head but it's also vital for your career. If, like me, you have many industry colleagues who regularly visit your Wall, you might want to refrain from posting anything that in some way puts your credibility or reputation in jeopardy. We all know that's a given but you also want to be careful how you comment on posts, and how you respond to the comments of others.
When people leave debasing or negative or argumentative comments on my Wall, and I find myself becoming heated over them, I know this isn't a 'good look' for myself and my career. I don't want to appear angry and prickly over some moronic comment. There's enough heat in this world without navigating the barbs and arrows some 'friends' whack on your Wall, hoping for a bite.
We need peaceful, happy Facebook worlds, with a focus on sharing our lives with both friends and colleagues who are supportive and kind. The great thing is, we can have full control over that world. For me, having the occasional cull helps me take back that control. Those I'll choose to cull include:
- those who post or link to anything disturbing, violent, graphic, racist or otherwise offensive
- those who consistently tag me as a way of self-promotion or bombard me with self-promotion or LIKE requests
- 'trawlers'--those who never, ever comment on any of my regular posts, not even those containing good news or celebration, but will happily comment when they want to be deliberately fractious or debasing or try to prove me wrong, complete with reference links
- those I simply do not remember or whom I have zero relationship with
I really believe it's important to repel negative energy in our lives. We have enough trouble navigating the mainstream media's obsession with terror and horror and conflict. Why actively put up with it in our virtual homes?
I also make a rule that I never friend anyone I don't personally know, or at least don't know well yet--no matter how lovely they are.
Facebook is not a popularity contest. I don't even know how many FB friends I have, and it doesn't worry me to see that number shrink. What does worry me is when I see someone with 5,000 friends--it shouts quantity-not-quality. I'm much more of a quality girl.
So, don't worry about your friend numbers. Don't worry about offending someone if you unfriend. You are only looking out for yourself and if someone becomes belligerent over an unfriend, they're really not the type of person you want in your life anyway.
Consider the Facebook Cull. Click that button and let go. The relief you feel at the severance of negative energy is a wonderful thing. Say no to trawlers and fractious commenters. Say yes to a happy virtual home and career.