Unfriended. A Personal Experience

When virtual presence meets emotion, we can’t approach it quite the same as we do offline. How do we do this well?

It might have happened to you before. This week, I lost a social media friend, and I have no idea who it is. When I noticed, it stung my heart. I questioned my feed, my recent posts, and my authenticity. Did this person know me very well? Did I do something wrong? Friendship is important to me, so honestly, a bit of my self-esteem fell to insecurity too.

What do we do when things like this happen? How should we respond? — When virtual presence meets emotion, we can’t approach it quite the same as we do offline. I won’t be able to figure out who this person is, unless I try reaching out to them. Should I search my feed to see if it was a “close friend” or an “acquaintance?” Doing this is only easy if your friend list is concise. It’s hard to think, if they remain anonymous, I won’t be able to ask why they un-friended me or find out the reasoning. It is such an emotional experience, losing a friend.

But what if this un-friending actually has nothing to do with me at all?

I realize that now is the season of Lent (between Ash Wednesday and Easter),and many people are taking social media breaks and unplugging for 40 days, or completely. Maybe this person just called it quits with technology for a bit. That makes sense, but still leaves me unsettled. What is it, exactly, that people need a break from, you know? (I think most of us do.) Have you noticed too, social media seems to be a really popular thing to “give up” these days. ~

Even yet, if it isn’t personal, and it isn’t a holiday fast, then why else would someone disappear from my friend list? Maybe this person is hurting. Maybe they’re going through something traumatic that doesn’t mesh well with Facebook or small talk. Were they just “over it?” Or, among even more reasons, could it just be as simple as this…Maybe they lost a friend that day too, like me, and couldn’t understand why, so they pulled their account completely. Can you relate to my experience? Have you ever found yourself in this position, too?

It doesn’t take much effort to develop a pro and con list with social media. No other generation has navigated friendships this way, so we are learning in every moment. The whole process, and its affects, are a hot topic. Why do we do it? And how do we do it well? Is there a “right” way to socialize virtually?

Without the use of senses to connect with others, it is extremely easy to develop blurred understanding. We can be misread, and we can also misread others. It can lead to depression, as we know, and it can also make way for pride and vanity.

Social media acceptance becomes an idol for us, if we aren’t careful. It’s scary to think, but true. Approval from others isn’t a solid foundation for self-worth, and it will never fill the void. We can’t let it define our importance or credibility. We weren’t created for this.

Confidence, when it is built on the approval of others,

will always be shaken…no matter who you are.

Even while we know these things, how do we handle ourselves when emotions waiver? What kind of truth can we hold onto instead?

~Ayme