It’s happened to us all, probably more than once. In an age where social media is a daily—even hourly—ritual, there are now complicated rules and faux pas associated with all of the different apps and websites.
As we use our social media to give life updates en masse, and to check up on the lives of our friends both close and estranged, every once in a while, we may notice that someone is missing from our feeds… Realizing you’ve been unfriended can be a surprisingly complicated emotional experience, whether you’ve got 5,000 friends or just 50.
There are many factors that can change the way you feel about being unfriended. If it’s a childhood friend or someone you’ve known for a long time but haven’t had the time to catch up with recently, it will undoubtedly sting more than if it’s just someone you met once at your cousin’s housewarming party.
And once the realization sets in, your first thoughts may naturally turn to ‘What did I do wrong?!’ The more socially anxious of us may look through our own profiles to make sure the ratio of PDA pictures, cute baby animals, cute baby humans, new house/car/job/phone posts, and perfectly filtered selfies are juuuust right.
But in truth, there is no perfect cocktail of posts. Some friends will be irked by that ONE TIME you stated that you find sloths to be annoying, while others will clamor for even more updates on your love life. You just can’t please everyone, and the reality is that you can’t stop someone from unfriending you if that’s what they really want to do.
And once you get over that initial hurt, you realize that losing one or two friends on Facebook or Instagram or whichever doesn’t really matter. In fact, in two weeks you won’t even notice their absence from your social feeds!
Of course, the next time you visit your hometown or go out for a Sunday afternoon jog, you’ll run into that friend because that’s just how unlucky you are. Do you ignore them since they chose to cut you out of social media? Or do you go in for the big-smile-and-a-hug to remind them of how truly gracious you are, despite their betrayal? Or else give a shy, no-teeth smile and slight wave to let them know they’ve been acknowledged but that you are no longer friends on the Internet or in person?
Like a Goosebumps: Choose Your Own Adventure book, what you decide to do will change the nature of your relationship with this person.
And when you get home after either catching up over a cup of coffee or staunchly avoiding eye contact with your unfriend-er, you’ll sit at your desk and heave a sigh of relief for having successfully beaten this ordeal. As you flick through your social media routine, however, you will eventually realize this could happen with any number of your social media friends…