Bury A Friend: My Experiences With The Unfriend Button

I haven’t been active on Facebook in many years, but have recently begun to dip my toe back into that social media swamp. I’m starting afresh so need to have a massive purge of my old account. This has necessitated me hitting the ‘unfriend’ button repeatedly as I clear my timeline of those who I never had any connection with in the first place. It’s a cull, a cleansing, an online reorganisation of my life. In a way cathartic, but also a tad guilt ridden.

I wonder what it would be like to be on the receiving end of this unfollow frenzy. Do those affected even notice, or somewhere have I hurt somebody, left them feeling unwanted and discarded? Due to the nature of my previous account, I have never spoken to nor met the vast majority of these people. Yet still, I feel a tiny prick of my conscience every time I hit that button. Am I really that thoughtless, that callous, that cold?

I’ve been on the receiving end of the unfriend button, both online and in real life. I believe the former is known as ‘ghosting,’ where a person makes the decision to cut you out of their life, without explanation. I’ve felt snubbed by those who have turned their backs on me, when I’ve been on my knees and in need of true friendship and support. People who I thought cared about me, wanted to be part of my world.

It’s not a nice feeling, and so easy to wallow in self pity, asking yourself why they are being like this and what have you done wrong. You pick at the scab, over and over again, until fresh blood is drawn. The obsessive personality refuses to let it heal if its own accord, you dissect and over analyse in forensic detail the reasons why you are no longer good enough to merit their attention or time.

It’s not a pleasant feeling and a guaranteed way to plummet down a rabbit hole into a Mad Hatters pity party of quite epic proportions. You become the failure they have painted you as, you look in their eyes and see their perception of you, the failure, the inadequacies, the weaknesses. You fail to see the truth, and swallow the bitter pill they have shoved down your throat. You consume the lie they force feed you with.

Look around and take in the truth. The truth is in the eyes of those who remain. The family and friends who have stuck by you, even at times when the wheels have threatened to come off and send us all screaming over the edge of the precipice. They are the truth, and they are all that matters. Not the flatterers, the fairweather friends, the false and the fake. Discard them like an old coat and keep walking forward.

This is an exciting time for me. A major promotion at work, on the verge of publishing my first book and running a blog which has succeeded my wildest dreams. A fantastic running opportunity has also landed in my lap this week and I am loved by people around me who are all I need. I am in a good place, light years from where I was previously. The negativity, the depression, the unhappiness are nowhere to be seen.

And I realise. I needed to be unfriended. It was a necessary evil, a cauterisation of a festering wound which was threatening to infect my entire being. I am free of that life now, free to rebuild and live the life I was born to live. I have what I need as I head towards my birthday on Sunday. So, hit that button all you want, batter it, but you will not batter me into submission. For I am starting again.

What have been your experiences of unfollowing, unfriending and ghosting?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 15 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

48 thoughts on “Bury A Friend: My Experiences With The Unfriend Button

  1. I once had over 3000 Facebook friends. Two presidential campaigns & other issues has decimated my list to the point where I am down to around 650 friends. But that’s OK. The way I see it, they were never really friends anyway. Just people that I happened to know.

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  2. I think depending on which end of the “unfriending” you’re on can trigger positive and negative emotions. Liberation, sadness, lightness, insecurity. I’ve been on both ends and try not to take things personal. I am not going to click with everyone and vice versa.

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  3. I saw “Bury a Friend” and thought oh no, someone you know passed away, and then knowing you’re a writer I thought, nah, it’s about zombies or something.:-) I’m not on Facebook, so I can’t say I’ve ever unfriended someone. Think I’ll keep it that way because I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

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  4. I swear we are living in a parallel universe. After being fired almost two weeks ago by a nameless coworker that still hasn’t had it in them to say it was her I went through and unfriended a ton of people. As a good friend said if I wouldn’t have someone in my house for a meal they don’t need to be on my FB. So I hacked off quite a few high school friends, church peeps and then everyone I worked with. I have since added back my close work friends. The best part I see a lot more stuff from the people I like. I can’t wait to see what happens next for you as it will probably happen to me. Bahahaha

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  5. I think you’ve heard my story. Lost most of my “friends” a couple years ago. Real righteous church goers. (Not your typical Christians, who could never measure up to them) People who I thought would at least give a little effort to try to understand or work things through, sent me off without a thought to what their actions meant, or what ugly lies I would have to renounce at the shame they pronounced on me.
    But am I a better person because of it? Yes sir! Just like you’ve moved forward and held on to those who are willing to walk beside you, so did I. I see those old friends now, and I wouldn’t want to trade places with them for a second! Miserable people, who keep to themselves – since no one else is good enough, can’t do anything but criticize others, act kindly when they’re alone with you but refuse to acknowledge your presence when they’re together, because their more afraid of being shunned themselves than of exposing their own hypocrisy. Yup, you bet I’m better for it… although I’d give up almost anything for reconciliation. Not to be best friends again, but at the very least to be civil to each other. I hate having unresolved conflict, always feels like I need to do something more when I’ve done all I can.

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  6. I unfriend people if they piss me off or believe in things like conspiracy theories. It doesn’t happen very often and I tend to get unfriended by others more than I unfriend. I find if you have strong opinions about things then you’re going to lose some people on the way, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t use Facebook as much as I used to. I’ve found it’s very difficult to get people interested in stuff you’re doing there, which is why I so love WordPress and the supportive network I’ve stumbled into here.

    I don’t ghost people. I find it hard not to reply to people and I loathe being ghosted myself, which is probably why I don’t do it.

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  7. I think I have fewer than three dozen “friends” on Facebook, and they’re almost all related to me. I don’t “follow” most of them, however, because they tend to post things like dozens of lost dog adverts, trite memes, and the equivalent of old-fashioned chain letters, which end up overwhelming my feed and making it hard to find important stuff. And apparently they don’t pay any attention to anything I post, because they never leave a “like” or a comment. So if I want to find out what any of them have been up to, I just go to my “friends” list, click on their pages and take a quick look around.

    Use social media on your own terms, and “the divvil take the hindmost.”

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  8. I recently culled my Facebook friends list and it felt good. I’m not sure any of those I unfriended even noticed, but now my feed reflects those who I share a true connection.

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  9. FB – love it. It keeps me connected and helps me get to know new friends I meet face to face (helps me remember their names too lol). But I’ve used tricks… and the fewer I interact with the fewer that interact with me. I’ve turned off most notifications so I do miss out on things… I also unfollow instead of unfriend a lot who I want to stay connected with but not interact with. I only have about 300+ friends. I have Unfriended those that I would not choose to have a cup of coffee with and some I met virtually in groups that I no longer participate in. My time spent there has moved over to here (WordPress) and I still have trouble managing my time and interactions. But I need connections. Like last night posting about the buckets of rain we got and we were fearful of high waters again in our street. All is well, but it was comforting to talk with a few people during the height of the stress. Now it’s time to leave your “house” and go elsewhere!! Later!! 😉

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  10. This topic is such funny timing in my own endeavors with social media. I’ve been off all of it before a few months ago for about 5ish years or more…because I couldn’t keep up with it all. I felt like I could barely keep my life and relationships in check offline!! So recently I decided to go on Instagram to make a page just about my cat and hopefully spark any more interest in anyone wanting to check out our blog. Man. I quickly realized how behind I am. People asked what my “handle” was-my what?? I got texts from some friends asking if I’d gotten online..I guess they can get notifications…and-a sore spot that reminded me how easy it is to feel hurt: a trend I knew nothing about-people who follow you to get you to follow them, then they drop you. These are people I don’t know-and yet….ouch!!! It just doesn’t feel good no matter how strong I think I am. That younger self who wants to be liked-is easily bruised. Then I remember not to take it personally and focus on what I love-just writing…sharing my cute cat. And being ok with that. Also still having days I’m like “wait where’d that guy go I just followed him back! We could’ve gotten along and exchanged more car stories!!!”

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  11. When you unfriend someone on Facebook it has absolutely no effect on them.

    The better question to ask yourself, however, is how they ended up on your friend’s list to begin with. Either you added them, or accepted friend requests from people you don’t know, which is irresponsible and dangerous.

    Yes, cull that list, but learn from it. It didn’t happen on its own.

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  12. Facebook amazes me. There are people who are on my friends’ list that I KNOW I did not put there – it has to be a glitch, or maybe I was sleep Facebooking? Is that a thing? I have yet to purge my Facebook of people I do not interact with, never have, and likely never will. I have not purged them because 1. I am lazy and 2. for the guilt factor you alluded to here. I have been on both sides of the “unfriend” button. I have removed people who were causing havoc and unnecessary drama. I have also been “unfriended” and it honestly did not bother me much – well maybe a tad or two.

    Facebook is one thing, real life friends quite another. I have been “ghosted” by somebody I thought was a true friend – somebody I confided in and who, in turn, confided in me. I thought we were best friends forever, apparently not. I was deeply hurt, but I recovered. People come into our lives and people go. As the saying goes. some come to give a blessing, others a lesson. May we receive both well.

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  13. I have a love hate relationship with facebook. I love bragging about my own kids at times (when they let me post) then get jealous of others. I realize that when I get upset it’s never about someone else but something disturbed in me and I , gasp, pray for the other person’s upmost happiness and continued success. Keeps me out of self pity!

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  14. I have personally learned that many people I have unfriended either A) do not notice or B) say something snarky to someone else but never directly to me. Ha. When I got sober 14 months ago, I moved away and deleted over 150 people. Not a single one said anything. But, I made it very easy on them. I was changing my lifestyle and uprooting my life and we didn’t serve a purpose for one another. Other unfriending has been much harder. But, as I have backed away more and more from Facebook (I truly think it will die off or become totally different and unbearable in the next 5-10 years) the easier it is for me to understand who adds value to my life and who doesn’t. The rare moments I’m back on Facebook now, I have no problem unfriending someone who just shares things that are completely against everything I believe in or stand for and who are really adding nothing to my life. And, I no longer feel bad about it. I think I have personally just gotten to a point where I don’t need the validation of others anymore! I like myself more so it’s easier to rid those who are toxic.

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  15. Don’t waste another moment feeling bad about unfriending or being unfriended. A lot of folks are shortening the amount of FB friends they have, or de-activating their accounts. I’ve come within a hair’s breadth of closing mine. It’s mostly just memes, political venting, and ads.

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  16. I have been “ghosted” and have been the one to “ghost.” Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for not so good reasons. Real friends will be there to love and support through the good times and bad. So proud of you for getting that promotion!!

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  17. I’ve had a couple of ghosting experiences which have been hard, especially from people I thought wouldn’t, or would provide an explanation. But then, God has helped me try to understand their perspective. People are shy, hate confrontation, etc. I can’t force anyone to tell me why they don’t want to talk to me anymore. I can’t force a potential try to “get back together” as friends. So I try to work on understanding. However, there are times when I’ve unfriended. Especially people I used to be close to, and I’m not talked to, but wanted as a “friend” only, I assume, for people to be nosey about what is going on in my life, but not talk to me. I don’t like that. There have been people I’ve unfriended and a few months later I will see a friend request. There have been a few I’ve reaccepted. I didn’t really have issues, only thought they wouldn’t care.

    It is amazing how we see even the negative parts of life can be used for good. God is good! 🙂

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  18. Before I jumped off of my personal fb page, I developed a habit of unfriending people that I didn’t really know when they popped up on their birthday. (I know, I’m such a B). I’d think, do they follow my art or blog? Would they speak to me in person if I ran into them (usually they don’t)? And then, I’d quietly give them the gift of not my fb friendship for their birthday.

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