My disgust for social media grows daily. I currently use it out of branding “necessity” or to occupy time while I poop, but my usage is depleting steadily. It’s because prolonged exposure has proven to be toxic. But today, I wanted to briefly discuss the efficacy of deleting or blocking so-called “friends” from viewing your page and the content you post.
While there are many valid reasons to delete someone from your friend list—vendettas, painful memories, a general dislike of a person, creepers, etc.—I’ve found that most deletions occur due to a distaste in conflicting social and political standings.
There have been numerous posts where users declared that they’ve ‘deleted all the racists and sexists’ from their profiles. I’ve also seen users delete friends and family members based on their political affiliation or who the person voted on. The deletion is often followed by a virtue-signaling statement indicating that they have no tolerance for their kind and that behavior.
This, let’s call it trend, baffles me.
I’m confused because it doesn’t really feel like a punishment for the deletee.
It’s easy to imagine what dialogue runs through the deleter’s head as they pick off their ex-friends one-by-one, “I’ll show them. That’s what they get for saying THAT! I hope you learned your lesson!” For some reason, I picture them as the doorman in the Wizard of Oz angrily telling other users they cannot access their information anymore. “Nobody sees my posts. Nobody no how!”
Maybe I’m way off base here, but when people mention or sometimes threaten deletion, the act seems a bit spiteful, vengeful, and attention-seeking. Firstly, why do you need to announce that you ‘cleaned house?’ Secondly, do people really believe this is going to affect someone’s life that much? As if their lives are going to end now that they can’t see your posts anymore? That is the definition of narcissism if one thinks otherwise.
The fact is, no one’s life will be upended if someone’s posts become inaccessible. While I’m sure you’re (I’m not speaking to anyone in particular) awesome and the content you post is brimming with originality, I’m willing to wager that most people are unphased by removal.
They probably won’t even know for some time—most people aren’t eagerly awaiting your next post. Unless you’re famous or something, yours are just another in an infinite scroll.
Most of them aren’t actually friends.
The definition of friendship likely varies from person to person, but I’m going to assume most on our lists don’t qualify as real ones. I consider a friend to be, with a few exceptions, someone I talk to regularly and can rely on. There’s only a handful on my social media accounts that fall under that umbrella so for the remaining “friends,” it’s no real loss…for either of us.
Also, most real friendships can’t be undone with a simple button click. It often takes a lot before someone is unfriended in real life. If there’s an ideological disagreement, they’re usually argued over or tolerated simply because they’re an actual friend. Sometimes, we learn to deal with or accept their beliefs and oddities. Like certain family members during the holidays. And that’s what’s great about real friendships, real relationships, disagreements can occur without deletion.
Deleting people hurts both parties.
I will agree that clearing your feeds of negativity is good for your mental health. However, I’d argue that not looking at your feed is far better than cleaning it to only show the content that you desire. Nothing, in this case, is better than something.
With that being said, deleting people who have opposing viewpoints locks you into an ideological bubble. Your feed becomes a breeding ground for ignorance if you filter to see only what you want to see. This applies to all modes of thinking and media forms. Of course, you and I consider our thoughts and beliefs to be the right ones, but filling our lives with reinforcements will only stifle our growth and ability to understand new concepts.
To better understand ourselves and the rest of the world, we must learn to understand other viewpoints. It doesn’t mean we need to accept them, however. But knowing why someone thinks the way they do can open your world up—generate a new perspective, help you navigate uncertainty.
What’s the old saying, Know thine enemy?
Deleting can be harmful to others for the same reason it may be for you. You’re closing them off to different views that they used to be exposed to. If you use your social media accounts for advocacy then you need as much exposure as possible. You’re never going to change someone’s mind by deleting them, potentially cutting them off from the only antithetical outlets they have access to. Sometimes, you’re forcing them further into their ideology by keeping their bubble intact.
Social media isn’t life.
Believe it or not, the header is true. Social media shows us snapshots of who people are and how they think when really, people are far more complex than a few oversimplified memes. To understand the problem, we must understand the person and it won’t happen using these outlets. Real conversation is what’s needed.
So the next time you think about deleting someone who doesn’t share the same outlook, no matter how vile, consider what it takes to change a mind. Blocking them will do nothing to get them to see your side, but exposing them to your truth may help guide them toward a different perspective. Who knows, maybe you’ll influence the change that caused you to delete them in the first place.
Before you go!
Is deleting people effective? What prompts you to delete friends? Please voice your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section!
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