Originally published in Sunday Girl Magazine issue 7
He broke your heart. You’ve not been friends since school. You don’t like their angry political opinions. You never really knew them (other than when you were both queuing in the loos, and bonded over your shared love of Caitlin Moran). That was the beginning and end of the friendship and five years later you’ve seen her graduate, her holiday in New York and two relationships begin and end. So why oh why do we feel so guilty about pressing unfriend, unfollow and deleting person X from our following list?
It popped into my head as my ex-friends popped onto my timeline, my Insta-feed and into my messages. I had broken up with my them in person. It wasn’t meant to be, and I had the relief of knowing I wouldn’t have to see them again. Why would I want to see the people who had hurt me? Isn’t that what a break up is for? So why was I continuing to let them in online?
I felt guilty. Nobody wants to seem like the bad guy. It’s hard to be the one to cut ties. After all if no one really knows who’s done what, in love or in friendship, then it’s as if you’re making it pretty obvious who the bad guy is. It’s you the one who chose to close the door. Or for the friend from school who you don’t dislike but you aren’t particularly fond of either, it feels like you’re potentially giving them the dreaded “have I been deleted?” moment, if (let’s be honest here) they even notice.
It can seem dramatic. Or so they say. Especially in a group chat scenario. It can look like you’re shouting out your departure on speakerphone, as the group chats announces that you have “left the conversation”. If only you could just buck-up, stop being such a baby and scroll past the picture of them at the pub quiz last night; and the glossy-magazine-esque photo of him with his new her.
Finally, perhaps most importantly: it’s hard to let go. Whether this be for FOMO (fear of missing out) reasons because everyone loves a good Insta-stalk; or because at one point in time you were sending each other GIFs every day, and now the sight of her going for a walk to the countryside, fills you with sadness. “It used to me,” you think, or “why are they happy whilst I’m sat here miserable?”
But I guess, these points only make it more clear to me that the answer is to delete. The what if they notice? The what if I look like a bitch? and the what if I miss out? It’s a lot of guesswork and wondering about a bunch of people, who are causing you at best boredom, or at worst pain.
I have some good news for you. Their social media existence is not about you; and luckily yours is not about them. Since when was it dramatic to take yourself away from a situation that hurts you? Isn’t it more dramatic to stay friends with people who upset you and then constantly complain about it? Shouldn’t we feel guilty about rolling our eyes at someone we’re bored with online, who’s just trying to express themselves? And shouldn’t we stop scrolling past what makes us sad? – If you hadn’t seen her in that fabulous outfit, you wouldn’t be crying on the floor wondering why she’s not your friend anymore. But you did and now you are.
These people could have been nobodies that you feel a bit rude to, or they could be the old loves of your life but if they’re making you unhappy it’s time to unfriend. It’s taking away the intended purpose of all the apps we know and love, the social side. Without the posts that cause us stress, we could allow more room for the online social interactions that are genuine, and you could feel free in a space to be yourself, if it’s a space filled with those you love.
Sure, there are more things we could all be doing, we could spend less time on our phones, we could delete some apps altogether, and we could deal with our jealousy and self worth issues. But as a first step, a simple one, one that’s not about hurting others just about protecting yourself we could simply, do it with me now: hit delete.
By Lynsey Rose Kay