Social media can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, it allows us nearly instant communication with friends and family as close as the same town and as far as countries that are thousands of miles away. Sadly, there is also the reality that not everyone we are connected with online are truly friends. Add to that the sensory overload that can occur with updates, notifications, etc. and social media can be both a blessing and a curse. It is the negative aspect of this dichotomy that has led me of late to unfollow certain people, though not without a wringing of the hands.
Failed relationships, be they romantic or platonic, are never something one feels good about. Whenever an unfriending occurs on Facebook (whether I am the one unfriending someone or vice-versa), it never feels good. Perhaps this is why I have taken lately to simply unfollowing people? This allows for the illusion of an online 'friendship' to continue, all the while I can no longer see the unwanted information emanating from said individuals. It may come as no surprise that the unfollows have increased in frequency since the 2016 election. What may be more surprising is that I have unfollowed a majority of liberals/progressives, as opposed to conservative friends.
Look, to put it mildly, I am not a fan of Donald Trump. Having said that, I don't need to be reminded of the reasons I dislike him on a daily basis. Too many people give him too much oxygen as it is (metaphorically speaking, of course). Every. Single. Day I am inundated with memes, diatribes, etc. from my liberal friends about how awful Trump is. It's too much. Negativity, even negativity one is sympathetic to, is not good for the soul. This doesn't mean my head is in the sand. I keep up with the news (from multiple sources). I research facts and information. But I simply don't want or need a constantly negative news feed from my social media outlet. That's not why I'm on social media.
It is true that I've also unfollowed several uber-conservative friends, as well. Ones who tell 'jokes' equating dogs with "brown people" (yes, literally) are on the list, as are those who seem to have a problem with someone talking about their sexual orientation. So on and so forth. Many such posts are done in a snarky, or 'joking' manner, not unlike the memes and posts coming from their counterparts on the left. Let's be honest for a moment: These are preaching-to-the-choir moments. No one is likely to swayed by snark, vitriol and indignation. Of course, that may not be what anyone is after with these things. Very few people seem interested in actually communicating with one another anymore.
So, I will continue to be 'friends' with some people, all the while muting their protestations, list of perceived infractions done unto them, anger, righteousness and so on and so forth. Some self-reflection would probably assess my inability or unwillingness to simply unfriend these people as being averse to conflict. There could be some truth to that, though I have undertaken very public, political roles where conflict has sometimes been unavoidable. No, I prefer to think that keeping someone on as a 'friend' implies a hope that, some day, all of this bitterness will be behind us, and we can be happy and listen to one another again.
I may be deluding myself, though it would be no more delusional than the belief that posting snarky memes, one-sided articles, or people-shaming posts does any good for anyone.