We live in an age of connection. Sometimes those connections aren’t positive. We have many ways to be connected online—Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat—and you’d think, given the fact these connections aren’t in real life, it would be easy to simply click “delete” on a person who is obnoxious in our social media feed. But when push comes to shove, most of us hesitate to delete such “friends.”
When we delete friends from social media, we’re not just severing that connection. We’re making a statement. When we stop following someone on social media, we’re saying we no longer want to engage with the minutia of that person’s life. For some people, this is offensive, and it’s why we hesitate to delete “friends” even when it would be an incredible relief to do so. If you’re debating whether to delete (Facebook) or unfollow (Instagram) someone on social media, here are four questions to ask yourself before you do.
1. Are You Close in Real Life?
Are you close with this friend outside of social media? Typically, if you’re considering deleting them, this will be an easy answer: no. If you regularly see this person in your daily routine, but don’t want to see their posts, you can just unfollow them. If you’re close with them in real life and their posts are rude, provocative or angry, it might be time to have a conversation with them.
2. Are You Actively Ministering to or Being Discipled by Them?
Sometimes, when we’re discipling a person, we need to be connected with them on social media, but don’t agree with everything they’re saying and posting. In cases like these, we need to show grace for their growth. Until they mature spiritually, they may post things that are immature or even inappropriate. Talk to them about it if you have a relationship with them; get to the heart of their motives.
Sometimes the roles are reversed, and someone we deeply respect or who has mentored us in the past posts things we don’t agree with. In these cases, it’s once again wise to talk to the person directly. If they don’t change, you can decide whether to unfollow them or, if you sense the relationship is not progressing and nothing changes, delete them.
3. Are Their Posts Toxic and Aggressive?
Some people we’re connected with on social media use their platform to spew toxicity. They love an argument or a debate. They regularly comment dour or angry thoughts on your posts and your friends’ posts. If someone is toxic on social media, ask yourself the previous two questions. Ask yourself if the connection is worth your time and energy (especially emotional energy).
4. Do They Only Contact You for “Business Opportunities”?
Finally, does this friend only contact you when she needs money, wants to throw a party or tell you about her next business opportunity? If this is the only contact you have with her, are you really friends?
Ultimately this is the question to ask no matter who you’re considering for deletion: Are we really friends? There are differences between real friends, acquaintances and “Facebook friends.” It’s okay to be selective about who you connect with online. While we are called to show grace and be patient with others, we aren’t required to connect with everyone who sends us a request, either. Consider all the options when you approve that next request!