Goodbye My Friends: Why I Unfriended 43 People In 2014 Because Of The News
The Debrief: Here's what to do when you see that inevitable dickhead comment pop up on your facebook feed: unfriend
I lost 43 friends this year. I stopped caring what they were doing, or wanting to see their selfie faces. I didn’t need to know about their relationship status, nor even want to celebrate their birthdays. I actively defriended them. Forever unfriends. I am, of course, talking Facebook dumping.
Why have I chosen to rid just over a tenth of my social friends in 2014? Because, quite frankly, they were acting like jerks all over my Facebook feed in response to our biggest news stories.
This isn’t an annual cull, in fact it’s the first time I’ve ever been bothered to reduce my feed. For sure this is, in part, because I’m becoming less tolerant of the things that anger/upset me as I age, but also because 2014’s news felt more divisive than any before. The fourth wave of feminism clashing forces with the rise of the lads. All vocalised in abundance on all our social media platforms.
The first three losses came in March. When the MH370 plane went missing. Gone in thin air, literally. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fascinating story, and I, much like the rest of the world, was curious about where the plane had gone.
John Humphreys filling me in on the latest news each morning on Radio 4 was great, but did I need to watch three old friends from primary school all separately dissect every conspiracy theory going live on my news feed? Was it an alien abduction or a hijack by Afghans? Did the rapper Pitbull predict what would happen (maybe I did need to know this bit)? But still it was irritating, and so they were gone. Just like the plane.
2014’s news felt more divisive than any before. The fourth wave of feminism clashing forces with the rise of the lads. All vocalised in abundance on all our social media platforms.
The summer brought a feed filled with snaps from pub gardens and floral dresses mirror selfies. And then came the Tulisa trial. A pop star – a seemingly polite, hardworking young woman – conned in to some shitty scam by a scumbag paper, and suddenly my feed was filled with Tulisa slur. About her lips no less. Eight particular people were culled that July during Tulisa-gate: a few ex colleagues, a friend of the family, and an ex who was pretty sexist when we dated but proved it with his comments.
‘I unfriended one guy I went to school with after he posted a huge rant about the recent beheading videos where he voiced some pretty ignorant and racist comments’, a colleague Katie tells me. ‘He re-posted the horrendous clip that was originally circulated, and went on a huge rant about how our troops should be doing the same to IS fighters and then used it as an excuse to talk about immigration, saying things like, “We should send them all back” and “not let any more in”. It was pretty offensive!’
I, too, lost several friends in the beheading videos. In fact my Facebook stats have fared badly in the latter half of this year. The Scottish Referendum in October brought a whole wave of nationalism in to my social consciousness like ‘Why can’t we tell them to fuck off’. Click. Gone. ‘We don’t need them, they’re scrounging off us’. Goodbye. And so I was rid of six more, mainly toffs from university who I’d met in the Student Union on sports night Wednesdays. You know the type.
My whole stream was filled with guys jeering and ‘ladding’. It actually made me question why I’d ever been friends with any of them in the first place
Then came Ched Evans’ release from jail on 17 October. And 12 so-called friends were un-clicked in a sea of comments in the vein of, ‘He does what he wants, he does what he wants, Chedwyn Evans, he does what he wants’ and ‘Why should he apologise?’
Read More: In Defence Of Ditching Your Toxic Friends
In fact, from then on, any hint of a ‘lad’ on my feed and they were gone. One dear male friend, Tim, told me he’d lost half his university friends on social media after the Dapper Laughs story. ‘My whole stream was filled with guys jeering and “ladding” about him,’ Tim tells me one night at the pub.
‘It actually made me question why I’d ever been friends with any of them in the first place, and what was wrong with me that I had them as part of my network.’ Needless to say, these lot were now off Tim’s feed and off the Christmas card list, too. I also ditched 13 people over Dapper rage.
Of course, I’m yet to mention the 18 friends I lost for posting their smug blinged rings hovering over a Champagne glass, or the ‘You need to see all 847 wedding pictures that justify the 20k I dropped on one day’ mates I don’t need, or even the ‘look at my new baby eat, sleep, lie on his belly, and take a shit’. Perhaps it’s unfair to banish this lot in the same camp as Dapper Laughs fans, but in truth, the bile taste at the back of my throat is similar. And so they had to go.
‘Too many couple selfies – I can’t handle them. Also, old school friends that are bit cringe ‘night in by myself, need a hug, wish I had a boyfriend’ – just no. And people who just use Facebook for boring shit like ‘ANYONE KNOW A GOOD PLUMBER IN CLAPHAM’ – are all equally as annoying,’ The Debrief’s Social Media Editor admits. ‘But, actually, since I discovered the ‘hide’ button, I don’t unfriend that much anymore.’
For me, I feel I’m punishing them for putting their tosser views in the open sphere of the internet by un-friending them. Retracting my feed is a penalty. Though, tbh, I’m doubtful they even notice. For me, it’s how I serve justice.
‘Defriending is very much a 2.0 version of avoidance strategies – that is, individuals who hate facing problems or the reality,’ psychologist Ben Voyer tells me. ‘They would rather avoid being confronted by it. Generally speaking, individuals know two types of strategies when it comes to problems: approach/avoidance, and most of the time avoidance wins over.’
Avoidance wins for me. Perhaps it is the coward’s path, possibly I should fight them on the front lines of Facebook. Try to educate them in their wrong ways within lines of text in posts. But something about passionately arguing my political plight underneath pictures of my other mates doing tequila shots last Friday in a Tiki lounge by Piccadilly Circus seems a little trivialising. Facebook is for the unimportant – the birthdays, the nights out, the odd Buzzfeed LOL.
And so I watch silently seething, passively liking the odd ‘this is bullshit’ message that somone else adds in the comments. Even – once or twice – drafting my response in iPhone notes just to prove to myself I could form the argument, if needed. Then a casual click of the unfriend tab and their shitty posts are gone forever.
So bring on 2015, and let’s see how many friends survive…
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Picture: Eugenia Loli
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