With more and more complaints about how people behave online, some of you may ponder deleting your Facebook profile or all your social media accounts.
There are plenty of stories out there about people leaving social media that may give you the thought that deleting your Facebook account would be a great idea.
Some of us — like me — rely on Facebook as part of our work, so leaving the social media platform isn’t an option at all.
A recent Pew Research study found that one in four Americans, 26%, had deleted the Facebook app. An even larger number, 42% of Americans, who hadn’t actually deleted their account had taken a break from the site. That research found that the “break” lasted “for a period of several weeks or more.”
There are surely a variety of reasons for this. Some claim social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are out to “suppress” what is described as “Conservative” voices. Others site concerns over potential data breaches and privacy. Others tire of the ever-increasing drama that so many users seem to thrive on.
On the other hand, it is a way to keep in touch with people you’d otherwise have zero contact with.
I have to admit, I struggle with that one.
I made a comment to a co-worker the other day that it’s such a strange feeling when Facebook tells me someone in my friend list is celebrating a birthday that day and I look at the profile and think, “Who in the world is that?”
At some point, I surely accepted a friend request from the person, but neither the name nor the face looks familiar.
When it happens, I normally just make note of the name and check out their profile with a bit more scrutiny. If they still don’t look familiar or if I’m still unable to remember how we could have run into each other, I quietly unfriend them and move on.
But there are people in my Facebook friends list I’ve known in real life for years and years. In some cases, I’ve known them since grade school, which is a lot longer than I’d care to admit.
Other than an occasional “Happy Birthday” post on each other’s walls, we have no contact at all. If either of us dropped off the face of the earth, the other would probably just keep on with the “Happy Birthday” posts for years before ever realizing it.
Is the ‘friends list’ really a list of friends?
I’d love to tell you that everyone in my friends list is someone I’d actually call a friend. But I’m not one to throw that word around too casually. I have a handful of people I’d so classify. A good 90% of the people in my friends list are, at best, acquaintances. Aside from the 2-3% that I might think of as real friends, the rest fall into the “who is that?” category.
As I write this, in fact, I have 995 friends on Facebook. Who, in real life, has 995 friends? No one that I know of. I wish Facebook would call them “Connections” instead of “friends.”
But among those connections is a network that can lead to positive, real-life exchanges. A friend and former colleague of mine lost his battle with cancer at the end of 2018. My best friend posted on Facebook about having a get-together of former colleagues and tagged about 30 people. Nearly 50 showed up. There were folks I saw that evening that I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years.
And Facebook made that possible.
Before deleting your Facebook, try unfollowing instead.
There are a handful of people in my friends list who I’ve had to resort to “unfollowing.” When you unfollow, they still appear in your friends list. But the stuff they post to their own profile doesn’t appear in your news feed.
A couple of the ones I’ve unfollowed are folks I’ve gone to church with or folks I’ve known for a long time. Their religious and/or political views are quite different from mine. While I appreciate the opportunity to have healthy discussions and debate about differing points of view, these particular people have no desire for anything in the area of a “healthy” debate.
They just want to argue.
They want to use the most offensive language and make the most provocative statements they can conjure up just to get a rise out of people.
To put it another way, they love their drama a little too much.
They love it much more than I do.
And frankly, I just got tired of seeing it.
So no, I wouldn’t delete Facebook because of a few proverbial “bad apples.”
But I do consider that little “Unfollow” button to be an honorary member on my friends list.
And I’m not afraid to use it!