What’s happened to the right to say “No” and set your own personal boundaries in life? Lately there have been some articles in the media on the negative cognitive and emotional responses to being unfriended on Facebook. But sometimes being told “No” is exactly what you need to hear to snap out of an addictive trance, or those toxic relationships or obsessions that just aren’t good for you.
Okay, so people don’t like being unfriended on Facebook by people they know and like. It’s bound to bring up old hurts and wounds around being excluded from the cool group at school, or being dumped by your best friend growing up. It’s not a great feeling being cyber dumped by someone you thought was your ‘friend’. It can trigger all those negative self-defeating thoughts like “I’m not good enough, cool enough, interesting enough, beautiful enough”, you know the ones. Leaving you feeling rejected and snubbed.
It’s astounding the amount of toxic self talk and feelings of low self esteem that can get triggered when someone says “No” to you – when you’re basing your self worth on external sources of validation.
Which is what’s going on if you’re being negatively impacted by someone unfriending you on Facebook. For children and teenagers, being excluded from groups is a bigger deal. Particularly if they’re shy or more reserved in nature and don’t have loads of friends. For younger people being unfriended on Facebook and other social media can really hurt.
There’s a lot of financial gain tied up in Facebook. So we’re all being constantly told how important our Facebook ‘identity’ is, and how integral it is to our personal identity. Of course that’s what the people who are making vast amounts of money from Facebook want everyone to believe. And if you’ve grown up using an iPad since you were 6 years old then your experience of Facebook is clearly going to be different to people who didn’t grow up with social media.
But at the end of the day, switch off your laptop or mobile device and Facebook no longer exists.
If you’re being negatively impacted when someone you know unfriends you on Facebook, here’s what you can do to detox from social media overkill, see things from a different perspective and get on with your life:
Image by Tim Gouw
5 Ways To Get Over Being Unfriended On Facebook
- If you’re upset over being unfriended on Facebook the first thing you need to do is step away from all of your devices and give yourself a 24 hour social media cooling off period. Go and talk about it with a friend – in person – to get some empathy for the parts of you that are feeling rejected and hurt. If you have children or teenagers, you need to give them emotional and constructive support if they’re being cyber bullied or excluded from groups on social media, or unfriended by someone they felt close to.
- Give other people permission to say “No” to you. Giving other people permission to choose who they hang out with on Facebook and in real life gives you the same rights. It makes it an even playing field. You too have the right to unfriend or block anyone, for whatever reason. Unfriending on Facebook often comes down to someone posting content that’s repetitive, inappropriate, or because of something that’s happened outside of Facebook. These days lots of people annually cull the number of friends they have on Facebook to keep their connections personally relevant. Most adults are now over the whole ‘numbers to impress’ game when it comes to their personal Facebook account.
- Take a look at how much time you’re spending on Facebook each day. Are you being sucked down cyber rabbit holes for hours and days on end? If you are, then it’s time to take a break from virtual cyberspace and get back into the real physical world and spend quality face-to-face time with your other friends.
- If someone’s unfriended you because you’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with them, this is a red flag alert. You need to switch off your computer and mobile devices and let go of the fantasy and addictive patterns you’ve developed around this person and Facebook. It’s high time you put your energy and imagination into building healthier relationships that are real and mutual.
- Seek validation from more trustworthy, less fickle sources. Facebook and other forms of social media rely on the fact that most people adopt a herd mentality in groups and unconsciously follow the rest of the pack. There’s a lot of copycat, “me too” group dynamics going on. Yet Hollywood shows us again and again that relying heavily on external, fickle sources for validation to feel worthy as a person and good about yourself can be dangerous and fleeting. Go for substance and credible, trusted sources for validation and honest feedback.
Rejection or “No” gets your attention. It stops you in your tracks and forces you to re-evaluate a whole range of things. Your beliefs, behaviours and expectations around what you want out of life and your friendships. If being told “No” totally devastates you, then there are issues around self esteem that need to be healed. Disappointment and pain are valuable opportunities to learn about yourself and grow.
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a fantastic social networking and friendship building tool. But when you lose all perspective and see it as an extension of your self worth and likeability for who you really are, then you’re bound to get disappointed and tripped up by the aspects of Facebook that are just not that credible or real.
When one door closes, other doors open. That’s how life works. Nature abhors a vacuum. Rejection when taken on board with self-awareness is a powerful catalyst for personal growth and positive change.
Being unfriended on Facebook can be a good opportunity to declutter your friend space and create room for friendships of more substance to enter into your life. It can also get you to view Facebook from a more balanced and objective perspective and not let it dominate your life.
Title image by Luis Llerena