On Granting Yourself Permission To Delete

There’s been much chatter in my social media feeds lately about how online relationships “should” be handled. Usually the back and forth banter comes down to this: When is it acceptable to virtually delete someone from your life?

Some folks don’t believe you need a reason at all: Unfriend Immediately and Don’t Look Back. Don’t like someone because of what they say/post/share/like? Delete. No regrets. End of story.

Then you have the Echo Chamber Finger Waggers, those folks who insist that any time you eliminate a person from your life based on their {fill in the blank} views, you are simply creating a space in which your own biases reflect back to you and therefore you don’t challenge yourself, don’t move out of your comfort zone, don’t take the time to see alternate points, etc.

Closely related to ECFW’s are the Never Ever Delete-ers, people who hold onto every single connection they’ve ever made because they think it makes them a better person to rise above the din . . . and they don’t fail to make you aware of this superiority at every opportunity.

Here’s how I see it: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other tool you choose to engage with should be your happy place.  When you log on in the morning, you should be greeted by good friends, trustworthy news sources, and adorable cat photos. It absolutely should not stress you out. And if it does, you have the power to fix that. Guilt not required.

Personally I tend to fall more in line with the “unfriend immediately” option. I admit it: I simply delete people when I don’t like seeing their posts in my feed anymore. You can surmise whatever you will about my personality from this information, but it is what it is. I don’t have the time or energy to include people in my life that aren’t uplifting, encouraging, or at least not pulling me down with them. If I would not want this person’s words repeated around my kids, they probably get booted.

Of course, we will always have people in our lives with whom we clash on some level. No one has a perfectly concocted circle of yes men or yes women. Not surprising, there are still people {in my real and online world} with whom I disagree on various issues. Most of my family and friends are Christians, and share lots of “inspirational” and “thoughts and prayers” posts that I generally just scroll past. I have acquaintances who practice varying degrees of woo woo. Shares and likes still pop up that gives me pause. And I’m sure that many of the posts and photos I “like” that show up in my friends’ feeds make them roll their eyes occasionally.

But there’s a difference between eye-roll worthy and cringeworthy. People can and do cross that line. My social media connections who espouse racist, sexist, misogynist, and homophobic views generally don’t last long. If you are the type of person who would post cruel memes diminishing the humanity of refugees or immigrants {true story} I probably don’t want you in my life. I’ve cut off extended family members who posted rants about why it was “okay” that unarmed men were shot and killed because “they hadn’t been saints, look at all this bad stuff they did.” I’ve deleted friends who used photos of their own dead baby to champion their anti-abortion agenda. Even if at one point I valued a relationship with a particular person, situations exist where I just cannot even anymore.

I do experience a touch of cognitive dissonance when it comes to certain issues. The best example of this in my own life is immunization. I am very pro-vaccine. I share all the pro-vaccination articles and memes. I get irate at the very thought of religious and personal exemptions. Yet . . . I have someone in my life I consider a good friend who does not vaccinate her children, for reasons I am not privy to. This makes me feel a wee bit fuzzy about the whole thing. I recognize, however, that I have the privilege of not “worrying” about this, or the time we spend together, because my own children are fully vaccinated and have healthy immune systems. I don’t judge her personally at all. It’s complicated.

One final note: Believe it or not, everything shared on social media is not offered up for debate. In fact, not everything should be debated. Every issue does not have two equally valid points of view. {Flat Earth Society, anyone?} Sharing a post or a meme does not automatically imply “I wish to argue about and defend this” or “I agree with this 100%.” It might just mean “I find this interesting” or “someone else might be able to utilize this information.”

Bottom line: You and you alone have the freedom to choose who you include in your life, virtual or otherwise. Call it self-care or self-preservation if you must label it, but truly you have no responsibility to explain your actions.

So, if you decide you could do without a nonreligious homeschooling mother of three who posts random musings about her life and too many pictures of her offspring, so be it. I am totally not offended if you “delete” me from your online life. Whether that means this page, or my personal profile, I have zero control of what you find acceptable. Nor should I.

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