An Open Letter To Those I've "Left"

Today, I’m down to 175 friends – from about twice that much – on facebook.

Let me talk about that with you for a bit; you should be able to read this since I’ve made this a public note.

Let’s start with the first, most important thing: I am not doing this because I dislike you. For anyone that I’ve ever had an issue with, you should know that I’m a very big fan of either the inbox, the phone, or a personal meetup to discuss issues.

There are only a couple of reasons that I have for defriending people en masse, but the most important one is this: exercising filters. As I said in the other note I wrote, Facebook is not the definition of our friendship together anyway.

“Well, if that’s true, then why are you defriending people?”

Glad you asked. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons together:

  • We’ve not communicating. I don’t mean in a week or two, but in a month or two… or a year or two… or a few years. Not about one substantive thing. Maybe a movie, or work, or someone you met at the bar last night or some new video game you bought. Now, this is a touchy subject. There aren’t any specific rules for how long someone would have to go without speaking to have me defriend them and I won’t make any because it isn’t necessary as it all comes from the next point.
  • We’re disconnected. No matter how many times you’ve pushed the like button, or commented something, or left a smiley face or posted a youtube video that we enjoy, there is no substance to our conversation. No thread between the two of us. This point will run a bit long, but try to follow. Let’s consider Christie Shanafelt. We don’t talk often — very rarely in fact — but when we share things, they’re usually pretty substantive and encouraging to me. That’s a keeper. Then there’s friends like Michelle Mullins, she writes me pretty often and the posts are encouraging, funny and substantive. That’s worth keeping. There are some people that are like Gary Arnold, he’s a mile-a-minute with all manner of silliness, but he manages to post some pure gold sometimes. That’s also good. It creates connection. Mind you, I’ve had connections with these people outside of facebook that gives us context inside of facebook to talk and share and laugh. I also have more recent friends like Andie Spurlock that I met this past weekend that I think are worth keeping for now so we can get to know each other better. Another thing is that I talk to these people via facebook more than other means (phone, e-mail, letters, and so on).

So in sum, it’s either that we’re not talking or we’re not talking about anything worthwhile ever. That might be okay for some; it’s easy to “collect” people out of habit and the connections that we’ve formed with people from the past have shaped us into who we are. That’s hard to let go of. I have a friend from high school on facebook and we’re still good friends.

I defriended him from Facebook last month, though. We weren’t connecting here.

I could have tried to keep him on the list and figure out a way to force our friendship into some kind of form adapted to something like Facebook, but our friendship doesn’t work that way. We text. We talk on the phone. We visit each other. That’s what works for us and that is fine. Awesome, even. It is important that you know how your connections work and do that. Simply having someone on your friends’ list on Facebook does not make them your friend.

If it did, you wouldn’t be avoiding people on it.

Don’t you think you deserve that much, though?

Shouldn’t you be ecstatic to read your news feed?

Shouldn’t you be able to smile more than you furrow your eyebrows when you see your friend’s statuses?

Shouldn’t you be able to walk away from your monitor and not be depressed?

That leaves us with talking about what defriending you doesn’t mean, because that is important.

  • I do not hate or dislike you. Unless I have stated otherwise, I don’t dislike you. Facebook simply doesn’t do anything for us. Nothing wrong with admitting that and moving along. Nothing whatsoever. I may have friended you last week and seen enough in that week to know that facebook and us do not mix. Defriend button clicked. Maybe things are changing in your life and facebook isn’t the way we connect anymore. That’s fine. Defriend button clicked. No harm done. Just give me a call or write me an email and we’re all good.
  • I still want to talk to you. If facebook is your medium of choice, inbox me. I’m fine with that. I have an email address on my profile. If you can’t see it, you can email me at That’s a generic address. If you have other email addresses for me, then use those. That’s fine, too. If you have my phone number, then text me. Call me. If I don’t pick up, please leave a message. Social media is not the beginning or end of love or friendship unless you allow it to be.
  • Our relationship is still important to me. I don’t use Facebook as a badge of friendship. It is just a social media platform so we can write texts and send pictures and link to things on the internet. That is all. It does not have a mind, a heart, a soul or feelings. You do. I do. Our desire to communicate should reflect that. If you don’t want to talk to me or anyone else solely because they defriended you from facebook, then you are not friends with this person. If you have other reasons, talk them out and get things resolved.

That’s my life right now. Keeping that which is gold on all of the channels available to me. Sometimes, that’s just not facebook. That is ok. More than ok. Fine, actually. That said, some of you are so tethered to things like this, that it will be hard for you to feel like I haven’t abandoned you. For this, I ask your forgiveness as I move forward.

For those who may be reading this and want to talk to me outside of facebook, twitter, and/or google+, you can find info on my profile page. If not, comment this note and I’ll share accordingly.



4 responses to “An Open Letter To Those I've "Left"”

  1. Thanks for the comment and feel free to quote.

    It troubles me that people go into spirals of depression thinking that relationships end because one communication channel is gone.

  2. I absolutely love this entry and agree wholeheartedly. One of the reasons I got off Facebook is because people had such a hard time accepting when I’d defriend them. It wasn’t anything personal but I didn’t see a need to have friends for numbers. That’s never been my personality and it isn’t about to start now. I just wish people had an easier time not taking it personally.

    On another note – thank you for, once again, writing with substance and truth. 🙂 I love it!

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