De-friended

politics

The presidential election last year revealed many negative aspect of social media. Never before had I witnessed such harassment and vitriol displayed online (and many of these folks claimed to be followers of Christ!). Being an avid user/lover of all things social media, I became disheartened in how it was being used as a tool to fight, judge and harass. This led me into a depression, with feelings of sadness and hopelessness. I had already been fighting this nagging feeling that I wasn’t valued and that I had no purpose, and then something else happened:

I began to see friends in my real life delete me on social media sites. (Presumably because we differed politically).

I saw other “real world” friends fight on Facebook and then delete each other.

And as any normal person might feel, I felt the singe of pain and hurt. I began to negatively over-analyze the situation and wonder to myself, “What did I do to deserve this? How did I hurt this person so badly, that they felt they needed to delete me?” When I would see these friends in public or at church, it felt as if our encounters were awkward. I struggled with what I should do next. Should I confront them and have a dialogue? Just pray about it ? Let it go? As the questions and frustrations built up, I decided to seek out counsel before making any hasty decisions.

To my surprise, my good friend and accountability partner Katie gave dispelled some sage-like wisdom regarding her take on the social media debacle:

“Just because I “defriend” you on Facebook does not mean that I defriend you in life. ” 

That really stuck with me. Maybe we place too much emphasis as a culture on what happens online. Perhaps we need to cling to Luke 6:27-29 when he says,

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.”

He goes on to say in verse 36,

“You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

So, maybe there was some drama on Facebook and it upset you. Maybe you were de-friended. Blocked. Whatever. God’s word is clear – whether hurt or not, we must show compassion and love to all.

Your first step is to forgive the person for the hurt caused to you. But  should I do anything beyond that?? My suggestion? Pray about what God wants you to do – whether it be to confront the person about the online issue or not. He will make it very evident to you.

forgive

Some social media etiquette suggestions:

  • If there is something you want to post and you’re not sure if it is appropriate to post online, then DON’T.
  • When posting on something that evokes debate, consider editing it before posting it. If you don’t want to start a debate on someone’s status, but still want to share your opinion, I highly suggest personally messaging that individual.

Comments

  1. This post hits home for me. People really lash out on Facebook and it has kept me from posting on their regularly.
    But this post also hits another spot for me, I am dealing with a situation where I was betrayed by my best friend and I am extremly hurt by her. I know that I need to forgive her and move forward but the wound is still fresh. Thank you for reminding me that I do need to forgive to move forward.

    • Missy, I can totally relate. While we should forgive, I totally think boundaries are needed when it comes to hurt feelings and relationships. I don’t think you should feel rushed to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. Just keep in prayer and God will let you know if you need to do anything! 🙂

  2. Wonderful post, Carrie! I think the initial reaction is to feel hurt and etc… but I think you recovered well and bounced back! I also love your suggestions. I think when we post things, although I love the freedom of writing whatever I want, I also know that my post could hinder someone if there’s some kind of conflict involved. And that’s definitely not something I want to do. Thanks for this post!

  3. I can’t tell you how many of my friends told me during the election, “You should be so glad you don’t have a facebook account right now. People are being stupid” (and they meant it on both “sides” of the issue!). I get really upset when I see stupidity and name calling because even though I am a Christian and stand firm on God’s truth, I am also a Democrat and believe strongly in social issues, so I really do understand both sides. It drives me crazy to see people sink so low that they’re calling other people or other groups of people names, questioning their intelligence, and basically devaluing their entire worth because of a political stance.

    But even more than that, I feel like I need to disagree a little with your friend Kate. If someone unfriends you on a social media platform, I think one of two things: one, you probably weren’t that close of friends in real life to begin with and your social media posts just made them realize you weren’t Anne and Diana. That’s okay and I have done it with a clear conscience.

    But when you are really good friends with someone, I’m going to hedge my bets that they’re aware of your beliefs (election season or otherwise). For instance, I have a very, very good friend who knew me when I was still living a very wordly lifestyle and was even more liberal than I am now — and her posts would drive me crazy and vice versa. We were no surprise to each other. When someone unfriends you because of something like that, it does, sadly, feel like they are unfriending you in the real life. Whether it’s because of the emphasis we have put on the whole idea of “friending” and naming our friends, a defriending on FB seems as though you’ve lost that person in reality, especially when who you are is known to them and your belief system is already known to them. That seems so much more intentional and honestly, kind of cruel. That disagreement creates a lot of room for dialogue and I hate that people see the way to solve “friend” problems is to just take the “friend” out of the equation.

    That said, I think the bigger issue here is really how we look at social media — there is way, way too much emphasis and value put on having those “friends” in the first place! I deleted my facebook account almost six months ago and while there are certain things that are hard about it (I miss the pictures of my far-away friends’ kids!), I do not miss the way it basically makes every day life like a junior high school locker room, full of gossip and backstabbing and mean, ugly, underhanded name-calling.

    • Krista, I agree. I think regarding the folks that deleted me that I wasn’t that close with, I was able take Katie’s advice in stride. It was when family or close friends did so that I felt sincere pain and sadness. With those folks, I did take the time to investigate and offer apologies when needed and offered forgiveness to them. While our relationships aren’t perfect, I feel it is my responsibility to keep pressing on and to offer love and kindness, even if it isn’t returned back to me.

      I did notice a similar situation between two church friends, and they did end of making amends at church, which made me very glad. I think if we all just took Facebook LESS seriously and guarded our words more, we might see less of these issues online. 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing! I appreciate your insight! 🙂 🙂

  4. There is so much truth here. I’ve been wanting to write a similar post, as it seems so many people think that just plain old walking away from a relationship is the only (or the best) way to deal with broken friendships. Thank you for the reminder that there has to ALWAYS be forgiveness – whether you then reconcile, or walk away. Forgiveness must be there!

    • Thanks Amanda. I have learned this the hard way, sadly. I have had family, close friends, church friends, etc delete me in various social media platforms. I have had the opportunity to forgive, and in some cases, reconcile. It has been freeing. 🙂

  5. anlundstrom says:

    This is such an important thing to remember, that forgiveness is the answer and not giving up. I like that you suggest at the end to forgive and then pray about what to do next. I think sometimes I am thinking “I will forgive her but then just ignore her in the future” which may sometimes be okay depending on the friendship, but I need to seek God’s guidance in this.

  6. Definitely been through my share of this. I try not to let it bother me when people “defriend” me, but it really does make me wonder WHAT I did to make them want to remove me in the first place. I love the point that your friend made – just because you defriend someone online, does not mean you are defriending them in real life.

    I have to be honest, I am on the other side of this a lot. I remove people that continually put up disgraceful images, rude comments, cussing, etc. I am responsible for what I allow in my mind – and just some of the stuff out there is so negative and it can rub off on me! But, I don’t defriend them in “real life,” if that makes sense? Because some of those people are family! I just think we NEED to be better at filtering our lives online, ya know? I don’t know, I’m still struggling through it (if you can’t tell) because I want to offer grace – but I don’t think it’s helping anyone that I see another half-naked picture or read another f-word. I just can only take so much.

    I don’t think you’re talking that extreme, but thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    • I totally understand. I hide folks often for the same reasons you mentioned….but when folks I love and care about do this, it just confuses me. I’m sure ill understand it all by and by!

Trackbacks

  1. […] precious & loved family members, to loss of friendships, to church friends and other friends de-friending me on facebook.…I have learned well what it means experience a loss of relationship. Some of these have been […]

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