So, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media but especially Facebook. I’ve learned that it’s impossible to be friends with everyone you know in real life. I have a hard rule of not adding supervisors or managers onto social media. That always seems to bite you in the ass. At my last job, I had everyone on my friends list.
When I went on medical leave, I started removing colleagues that I had no interest in staying in touch with. I kept in touch with a few that are still friends today. But my friend’s list is at a bare minimum now. All 132 friends.
Another rule I have is that I have to know the people in real life. So, it’s mostly family, close friends or people I’ve worked in the past. I’ve made exceptions over the years when we’ve had mutual friends. I would say perhaps 10 people out of my entire friend’s list I haven’t met in person. But we’ve been online friends forever that it feels like I know them. One of my closest friends is someone I met while traveling one summer. She’s from Germany and we talk often.
Facebook is great for one reason and one reason only. To keep in touch with family and friends overseas. Twitter – I use that for networking, promotions and making contacts. I have a pretty decent following there. Nearly 1800 and most are from my city. I’ve actually made some pretty great online friends during the pandemic that I “chat” with daily.
By chatting, I mean – we exchange comments and shits and giggles on each other’s statuses. I stay out of the politics of Twitter and so for me, it’s a good time. Yes, social media in general be toxic.
The pandemic has made it tough to socialize and hangout with friends. It’s been even harder to make new friends. So, when I made the decision to move to the southside – I looked for some community groups on Facebook. And low and behold – I found a small community group for people who live in my building, and the buildings around it. Since most of them are run by the same company.
This is great, I thought to myself. Now I can keep up to date with community news and make a friend or two. Well, that didn’t happen because we’re now in another “lockdown” for the third wave.
I joined the group and posted a question about the area. I wanted to learn as much as possible. Many people responded – mostly female. One guy, close to my age responded. Like FIVE times with messages. He seemed eager to make a new friend. And seemed nice enough.
He sent me some private messages and I responded with questions I had about the area which he answered. Then I made the mistake of adding him as a friend. And things went downhill super fast. It was instant regret.
I ended our first chat with, “Thanks so much, I have to go now. I don’t usually use this chat very often,” (I really don’t), “chat later.”
I walked away to go make dinner. Came back to SEVEN long winded messages from him. Okay, I understand the guy is lonely. I reminded him again the next day after he left several comments on one of posts – I said, “Thank you, but I’m not really interested in meeting someone new at this time. With the pandemic, I am home a lot. I do not use this chat often.”
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I had to mute the guy. Every time I posted a photograph – because I’m getting back into photography – I would see a message pop up from him. Now most normal would just love a picture, leave a comment and then move on. That’s what social media is. Right? Not this guy.
Every time he message, he would also say, “we can meet up and get our cameras out” or “I’d love to show you around the neighbourhood” or something to that effect.
Again, I politely and firmly told him “No, I’m not interested in meeting anyone new at this time.” But he just would not stop.
Fast forward to yesterday.
I was having a terrible day yesterday. I lost someone close to me. I’m writing this in a hurry as the funeral is in less than an hour online. I’ve struggled with it. I shared the post about the funeral on Facebook, as a few friends were from work and had known Harriet.
“I’m shutting off the world today (and chat) after learning a good friend has died. It’s been a hard year. I’ve lost too many friends. And I just need some downtime from social media.”
Of course he’s the first one to leave a comment. I walk away from the phone. Have some lunch. I went and had a bath and cried my eyes out for what seemed like forever. And finally come back to the computer.
FOUR messages from the guy. FOUR.
At this point, I knew I had do something. But what? How could I walk away from this without being the bitch?
- If I continued to ignore his messages, I’m the bitch.
- If I told him to drop dead, I’m the bitch.
- If I unfriended him without an explanation, I’m the bitch.
- If I blocked him, I’m a bigger bitch.
It’s one of those “you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” scenarios. And so in the end, I wound up silently removing him as a friend.
I’m almost scared to check my inbox. I’ve had to because of the funeral and people wanting to know details. Harriet was one of the kindest people to me at work. We really bonded quickly and loved each other.
I wasn’t in the head space to listen to this guy go on and on about his feelings. A guy I’ve never met and had no interest in.
And so, I did the unspeakable thing and I unfriended him. And I don’t feel guilty about it.
This problem isn’t just guy specific. Women do it too. What I want to know is WHY.
Setting boundaries in a new friendship or relationship is a healthy thing to do. If a person doesn’t respect those boundaries – they will often form an unhealthy attachment to you. I know this. I used to be this person until I finally realized how unhealthy it was for me.
Sometimes – you just gotta do what’s best for your own mental health.
So, I unblocked him as lately I’ve been struggling with guilt. It’s my own issue. I sent a message saying, “I’m sorry but this isn’t working for me. You seem really nice and friendly. I only added you because I wanted to learn more about the area I just moved to. I told you off the bat that I wasn’t much of a chatter and don’t use chat often. Boundaries are healthy to set – especially when it’s someone you don’t know. We haven’t even met yet and I find your long messages to be extremely overwhelming – especially when I’ve told you, I’m not looking for chat right now. Best of luck -take care.”
“I was just reaching out to make sure you were OK and to offer my condolences and sympathies. I’m sorry that all you got out of that was a long post instead of a nice gesture from a friend who cares.” Friend? I haven’t even met him in real life!!!!! “I was not trying to start up a chat just making sure you were all right. I’m sorry if you feel over whelmed. I even located some stones and rocks that you were looking for and were going to send them to you. Oh well. Best of luck.”
So, what’s wrong with this? A lot – I’ll tell you what therapy has taught me.
“I was going to send you…..oh well.” – this is passive aggressive. It’s also a tactic abusers use to guilt people into staying with them. I never asked him for this. I don’t even know the guy. And yet he’s using this to try and get me to stay.
“I’m sorry that all you got out of that was a long post” — another guilt trip. When I said his long messages were over whelming – I wasn’t referring to the last message about grief. ALL his messages were unwelcomed and overwhelmingly long. I often read them and had no idea what to even respond with. So I wound up muting him. But he kept messaging again, and again. I could share pages of screenshots from this guy.
THAT I HAVEN’T EVEN MET YET!
I’ll say it again. Setting healthy boundaries early on in a new relationship is a good thing to do. If the person ignores those boundaries – they don’t respect you. If they continue to guilt you into being their friend – they will form unhealthy attachments to you.
There is NO win here. In the end, you’re going to be the asshole who blocked the guy who was trying to be nice.