27 May, 2012

is 'unfriending' on social media lists anti-social?

it's that time of the year to, once again, take a hard look at one's relationships online...a stock-taking of sorts!

this...is your life!
time to spring clean my FB/Twitter/G+/Blogger/Pintrest/Instagram friends list...in fact, though i say that it is that time of the year in my opening line, this would actually be the first time ever i’d be doing it, having avoided it all these years (or months, for some services), afraid of what the people i ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ (should we even be putting these words in inverted quotes at all, since they have become so mainstream?) will think

what's the point?
but then, what is the point in having someone on your list who you have neither spoken to or met or interacted with in any form for a reasonable period of time? what is the point in subscribing to people whose views you no longer subscribe to? what is the point keeping on your list someone who has no interest in your life or someone whose life you have no interest in? what is the point having someone getting a glimpse of your intimate, private thoughts and goings-on, when that someone does not share theirs with you? what is the point in keeping people one is so out of touch with (or who are out of touch with you) that they neither respond to your posts nor your comments on theirs? what is the point keeping relatives on your FB when many of them neither want to nor can use FB, nor even understand what it means, and tend to over-react to things that are considered just normal online (and offline, in most cases)?

and if these people fall into any or all of the above categories, why should they take offence at being ‘unfriended’ or ‘unfollowed’? will they even know they are no longer connected to me within the next, say 3 months even? it is not as if i hold a personal grudge against them, but it is just that there is no connect on some or all social media anymore and it is better we (not only me, but them too) trim our lists to reflect our active connections, interests and interactions, isn’t it?

please come
not clear? let me give you an analogy: if i were having a party next friday and i invited, say 30 of my closest buddies to it. when the word got around, some others approached me and asked if they could come, so i invited them too, and then some more asked for an invite and they got one, bloating the invitee list to 300

hey! thanks for the party
come friday, and i see only 20 of the original invitees and 50 of the others actually trudging all the way to my house, making an effort to dress, arrive on time, carry a gift, mingle, enjoy themselves, eat, drink & make merry, and send me a polite thank you note the next morning. and then, out of these 75, only 60 keep in touch or invite me back to their parties. now, this happens every time. every friday, i have a party. every week, i invite the 300. every time, only 70-80 come, and only 50-odd ever invite me back. after say, 3 years of doing this, would you not rather stop inviting those who persistently refuse or cannot find time or interest to come or invite you back? and if you did ‘uninvite’ them, is there any reason they’d take offence?

wherefore goest thou?
so, there you are. if i ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ you, it is not the same as ‘unliking’ you or hating you. it does not mean i want to end whatever relationship we have as friends or relatives or acquaintances or business associates or colleagues or classmates. it does not mean i do not care about you at all. it does not mean i have no interest in your life any more. and it definitely does not mean we have no relationship offline. please feel free to remove me from your lists if you feel the same…and why not? the point in social media is that it is highly (publicly and instantly) reciprocal, and i have no problems with that. why should i? after all, i chose to come online and i choose to use it or ignore it. no one promised me a fair life, as no one did to you too, my friend!