I Unfriended Them

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Last week, I had to make a tough decision; to unfriend network and other connections on my personal Facebook. I didn’t want 380 something people knowing what I had for dinner, where I am hiking, or seeing my personal photos. Because I learned much from their connections, I encouraged those friends I intended to unfriend to “like” my author page.

It’s not a personal slap in the face. It’s practical. While Facebook has a way to merge a personal Facebook profile into a page, that action would sever me from groups that I admin, and I would not be able to comment or like on my friends profiles as a page. It would have defeated the whole purpose of having a personal Facebook page. I already have many social networks in which to talk to new connections, new friends, etc. My personal Facebook was meant to only communicate with family and those I considered friends.

What I mean by “friend” is someone I’ve met in real life, go to church with, been in Bible Study with, who has interacted more than once with my statuses in the last 60 days, and some writers in my writers groups and people I’ve met at Writer’s Conferences. A friend takes an interest in their friend’s lives. It’s not just about me as Facebook has become and privacy is almost an alien thought nowadays. We all want to be known, but it’s not wise to invite every person who sends a friend request. Scary people exist in the world whose intentions aren’t sincere. Soon after severing ties, a friend request came from someone I didn’t know, perhaps an extended family member of a branch that I am unaware of. But that’s where I draw the line, too.

When I found my father in 2008, I also discovered a lot of immediate family and those I didn’t mind having on my Facebook. We’ve either talked on the phone or interacted since then in a consistent manner. Any friend of the family I haven’t met in person or extended family I haven’t met is more than welcome to like my author page or follow me on twitter, but not on my personal profile. My personal profile is for people I actually know. I even deleted some church members who haven’t interacted with me in real life or online in quite some time, keeping those I know who have admitted to being “stalkers.” They like to read people’s statuses, but don’t interact. In my unfriending frenzy, I deleted some network people who have become friends. I had to re-friend them which confused them a little and like I said, it was a tough decision. Even people I have met in real life, but no longer interact with me in real life or online became unfriended.

Healthy boundaries should exist in the online world. That’s why we have fan pages or groups on Facebook. On my personal Facebook, I want to share my adventures with family and friends, people who may someday hike those slopes of Mount Humphreys with me or make time to have coffee with me in real life. Not everyone will understand.

Be assured that I will not neglect you, my readers. I love to interact with people online and would love it if you followed me here on twitter and/or “liked” my Facebook page. There’s a lot we can learn from each other. That’s why I encourage discussion, too, on my blogs even when there are no discussion question at the end of a piece. I hope that you understand my desire for privacy.

How have you kept your private life apart from your public life?