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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Editorial: Clinging to the past is dangerous, self-defeating

When our generation signed up for Facebook many moons ago, it was hard to conceive of a social life past our K-12 upbringings. Surely every kid who came to our bar and bat mitzvahs would still be our dawgs, right? Those dudes you took selfies with in the Apple Store for your MySpace profile picture? Best friends for life. That girl you met at the food court that one time after you and your boys stocked up on Panda Express? If only you had gone to the same school and seen more of each other, there really could have been something special there!

Our Facebook friend list reads like the detritus of every social interaction we’ve had over the last seven-odd years (that is assuming like most of us, you signed up circa 2008). Every drunken add, every cute girl or guy at "that" party, every person you promised you’d someday hang out with — they’re all there, living their lives and constantly reminding you of casual interactions and days of social bliss long-since passed. If we like them — or at the least find their antics as well as trials and tribulations amusing — we keep ‘em around, invested in their personal narrative in this grand thing we call life. If they’re the type that shares Minion memes or whose sense of humor is guided by low resolution image macros, we cast them out, hopefully to never be thought of again.

But how do we navigate the social media posts of those who were once important? We all have friends we fell out with, people who broke our hearts or people who were once close but turned out to be bigoted jerks. In an age where friendships exist in perpetuity on the Internet, what IS the etiquette for navigating defunct friendships on social media?

As far as Facebook goes, the two main options are unfollowing and deleting. Deleting, the most permanent of declarations, casts that person into obscurity, out of mind and out of sight. In contrast, unfollowing allows that person to stick around, only without reminding you they exist on a daily basis in your feed.

It is the opinion of this office that deleting, as reluctant as one might be to do, is the best option. Loss — although that may be too strong a word for this scenario — is an unavoidable and consistently reliable part of human existence. Our forebears dealt with it, and our generation seems to stave it off at all costs.

It’s part of the reason culture of the last 60 years is happening all at once (an editorial for another time), and it’s most certainly why we torture ourselves by not possessing the fortitude to unfriend. Imagine your dad lurking his high school sweetheart on Facebook: It’s gross and inappropriate, right? Now understand that in keeping those people around, that’s the future you’re creating for yourself 20 years down the line.

Shape up, empty your emotional baggage and go on a Facebook cleaning spree.

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