Updated: Jun 24, 2021
It's late, you've had one too many, and the chat turns to the demon ex. You're interested, how pitifully has their life has turned out since they lost/binned you. You innocently scroll your list of friends on Facebook, then Instagram. Surely this can not be? You're no longer connected to this person. You've been socially culled.
This type of snub use to cause me irritation at best, anxiety and sadness at worse. That was before I did a cull of my own and realised that cutting the chafe can be a cleansing, even empowering experience for all sorts of reasons.
Be honest, how many of us really believe that we are true mates with the entire gaggle of names making up our 'friends' on social media? 1000+ followers simply can not equal 1000+ friends. For the most part, I find it hard enough to like my own family, let alone plead affection for half the Karens I once met at the office Xmas party. Yet these people inexplicably ended up nestling between my brother and oldest friend, clogging up my timeline with snaps of their babies, holidays and political gripes. In truth, I had been looking at their photos and taking time to comment on things I simply should not care about.
Did I really need this type of distraction in my life, and more importantly, why on earth should I care if they have tired of my lurking presence in theirs? Do these people form a legitimate army of loyal supporters, a true social network? Or, and I fear this is true; Are these minions we keep in toe merely an ego buffer, spawn to parade our new Louboutins, car, job, lover or, more bizarrely intimate details from our latest breakup, breakdown, and baby?
I decided to play a game with some friends. Real, fleshy, hug me if I need it, wine drinking friends. We agreed to let each other pick people at random from our Facebook friends list. If we couldn't name the person, or at least where we knew this person, they would be cut. Others destined for obscurity were people we had never exchanged a kind word with, those who'd done us wrong and those we secretly resented. You know the ones. The ones whose holiday photos you scrutinise, praying for a glimmer of cellulite or a bad hair day, which of course never comes because Facetune was invented to make us all feel comparatively lacking.
It was empowering to begin with. Bye Bye Helen, God, I hated her at school. Janet Someone I'd met over a spliff 15 years ago at Reading festival. A slurry of ex-boyfriends, childhood bullies, fitness influencers who serve me nothing but guilt and unhealthy envy in spades. Then came the harder calls. People who had once added to my life, but embarrass me frequently, drink too much, cry on every night out, resent my success, and vocalise it at will. People I had outgrown or grown to dislike, not for huge life-changing reasons but because they had irritating habits, refused to come anywhere without their husband, or worse, children. Few were safe from the click of my keyboard cut.
When I lifted my head from my frenzy and looked at what was left, my' friends' list was growing slim, but it wasn't a pitiful puddle of a few. Gone was all traces of the toxicity that many of us blame the likes of Instagram and Facebook for breeding. In its place was something extraordinary; a pool of fabulous people, each one I liked, respected and wanted in my life.
Fancy giving your own social following a ruthless trim? I hope you enjoy cutting negativity out of social media and keep it for sharing the love between you and your loved ones. Let me know how you get on. Happy snipping!