The Delete Culture
Social media isn’t really that social sometimes. When you do a quick google search of the word “social” you get words like, allies, friends, positive relations. If you were to look at the word itself I’d say it’s a pretty positive word. However add the word media to it…social media is definitely not always positive. The communication through social media has given us the ability to behave dismissively towards others and their opinions, thoughts and feelings. This dismissive behvaiour has led to what I like to call the ‘delete culture’.
This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately and it is something that I feel compelled to write about. Bob Dylan was right when he sang “the times they are a changin’”. In all honesty, when I grew up social media was non-existent. As a child of the 80’s, there wasn’t even the notion of the internet in our homes, let alone Instagram or Facebook. The social media era is so fascinating to me because I truly feel that it is fundamentally changing the way we interact with each other. Some of these changes are more positive, while others are definitely more negative.
One of the most negative aspects of social media communication that I have personally experienced is what I have referred to already as the ‘delete culture’. Case in point…. let’s say you have a disagreement with a friend or family member. Instead of actually having a face to face conversation or even a phone call about it… things get heated via text or messenger and before you know it, you’ve been deleted and maybe even…gasp...blocked. You are left wondering ‘what the hell just happened’ and you now feel as though there is a missed opportunity to even continue the conversation/discussion/argument let alone settle it.
Now what would have happened prior to social media?
Well let’s think back. In the past, this would have likely taken place in person or over the phone and you would have either walked away from the person or hung up on them. Perhaps you would have vented and stewed about it for a while, then ultimately you would have spoken to them and made amends, or potentially you would have come to the conclusion that the relationship needed to end anyways. Regardless, there would have been some form of discussion and closure for both sides.
Now back to present day and the era of social media.
You let things settle and finally decide to reach out again only to find out you have been deleted from their “life”. And let’s be honest when you have been deleted or blocked from someone’s social media you have basically been deleted from their life. They clearly don’t want to continue the ‘conversation’ and they have decided that they are done with you. Ugh…what a punch right to the gut. But that’s the point isn’t it? To truly hurt the other person?
Why do we do this to each other? I believe it’s because generally speaking, people don’t like confrontation and following the initial argument, they want to avoid further confrontation. People also don't like owning their part in the confrontation. What led up to the argument in the first place? Do they want to own their actions? A lot of people don't so, the easiest way for certain people to deal with the conflict is to not deal with it at all and so the delete/unfriend/unfollow button gets hit, and that’s that.
Where does this really get us through? In my opinion, conflict and confrontation are necessary evils in life. Is arguing fun? Absolutely not. If you are feeling upset or slighted by something and you can’t tell your friend or family about it, who can you tell? Are we not supposed to argue and work through our issues and hopefully come out the other side stronger and more connected? The truth hurts, but guess what the truth also heals. You can’t move forward without honesty and sometimes that honesty can really hurt but the hurt will heal with time and the end goal is to have a deeper connection. A truly better understanding of your relationship and where you stand, maybe reevaluating boundaries and expectations.
A more simple reason for the delete button so easily being hit, is maybe you really weren’t that important to them in the first place? If that’s the case, I would recommend you move on. You should never beg someone to love and support you. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people and let the rest go.
Now here’s the interesting part. After reading this blog post if you are close to me you might speculate who this is about, and wonder what the hell happened? Truth be told it isn’t about anyone specifically, it’s just something I have experienced in the past and I wanted to put my feelings on the topic out there.
If you think this post is about you…oh wait you wouldn’t be reading it you deleted me. Ha!
In all seriousness though I am not pointing the finger at anyone, because remember that old saying, when you point one finger out, you have three more pointing right back at you. And guess what, here’s the real TSN turning point, I am 100% guilty of doing this exact same thing.
I am on a journey of self-improvement and I know that I can have a quick temper, and it is something I am truly working on. I also know with that quick temper, I am quick to apologize. I know when I’m wrong and it may take me a day or two…or a month or two…but I will apologize for my part in an argument.
I’m not perfect and when I was in my twenties I didn’t just delete one friend, I deleted many. The short version of these events are that these friends often drove directly by my house visiting other friends and didn’t feel the need to ever stop in to visit with me. These same friends did expect me to drive hours to see them. It was a one sided friendship and honestly it hurt my feelings. I would often ask why they didn’t stop in but they never really gave me a great answer. One day I saw on Facebook they were once again in my neighbourhood and they never told me. Do you think I called or text and told them how much it really hurt my feelings? Did I do the adult thing and have a one to one conversation about what I hoped our friendship would look like in the years following our closeness in University? Absolutely not. Quick to temper remember? I had enough of these one sided friendships and I cut the cord.
Delete. Delete. Delete.
After that I thought that they would have reached out to say “Hey what is going on I saw you deleted me off Facebook?” A part of me hoped they would reach out and then I could tell them my real feelings, we would have that uncomfortable but necessary confrontation, I would apologize, they would apologize and we would move on with a deeper understanding of each other.
Not one of them called or reached out. Not one.
What did I learn from this? Well first that these friends clearly didn’t’ give a shit about me. No I’m kidding! What I learnt was that I should have had a real conversation with them and if they were really good friends they would have made the effort and if they weren’t things would have likely faded out naturally and that would have been that. I obviously helped that fade out happen a lot quicker with my deleting actions.
Do I regret deleting friends whilst avoiding a human-to-human conversation? Yes. That is why I share my very personal experience with you. I encourage you to learn from my mistake. If you get into an argument don’t let your ego take-over and impetuously hit that delete button. Take the high road, toss your ego aside, go old-school and actually have a real conversation…in person….human-to-human.