Managing friends and facebook

Going through a divorce opens your eyes to who your friends are. In fact going through any particularly tough time in life soon weeds out the true friends.

Friends who stick by you through the good, the bad and ugly are keepers. Those that hand around while the going is good and run like crazy when things start going downhill, are in my opinion no loss.

Three years ago I had the opportunity of starting over, I was in control of who I let into my life and who I excluded. This sounds relatively easy to do but it isn’t. Well maybe not for someone like me who is hugely sentimental and struggle with letting go. I was married for 18 years and had friends from my pre-marriage days who had now become ‘our’ friends and friends that were made during our marriage and then friends or acquaintances that were just friends with me and not my spouse.

I was faced with a dilemma, how do I separate them and move on without hurting people. For anyone who knows me the one thing I hate doing is upsetting people and being rude, intolerant and nasty. So it was a huge heart ache for me to cut ties with people but I knew I needed to do this in order to move on and cope with all the changes.

The first thing I did was look long and hard at my circle of existing friends. I identified a handful of people who were not judgemental but supportive and naturally they became my small circle of confidants. The next step which was extremely difficult was to wade through my facebook friends. Most people have a few hundred friends some thousands. I had over 300 friends and I went through each friend on my list and made the decision to keep or remove. It is simple and requires your selecting the “remove Friend” button, but actually removing that friend emotionally is hard. The first day I managed to remove 100 friends, these were more acquaintances, people I knew through others and did not see or have much to do with. That was relatively easy. Then during the course of the next week I sat and went through my remaining friends list and looked at each person based on a list of criteria. This sounds harsh but trust me it was the only way I could do this. I rated them on the following criteria:

  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. Are they still friends with me so that they can hear the gossip of my divorce?
  3. Have they had any contact with me since my divorce, have they shown me any support?
  4. How close are they to my ex husband?
  5. Have they judged me harshly without hearing my side of the story?
  6. Have they listened to me and then gone ahead a gossiped about what I have confided in them?
  7. Will they help me to move on with my life and encourage me?
  8. Do they care about what others are saying about me and allowing it to affect our friendship?
  9. Are they interested in knowing me?
  10. What value do they add to my life?

From the above list I went through my friends, initially it was simple based on the above, another 20 were removed easily, but then it was tough. Some of the friends I had had for many years and there was history but I needed to look at it logically and based on a couple of other things had to make the decision of keeping or removing them. After about two weeks of heartache I managed to get my list of friends down to 100. These remaining friends were people that I cared about, saw on a regular basis, people who put something into my life. On the list were obviously some friends living overseas who I wanted to maintain contact with, some close and extended family members.

After the initial pain of doing this I cannot explain the absolute joy I felt knowing that I no longer had to be careful about what I said or offending anyone. I also blocked my ex and some people from viewing my profile. I was finding that because a large percentage of my friends were from my marriage days I was constantly seeing comments made on their profiles by my ex and felt as though I could not escape him that he was intruding on every part of my life even though we were now divorced. The criteria I used to block people was based on how they use facebook. We all know that many, many people use facebook as a means to keep up with gossip and if I knew that these people did that I blocked them.

It was an effective way to simplify my life. I have since only added people that are either new friends or part of a group that I am involved in. I regularly go through my friend list and remove people every now and again. I try to keep my friends to about 120, as this is easy to manage.

It all depends on how you use facebook. Do you use it to keep contact with friends, do you use it as a marketing tool for yourself or things you are involved in, do you like to keep up with your friends and family, do you want to keep tabs on people for purely gossip purposes? Everyone uses it in different ways, there is no wrong or right way, you have to do what works for you. My one facebook rule is that I will never allow myself to publicly pull someone down or lambaste them for the way they behave or think, if I can’t say it to their face why be a coward and post it on a social network. Where possible I try to remain positive, every now and again I have pity party, but generally it has helped me to remain positive and happy by looking for the good instead of the bad.

So how do you manage your friends? Think about this, if you are in destructive relationships take action. Friendships require work, maintenance and time, if you can’t do any of these than be honest with yourself and move on. Put your energy into people that matter. Remember friends are like the seasons, they change all the time.

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