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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Should I Unfollow or Unfriend?


One thing that 2020 taught me is how much I don't necessarily want to always know what everyone is thinking. You may have had to unfollow some people in 2020, and in drastic cases unfriend others.

The question we have all had to ask ourselves this year, when do you unfollow and when do you unfriend?

I recently discovered I was unfriended due to political reasons by a woman who used to be a very close friend. I was shocked, and ended up on my husband's shoulder crying for over 30 minutes.

After I pulled myself together, I examined my reaction. Why was it so hurtful, when we had already unfollowed each other for years due to many belief differences? In this case an unfriending felt very different than an unfollowing, it felt like a breakup.


Unfollow button- You don't see them: Some people may not even know the Unfollow button exists, but it has saved many relationships in my life.

Privacy filters- They don't see you: You can customize who sees what you post. Do you have a beloved uncle who comments politically on EVERY one if your posts? Set your privacy to exclude him from seeing anything but your family photos.




Sometimes online social media habits can grow bitterness in a real life relationship that is too important to lose. I have a few people in my life who I can maintain an in-person relationship with only if I don't follow them in our social media relationship.

I unfollow, then I can choose to go their profile at my leisure to look at pictures of their kids, instead of getting frustrated by a divisive post in my newsfeed.

There are many times in life where we have different, possibly divisive, beliefs that would never come up in our in-person relationship.

For example, I deeply treasure a multi-generational church setting, but generational differences are highlighted more on social media than in person. I want to maintain a real relationship with some women who are much older than me, and not tracking their social media can sometimes keep me from bitterness or annoyance.

If you feel good anytime you are with someone in person, yet get mad at their online posts, that is an indicator that maybe a boundary needs to be set.

There are a lot of reasons why you may need to filter what you see online to maintain in-person relationship.


A sacred history means you have carried each other through a trial in life. You have ugly cried together, gone through a life changing experience, walked the shared road of loss and crisis, and/or held each other's babies while the other one naps/cries.

Like I said above, I was recently unfriended by a woman with whom I have a sacred history, presumably due to our differences about 2020 politics. I was somewhat blind-sided.

Our lives had separated in the past few years due some moves, we drifted from close friends to people who only saw each other a few times a year.

The thing about sacred history is that you never go back to being acquaintances. An acquaintance is some who doesn't know you snort late at night when you laugh too hard, or has not had to get you toilet paper because you cried so much you used all the Kleenex.

Even during our closest days, this woman and I had different beliefs when it came to medical decisions. She never forced her beliefs on me, and vice versa. Like I said above, we always had social media boundaries to maintain our in-person relationship. When life moves made our in-person relationship less frequent, I checked in on her timeline every month or so just to see how she was doing. 

The year 2020 had starkly highlighted our political and medical belief differences, but I didn't think it had erased our sacred history. I had loved this woman, truly.

While unfollowing was a boundary, unfriending felt like a breakup. It felt so final, and so one sided. I'm 37 years old and have been married since I was 19 years old, I didn't think I'd have to deal with breakups anymore.

But it is ultimately her choice who she chooses to be friends with, and I can only control my choices.


Are you members of the same home church?

Same homeschool co-op?

Are you extended family?

I deeply believe in the local church. I like to say that all of Christendom is my extended family, but our local church body is our immediate family. I do not have a sacred history or in-person relationship with everyone in my local church, but I do view the ones who are my friends on Facebook as extended family members.

If there is someone in my church, or in my extended family, who I don't have a close friendship with, but who is politically active on social media (on either side of the aisle because I'm an independent and both sides exhaust me) I tend to unfollow them so that a root of bitterness does not hinder our in-person relationship.


The short answer is yes of course.  I purge my friend list often of acquaintances, but only you can answer when this is a step you need to take with a real friend. 

I have unfortunately had to unfriend people with which I shared a sacred history, BUT that was only after I followed Matthew 18 guidelines of how to deal with conflict. Unfriending doesn't come until AFTER you've had the hard in-person conversation, counseling, and if resolution still isn't happening, then sometimes your boundary has to include some unfriending.

Boundaries are not an excuse for unforgiveness. Matthew 18 is about confronting a brother AND forgiveness.

If you'd like more on how to forgive while maintaining boundaries, I highly recommend "Boundaries" by John Townsend and Henry Henry Cloud.

I do not claim to be a social media expert. These are MY filters for MY boundaries, I only share in hope that maybe someone out there is trying to figure out their social media boundaries during this divisive time.

I know everyone is different, and I'd like to hear your experience about boundaries on social media.

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