Social media rejection hurts…but it doesn’t have to.

"I only got 2 likes for my cat falling off a shelf video!"

“I only got 2 likes for my cat falling off a shelf video!”

Something odd happened. It was a friend’s birthday and I wished them Happy Birthday on Facebook. I did it early in the morning and presumed I was the first one to do it as I couldn’t see any other Happy Birthdays there.

Later that evening I thought I’d check in to her page to see if she’d posted any birthday pictures. I logged on and went to her profile…and there weren’t any birthday pics. No mention of her birthday at all. In fact the only Happy Birthday I could see was from me.

I was quite clearly locked out of her profile by some robust privacy settings. I couldn’t see many of her pics – very few of her kids and certainly no recent ones – and then the truth slowly occurred to me, like an anvil falling through space and time onto a massive cartoon X on the top of my head.

For me, she had her Facebook profile locked down tighter than a nun’s knickers.

And yet here was I, blithely sharing my goofy updates, snaps of my dog and most importantly, pictures and info about my kids. Because Reader, this wasn’t just a friend.

This was a family member.

I was gutted.

Because, in the weird world of Facebook symbolism, if someone you actually know in the real world doesn’t give you access to their personal stuff, they probably don’t like you very much.

Non-reciprocity is a Facebook atrocity.
Plato *

I felt sad, angry, excluded and bloody stupid for sharing pictures of my latest pair of glasses. Of my son dancing. Of my daughter’s new haircut. But most of all I felt sad.

I pondered a while on how to deal with this. I’ve written a book about social media so it should be a doddle, right? Wrong. It’s a bloody minefield and I spent a couple of clueless hours wondering what to do. Because more than anything I wanted her TO KNOW I KNEW.

So I sent her a message.

Hey, I’ve just been to your page to see if you’ve posted any birthday pics. Now either I’m the only person who’s wished you happy birthday or I have a v restricted view of your page! Which kinda makes a FB friendship pointless, yeah? If you’d rather we weren’t connected on FB that’s cool, no prob, no pressure etc. Whatever, I hope you’ve had a fantastic day and have been thoroughly spoiled. X

The next day she replied, telling me she’s not that savvy on her personal Facebook page and that she’ll have a play with her privacy settings, it wasn’t intentional etc etc.

The day after that I checked back to see if her profile had changed.

It had.

I still couldn’t see anything but NOW my ‘Happy Birthday’ post was no longer visible.

Not savvy, my arse.

Again, I felt terrible. Stupid. Sad. Angry at feeling sad. Angry at caring at all. But this is how exclusion works, isn’t it? It makes you feel shit.

Because it’s meant to.

I thought about it and talked it over with my husband. I won’t repeat what he said as I’d probably have to put an age-restriction on my blog…but it included the word “unfriend.”

It’s an Orwellian word “unfriend”, isn’t it? It feels final and brutal and soulless and cruel. I’m not a fan of conflict and I hate rejecting anyone so this was pressing all my buttons. What to do? What to bloody do??

In the end, I wrote this:

On my FB profile, I’ve added you and [insert name of her sister, my other cousin] to my friends and also my family friend lists – this means you get to see all my stuff, even though I’m pretty judicious as to what I post. Mainly it’s everyday life stuff, pics of the dog…and of course, pictures of my family.

And looking at your profile – and [insert name of Other Cousin]’s – I’m aware that essentially, we just aren’t connected. It feels inappropriate for me to show you so much of my life while I’m so curtained off from yours. This is nothing personal but I’m going to break our FB connection. If you ever want to catch up with me in the real world however, just give me call.

I wish you and yours the very best of the best. Until next time. x

And how do I feel? Still gutted. But am I pleased I’ve realigned my boundaries?

You betcha.

Can they still see pictures of my kids?

No. No they bloody can’t.

* Plato didn’t really say that. I made it up.

the girl in the office

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