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You Can’t Unfriend Everyone

Social media has become one of the main ways that we interact with people- both with friends and family, and with folks who we may not know as well. While it’s called ‘social media’, the reality is that many social aspects are lost and we are often left in a space where we are unable to engage in meaningful dialogue and genuine connections. When faced with a challenging or concerning post or interaction, it can feel easier to ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ someone rather than taking any steps to try to engage. Below are some things to consider when you are tempted to just hit the ‘unfollow’ or unfriend’ button:

Pay attention to Motivations and Intentions
When conversations begin to get heated, it’s important to ask yourself questions around why you are engaging the way that you are. Try to identify your less productive intentions, and replace them with productive motivations. For example, winning the argument may feel rewarding, but it does not serve to build either your understanding or your relationship. 

Explore Differences Between Dialogue, Discussion, and Debate
Each has a different goal:
-Debate- ‘The noisier the smarter’
-Discussion- ‘Might is right’
-Dialogue- ‘Connectivity for Community’
Think about how to make shifts so that you are engaging in dialogue, rather than trying to prove that you are correct and the other person is wrong. What is your goal? Engaging in dialogue in a way that aligns with your motivations will allow for deeper connections and engagement across issues that are important to you

Explore your Triggers and Responses
Being aware of your own triggers and why you might want to ‘unfriend’ someone is crucial. Thinking about any fears, unmet needs, biases, etc and your responses is a necessary piece of self-reflection and ownership that should take place. Practice self-talk and cool downs that allow you to engage in more productive ways rather than ‘unfriend’. 

Utilizing these techniques can allow for space for new perspectives and open/honest dialogues that may not otherwise occur. While ‘unfriending’ and ‘unfollowing’ are certainly options when it comes to disagreements on social media, especially if there are safety concerns, another potentially productive option is to try practicing other ways of engaging and deepening connections.