Bigger isn’t necessarily better. I’ve been wondering about that a lot with regards to social media recently. In my hundreds of connections, how many people do I really care about? How many do I remain “friends” with because I fear offending them if I cut off that relationship. I’m guessing I probably only interact with about 100 or so of my Facebook friends. And probably only a quarter of those on a deeper level.
I’ve seen a lot of posts about the election, mainly outrage and anger. Which I understand and empathize with. I don’t want to tell people how to feel. If you’re complaining about what you see on Facebook, maybe you should spend less time on Facebook. It doesn’t make sense for you to do something you don’t enjoy.
But, on the flip side, should I be the one carrying emotional burdens for people I don’t care about? A Facebook friend of mine, a college classmate, ranted about something. I didn’t necessarily agree with her, but I don’t like seeing people annoyed or angry either. But, is it my responsibility to cheer her up? Why should I burden myself with what she’s putting out in the world if I’m not going to do anything about it? Granted, there are times when semi-close friends right heartfelt things that I am genuinely moved, or troubled by. I simply acknowledge it with a comment or a like. Sometimes that’s all you need to do. I just don’t want my day ruined by people I have little to no connection with. If you’re going to ruin my day, you better friggin’ care about me a lot.
And while I like to think I have smart, well-read friends who post interesting articles on their Facebook page (I like to think I am one of those people), it’s a lot more annoying than you think it is. While I do find genuinely interesting stories, I eventually get sick of the takes that accompany them. I’m not friends with you because of your punditry (well, I am friends with a few pundits, but I won’t name those five people), I should be friends with you because I genuinely enjoy you as a person. From what I’ve learned in my training as a journalist: a lot of pundits are jerks. I have a right to remove jerks from my Facebook feed.
Then there are people who would just say, why don’t you quit Facebook then? I mean, it is pretty awful, but I do enjoy seeing pictures of people I care about, passion projects that people show off, and it is an easy way to reconnect with a friend I haven’t heard from in a while.
So, I think I’m going to keep the joy small. I’m only going to carry burdens that I am prepared to carry. I am going to give help when I feel like I can give it, and politely refuse when I realize that I cannot give it. It’s ok to say no, and it’s ok to let others pick up burdens when you can’t. All you can do is show up and offer your gift. If you can’t give it, don’t offer it.