FACEBOOK’S UNSUNG HERO

The most important social media addition to date.

Last week, Facebook users everywhere rejoiced when Zuckerberg and Co unveiled new reactions for statuses, pictures, and other posts. Now when we see someone we barely know in real life post something upsetting about a family member’s battle with cancer, we no longer need to actually reach out to them with a message or comment to express our condolences. A crying face emoji will do it for us!

An emoji is worth a thousand words.

Sarcasm aside, I’d like to shine a light on a very under appreciated aspect of Facebook living. In December of 2013, a new feature unceremoniously made its way onto our profiles. It soon became not only a useful tool for navigating the treacherous waters of the News Feed, but also an essential instrument in helping us maintain peace and tranquility in our relationships off of the internet.

Ladies and gentlemen of Crazytown, it’s time to show some love for the “unfollow.”

Praise be!

It used to be that if we were “friends” with someone, we had to see everything they posted. For some of our “friends”, this was a good thing. (I will never tire of cat videos.) But for some of our other “friends”, this system could put us in quite a predicament. Take for example, your friend from junior high who posts pictures of her 3 year old every 20 minutes, always exclaiming how adorable her child is and how this proves she has great genes. Or your uncle who has no qualms about expressing his political leanings that stray far, far away from your own. Or your co-worker who suddenly thinks they know the answers to all of life’s problems and posts statuses that kind of remind you of Jim Jones’ speeches. Or your classmate from theatre school who waited on a famous actor one afternoon 5 years ago and now feels the need to post a status congratulating “my pal Leo for his Oscar win last night!!!!!” Or the humble bragger. Or the Vaguebooker.

The list goes on. We can agree that, online, these people are absolutely the worst. But, for a time, our only option to NOT see the ridiculous things they felt needed a universal audience was either staying off Facebook all together (and who wants to do that? We don’t want to miss the cat videos!) or the very permanent act of “unfriending.” This put all of us responsible Facebookers in a precarious situation: we could say “ENOUGH UNCLE LOU I’M TIRED OF HEARING YOU SAY WE NEED TO APPEAL THE 19TH AMENDMENT” and click on that “unfriend” button in a fit of blind rage. But then there inevitably comes a time when dear old Lou wants to post your cousin’s Kindergarten graduation pictures on your Wall. He types your name into the search bar and nothing pops up. He then discovers a shocking truth: you are no longer friends. So Lou calls your mother to ask why. Then your mother calls you to ask why. You have to say you disagree with him politically and believe that Susan B. Anthony was right. Lou brings it up the next time he sees you, which conveniently is Thanksgiving dinner. You have it out over the turkey and stuffing, he storms out of your parents house dragging your cousin by the ear, your mom starts crying, and your dad pops the cap off of another Bud Light. Your Thanksgiving is ruined, all because of Facebook.
I’m deactivating my account.

But those were the Dark Ages, Crazytowners. Our social media souls have been saved by the “unfollow.” We don’t have to be subjected to the ignorance or annoyance or arrogance of those in our networks, but we also don’t have to be condemned to a life of potentially burning bridges or destroying holidays with family because we just can’t take it anymore. We can stop seeing that co-worker act like she knows all the answers (and it lies in the Kool-Aid!) but we can keep her on our friends list because, well, she’s (unfortunately) a really good industry contact.

So y’all have fun with these reactions. “Like,” “Wow,” and “Angry” whatever you want. I’ll remain loyal to my opinion that “unfollow” trumps a laughing emoji any day.