Leaving Social Media With Grace

We’ve all been there.

We spent many months, or perhaps even years, on a social media platform, making friends from all walks of life. Sharing holiday snapshots and favorite recipes, flailing over the hottest new episode of our favorite TV shows, perhaps even finding hobbies, career paths, or significant others.

Then, sometimes slowly, sometimes abruptly…things change. Logging in is something you do out of habit. The little things you used to be amused by–or at least could tolerate–suddenly grate on your nerves. Maybe you’re hopelessly tired of cat pictures, or political rants, or ‘my kid is so cute stores,’ or any of a hundred things common to the social media landscape.

Again, we’ve all been there. It just happens. But please, don’t take out your bad temper on the people who follow you on social media. Don’t poison friendships you’ve cultivated for so long. There’s a right way and a wrong way to call it quits. First, let’s take a look at the wrong way.

I’ve been consistently amazed at how many grown adults, many with kids and wonderful careers, morph into vindictive, spiteful teenagers, flooding their followers’ feeds with diatribes about how toxic they’ve decided the platform is. People who I’ve considered friends for years have posted furious updates about how sad and lonely and completely useless everyone using [insert social media platform] is.

Suddenly instead of laughing along with everyone who sends their words hopefully out into that ether, they want it known in no uncertain terms that they’re now laughing at those of us who haven’t had their marvelous epiphany.

They become hell bent on souring themselves in the eyes of everyone with whom they shared so many candid moments. The people who comforted them through breakups and cheered their good news are cruelly informed that they are unworthy. Sometimes I think they do it to deliberately burn all their bridges, so they won’t be tempted to stick around long after they’ve stopped finding enjoyment there.

Do not be that person.

Let yourself be remembered as the funny mom who once delighted her followers with pictures of her smiling kids cheerfully destroying the kitchen while making a burnt Mother’s Day breakfast. Be remembered as the person who always took time around the holidays to post encouraging words about being grateful for what we have. Be remembered as the person who always had such interesting links and tidbits to share.

Be remembered as a friend.

Now that I’ve shown you the wrong way, perhaps you’re asking yourself how does one leave social media the right way? By remembering that you can be honest without being nasty. Remember that everybody understands becoming bored and disenchanted with something. You don’t have to go out of your way to make everyone who still enjoys that particular something feel bad.

Consider, instead, something like this:

It’s time for me to say goodbye. For a long time now, I’ve been logging in out of habit. The more time I spend here, the more I seem to feel distant from whatever happy feelings drew me here in the first place. I have decided to leave before the negative feelings erode all the good memories. Thank you all for the time we’ve shared here. I wish you guys the best.

See? That’s not very hard. You should never feel obligated to continue using any platform you’ve stopped enjoying. You just need to remember that people who have tried to be your friend deserve much better than to be condescended to for being a part of that platform.

Just because you want to end a given chapter in your life doesn’t mean you have to rip those pages out and burn them down to ashes. Leave them there, learn from them, maybe even flip through them in a few years when you’re feeling nostalgic.

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