I just did a personal social media cleanse/purge of my followers, and it felt great.

I went through my Facebook and Instagram followers and deleted anyone who I haven’t talked to in years, who I didn’t feel is supportive or shared the same values as me, and anyone who is connected to my ex, knew about his betrayal and mistreatment of me or who I felt is a “mean girl.” It was liberating.

This is my way of social distancing.

I know some people might be hurt by me deleting them from my personal social media but sometimes it’s necessary. Out of sight, out of mind.

Once you remove someone from your social feeds, that person is cut off from your life and you are cut off from theirs. It’s quite simple actually.

And with so much extra noise in the world today it really helps to simplify things. I felt that I was too involved in many people’s lives who I haven’t seen or talked to in years and with whom I don’t have any intention of rekindling a friendship.

There’s so many great things about social media, but the dark side is being too interconnected with people, especially those who don’t really make an effort in your life and who you otherwise wouldn’t really know or care about.

You are also not required of obligated to stay social media friends with anyone – including family – just because of your history with them or the fact that you went to the same school or grew up in the same town.

Removing unwanted people from your social media is not something for which you need to apologize. Neither is cutting off their access to you and your life. I wish I had done it much sooner with a few people in my life, especially several frenemies.

Here are a few more reasons to delete or unfollow (this is muting) someone on your personal social media.

  • You’re only friends with them on social media. This means that you don’t see each other in person or call each other. Your relationship is purely based on social media. I am Generation X and so I grew up without social media – the concept of having social media only friends is actually quite odd to me, and it’s not really something I need in my life. Real friends call you on the phone, they make time for you in person and they don’t just creep on your photos and posts.
  • They try to “one-up” you or put you down when you post about your successes or happy moments in life. Remember, when someone puts you down, their comments are rooted in the other person’s insecurities and aren’t about you, but you don’t need that toxicity or competition in your life. I had a friend who never seemed happy for me when anything went well in my life personally or professionally. She always had to make a snide or insulting comment to knock me down. She’s no longer in my life for many reasons, including that.
  • You don’t agree with their posts or find them offensive. Perhaps it’s their political viewpoints, the fact that they are always gloomy or self-pitying or some other opinion they state often that is not aligned with yours. You can make the choice to unfollow them, which is muting them from your feed or taking a more permanent stands by deleting them.

When you follow someone on social media and let them follow you, you automatically become involved in their life. If you no longer want to be involved in theirs or give them access to yours, it’s okay to remove them and unfollow them.

This is me happily deleting all of the negative people from my personal social media

It also makes a big point when you delete someone from your social media feeds and unfollow them.

Sometimes you have to take an action that clearly explains how you will and will not allow yourself to be treated – it’s called having boundaries. And there is no better way to tell someone how you really feel than by deleting them on social without a word.

The person on the receiving end will probably think you are immature or passive aggressive for unfriending them this way, but the odds are that you probably don’t care if it’s gotten to this point.

The first thing I did when my ex and I ended our relationship was to delete him from my social media accounts and remove every photo of us. Restricting his access to my life was important to me. I soon after had to block him from every social channel (including LinkedIn) because of a very acrimonious ending of our relationship. I also wound up having to block a number of mutual friends. Blocking people is incredibly important if you are trying to cut ties with them and to ensure they do not know details about your personal life even if your Instagram and Facebook accounts are set to private.

If you decide not to block an ex or an ex friend, note that they will still be tagged in photos of yours, which will show up in their feed. Make the decision whether you are okay with that. I was not. I wanted every trace of our relationship to be removed from the Internet.

It’s OK to have boundaries, it’s OK to keep your circle small. It’s also OK to limit what people know about you, particularly when it comes to your personal life.

You also don’t have to broadcast everything that’s happening in your life on social media. If things are going really well in your life be careful what you share as there will often be jealous mean girls who will use this information against you.

Trust me on this, as this happened to me. I had a woman in my life who I thought was a friend, who actually turned out to be my worst enemy. She was jealous of my successes and my career and seemed to revel when my life would take a turn for the worse. She did everything she could to cause problems in my life. Yet every time I posted some thing on social media about a vacation I took or work success, she would always say something positive. Sometimes the people closest to you are the most dangerous.

Sometimes it’s better to say nothing, especially right now during the pandemic and the election where many people are very judgmental with what others post.

Anyone on social media who makes their lives out to be perfect all the time or putting on an act.

Remember that nobody gets a notification when you delete them from your personal or professional social media accounts. Sure it might be awkward when they find out, but you’ll deal with that.

I highly encourage the personal social media edit. Having boundaries is a good thing. Keeping your circle small is a good thing. Editing your friends is healthy. So is surrounding yourself with positive people who enhance your life.

When you surround yourself with positivity, you will be less affected by other people’s toxic behavior on social media and in real life.