Wednesday, May 9, 2018


When in the throes of infertility and in the immediate aftermath I used the "unfollow" and "unfriend" functions of social media quite generously.  I don't think I need to explain my rationale to this community.

I've moved around in my adult life and have a lot of friends from different places and periods of my life.  The unfortunate reality is that I may never see some of these people again in my life, so I very much enjoy keeping up with them and their lives via social media.

Several years ago, I unfollowed a woman who was my roommate during my freshman year of college and lived across the hallway during my sophomore year.  We were pretty good friends during that part of our lives, but our paths diverged after college.  I unfollowed her during her pregnancy for her first child.  While she wasn't one of the bad offenders (like, for example, I don't recall her posting ultrasound pictures), but at that point, I couldn't handle one more pregnancy, so I unapologetically and unceremoniously unfollowed her.

I thought about her from time to time in the following years, but never "checked in" on her.  Over the weekend another friend from college posted a picture of the unfollowed friend and herself, which led me to check out the unfollowed friend's profile.  I wasn't surprised to see that she'd had a second child and then adopted a child through the foster care system.  I wasn't surprised to see happy pictures of her life.  But what I was surprised to see was a post commemorating one-year cancer free.  A little more profile stalking revealed that after experiencing some stomach issues, and a very proactive doctor, a small, but cancerous tumor was found in her stomach.  The tumor was removed and there were clean margins.  They got all of the cancer out.  They also did a course of chemotherapy just to be sure. 

A wave of guilt washed over me as I found out this news.  I felt guilty that I wasn't there to support a friend through a difficult period of her life, or even to let her know that I was thinking about her.

But then I stopped myself.  I unfollowed her for a reason during a very painful period of my life.  It was unfortunate, but it is what I needed to take care of myself.  I do not need to apologize for taking care of myself.  Plus, she is fortunate to have a supportive husband, family, and community that rallied around her during her time of need.

I still feel a little bad that I didn't know until a year after the fact, but the reality is that without social media, it may have been many more years, if at all, for me to find out.  But the guilt is softened somewhat, because I would have needed to endure 3-4 years of really hard posts (about her child and subsequent pregnancy) to find out this news earlier.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes there can be unanticipated consequences related to self-care, and sometimes those unanticipated consequences may make you feel like crap.  But in this case, being selfish and taking care of myself first was necessary for healing.


  1. I’m going to go a step further: she didn’t follow up with you after you unfriended her. To me, though I understand the initial guilt, absolves you of any guilt given there wasn’t any follow through on her end. You did what you needed to do to survive. And I’m fairly sure that if she had both reached out to you and offered you support during your own period of hell, the situation would have been different.

    So no guilt lady.

  2. Oh, that's tough...and I'm glad you're giving yourself permission to feel fine with the fact that you unfollowed her for your own self-care at the time, and that while you missed her cancer diagnosis, you protected yourself from the pregnancy and baby triggers. I feel like sometimes social media takes the place of more meaningful communication, and if the only way that was communicated was through Facebook, well then you get a pass there too. If there was a message, or an email, or a support network setup, then you might have known about it earlier...but nothing like that existed that you were made aware of, and so I don't think you have to feel guilty (but totally get the guilt, absolutely). I unfollowed a lot of people when I became goo last year, and I think I need to revisit my unfollows. I think some people I can handle again, as they've had their babies and the fresh "WELCOME TO THE CLUB" crap is done, but others I think I can keep unfollowed (and possibly add a few more) due to the incredible "my child was a gift, a miracle from heaven, I learned never to give up" nonsense I keep seeing in my feed. I mean, great that they feel that way, but it really puts a boatload of lemon juice in my stab wound. So I hope you don't beat yourself up too much -- self-care is so important and you can't know what you don't know, if you get what I mean. :)

  3. Cristy has said exactly what I was going to say. It takes two to be in a relationship.
    We drift apart for a lot of reasons. Your reason for this was really good, and really hard. I'm glad you're not beating yourself up for that.

  4. What the others said above. ^^ Most of the people I've unfollowed or unfriended on FB are people who (besides the fact that I don't need to be bombarded with their political propaganda or pitches for whatever business they are in) never "like" or comment on my posts or even post to wish me a happy birthday. If they're not interested in my life or in supporting me, why should I feel obligated to show interest in theirs?

    I've created several "friends lists" on Facebook -- I have one for "all friends" (makes it easy to see just the posts from my friends as opposed to all the other stuff from the pages I follow), dh's cousins, my cousins, high school friends, work friends, university friends, etc. I also have a list for all the people I've unfollowed, and every now & then, I will go over there for a quick look to see if I'm missing out on anything important. Guess what? I'm not! ;) And I'm usually reminded (very quickly...!) why I decided to unfollow them, lol. ;)

    So yes -- definitely don't feel too guilty!

  5. Yes to everything you and the others have said. You did what you needed to do when you needed to.... and in your time of sadness, the support you needed for yourself was to move away from her social media posts. Agreed, no guilt... taking care of yourself is #1 priority!