My younger son came home distraught because he had a quarrel with his best friend. After hearing him out, I tried to be casual and said that these minor squabbles happen. Maybe, you misunderstood or he did not mean it that way. After giving it due thought and a few hours, I heard him speaking over the phone with the same friend and apologising to him. I also heard him tell the other chap on the phone that he felt hurt over something and the other guy magnanimously must have tended his apologies. End of story. I stifled a smile. Children really do know how to handle conflicts the best.

Weren’t we like this when we were kids? I sure was. Then as we grew older, egos started hindering us from reaching out and striking a reconciliation. It became particularly difficult when the conflict came from a person you did not know well enough. Is it possible that I have no interest in reaching out because I felt that perhaps the rift was for the better?

A few weird incidents have confused me and brought me to the question I asked at the start. When is it a good time to let go of a friend? What makes someone lash out at a friend in a status update or troll a friend or go maligning a friend behind their back to other friends? Do they for a moment think about what this person may have done for them? Maybe helped them when they needed help, provided them valuable counsel, maybe even promoted them or their work to others? Or was it all a part of the scheme of take as much as you can and then turn your back?

No, I am not playing a victim here nor is my intent to besmirch anyone’s name. So please don’t ask me for details like name, incident etc. That is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that we often confuse social media acquaintances for friends.

Social media or even our blogs are places where we interact freely with people we barely know. Some of them may be bloggers whose writing you may have connected with. Some others just accounts whose tweets/updates you may enjoy. I always compare them with fellow passengers on a train journey. People we may share a laugh with, have spirited conversations with, maybe even share a meal with and then go our separate ways.

The problem is when we take liberties that were not given to us in the first place with some such friends.

My experience on social media tells me that politics and religion are two areas where people, in general, hold the strongest views. And the strange times that we are living in, we have to choose sides. If I don’t eat beef, do I become communal or not in with the times? If I am okay with a sadhu wearing saffron robes, again am I a fundamentalist? What if I support the present government’s views on an issue, am I a ‘bhakt’? What if I’ve always felt that every person of every community deserves a fair chance at freedom or opportunity, does that make me a ‘libtard’? Why must I need to defend my views at every step of the way to the two rabid camps that have been formed now? Is it not okay if I unfollow you because you continuously share your views with a viciousness that makes me feel queasy?

I am just keeping my head above water on social media. Yes, I have unfollowed and muted many people because on some days it gets too much. Maybe, it’s my weakness, perhaps I am too sensitive. I don’t have the stomach to go hammer and tongs at every issue, so I choose not to react. I don’t even comment on status updates. I don’t want to be pulled into uncomfortable arguments where strangers have a go at me. If you have been on social media long enough you’d know that people don’t change their views or ideologies just because you lash out. It may even harden the views of some.

But, one thing I will not tolerate is someone haranguing me. You can disagree with me. You can share an offensive opinion. Unless you tag me, I will give you the benefit of doubt that it is not about me. And trust me, I do say a lot of general things. If you wish to take offence, go right ahead. Not my problem. But if you think that you will harass me or God forbid, think that my family is fair game, you are out of my life. That is the time when you cease to be a friend.

If, for you, a small comment/scoring a point in a debate was more important than a cordial relationship of years then so be it and we were never friends in the true sense of the word.

I am not confrontational by nature. I avoid conflict, as a matter of fact. But, it does not make me weak or stupid. Oh and I never forget. I may forgive sometime in the future but once out, a person is out of my life.

I don’t enjoy pulling anyone down. I don’t even wish ill of you. I am just not that negative.

But yes, if you wrong me, my heart will not bleed for you. Go on. Live your life. Just don’t cross my path again.

I have experienced many such incidents over the years and finally wrote about this because sometimes silence is seen as a sign of weakness.

Have you been seeing more broken relationships on social media, of late?



50 Thoughts on “When is It a Good Time to Let Go of a Friend?

  1. Can I just say I emphatically agree with you? It’s not easy being on social media these days. Things have changed and not for the better. It’s why I avoid talking politics or religion on social media. Not worth it. And like you said, it’s not going to change anything anyway.

    If I disagree with you or anyone else, I choose to say it good naturedly. And we agree to disagree. These days I use SM for humour. It’s the only thing that makes sense, for me.

    So sorry you’ve have some rough luck on this front. I know. It’s not pretty.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…What I truly miss about BloggingMy Profile

  2. Social Media is just like a train journey. I agree. You are cordial with everyone, but cannot be friends with all. It is just impossible, you would just burn out being friends with everyone. This is something that most people don’t get. Also friendships are different people with different ideologies coming together. There will be disagreements and differences. I know we have had wonderful discussions and I have got so many learnings from our discussions. I wish we could go back and make life much more simple. Where there is no sly tweeting, no harassment or judgements passed on your family based on your opinions or actions.

    So sorry that you face so many issues online, its horrible, I know. *Hugs*

    • Exactly! You have said it, Jai. One just can’t be friends with everyone. And yes, one does get affected when one sees sides of people they never imagined. Sure, we can choose to ignore and not comment. Why go after someone? What point are you trying to prove? That you are smarter, more intelligent? I wish we all could go back to the time when this passive, aggressive behaviour was not there. But, it isn’t happening, any time soon, is it? So yes, time to let go of people who don’t respect you and have no place in your virtual life.

      Thanks for your warm words. Hugs back!
      Rachna recently posted…When is It a Good Time to Let Go of a Friend?My Profile

  3. I have lost friends on social media precisely due to this. You have put in writing everything I feel about this issue. I’m sensitive to the extent that I keep thinking what I might have done wrong long after the episode. I keep blaming myself like a silly person. So, I try to keep away from all things controversial these days. Perhaps, I’m weak. I don’t like one-upmanship, this need to go and pick a debate or a fight because I don’t agree with someone’s opinion. Never have been that way. But these days what happens is I might tweet something on a political issue which may be the complete opposite of what someone else believes and there that suddenly qualifies as my dissing someone, my ill intention and not just putting forth my opinion. I’m just tired of it all and also don’t like the bitterness that comes with it. I don’t have the time or the energy to deal with all this. Feel heavy after reading this.
    Hmm…Hugs, Rachna.

    • I have noticed your withdrawal, Naba. I’ve also actually seen some of the harassment that you talk of. In fact, there was this one person who was horrifying us with their acrid rants and confrontation almost daily. I completely understand what you mean. It’s futile first saying something and then defending it. For God’s sake, why is everything taken so personally especially something political. In a sudden outburst, we may say something which we mean in a general sense, why does it qualify as dissing someone? Ignore me. I am not that important. Who really cares what I think? Agree to disagree or perhaps move on? I am seriously tired as well. Hence, I only post about plants, food, dogs and a stray article that I liked. Yet, there will be always someone who will take offense. Thank you for the hugs. Hugs back. Let’s hold on to our sanity.
      Rachna recently posted…When is It a Good Time to Let Go of a Friend?My Profile

  4. Yes. Sometimes I forget that there is a difference between acquaintance and friend. And that has hurt me too. At times, the person has just unfriended or blocked without a reason, and I’ve wondered what I did wrong for them to walk away. I understand now that it’s their choice, but still. I’m a bit excitable by nature, but I don’t think I’ve done anything that can’t be sorted out, and that needs them to block me. It makes me double check before I write anything over chat or offer opinion. Your thoughts brought back some memories. But they were beautifully expressed, Rachna.
    Vinay Leo R. recently posted…Maybe It’s Double Trouble This April…My Profile

  5. First of all, Rachna, what a brilliantly written piece is this! I admire your style tremendously, girl! I agree with all that you have said here, however, more than concentrating on the topic, I was only admiring the way you have poured your thoughts and used such awesome words…I may not have said it,but I am your fan! <3
    I agree with you that sticking to neutral topics on social media is being sane. Who wants any conflict in life when we already have so much of it? I, too, like you am sensitive and stay away from debates. I can forgive, but never forget, and so think better than getting into any arguments online. People have their views on everything and we or anyone has no right to argue with them. Just agree to disagree and get on with life.

    • You are the sweetest, Shilpa. ? You brought a smile to my face. Thank you so much. I guess I am getting more hardened and aloof and quite wary of people now on social media. For my sanity, I avoid confrontation and unfriend/block when I think that the other person has no place in my virtual life. Thanks for all the support.

  6. I wish we were like kids. Your post reminds me of a lovely song…..Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya….Jo Mil Gaya Usiko Muquaddar Samajh Liya….Jo Kho Gaya Main Usko Bhulata Chala Gaya.
    I know easier said than done. Losing a friend hurts. Maybe it was not meant to be.

    • Love that song and the message. For me I think the bigger learning is to choose the word friend a bit more carefully for social media acquaintances and accordingly fine tune my own expectations from them.

  7. Friendship on social media is the most complicated thing in modern times. For one people really aren’t really themselves. Hence the basic foundation of having a good friendship is hit. When it comes to discussing or sharing opinions in a cordial way, well the lesser said the better … People are most often not open to accepting anothers point of view. In such a scenario its best to limits oneself …. Probably that’s why i am pushed to stay silent on social media on most occasions.
    Ramya Abhinand recently posted…Book Review: The Mask Diaries By Abhinav GoelMy Profile

  8. Food for thought there…it’s interesting that while I’m an opinionated person, somehow even the idiots on social media don’t really *get* to me. I think for some reason, I can distance them as the other. For me, the problem is more IRL when I get passionate about my opinions, have a hard time hearing narrow-minded opinions and can be very vocal about it to the point of conflict. And unlike social media, I can’t just ‘block’ or ‘mute’ these said individuals in life! But I hear what you’re saying because I do observe a LOT of negativity on social media. I just choose to not get involved in most because frankly, I don’t have the time or energy!
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently posted…A little rhymeMy Profile

    • It is much tougher when we are faced with such people in real life. Keeping quiet may not be an option then. You are again correct about the negativity on social media which is mostly no holds barred.

  9. Bang on girl! You echoed a lot of my thoughts in this post. Religion and Politics are the two things that I don’t touch in FB. If I like a post, I will like it..that’s all but not even comment on it if it is political or religion related. Because like all, I am strongly opinionated too in those matters. I am exactly like you, non-confronting in nature and try to avoid conflict. Somehow, the dirtiness of it gets to my mind and ruins my peace. I keep my one arm distance and it retains my sanity to an extent though few statements by some people get on my nerves. We need to have a chai pe charcha on this :D.

  10. Things have become so polarised nowadays..or perhaps, that’s how we feel because now we know the inner workings of so many people’s brains as a result of social media! I’ve also unfollowed a few people because I frankly feel impatient after reading their status updates and even though I ignore them, it affects me for sometime. What’s the point in following such people whom you clearly don’t agree with anyway?
    I find making lists and muting people also helps! Everyone need not be a part of the conversation! That’s how it’s meant to be, but social media has changed how we communicate! It’s still a new tool and we have yet to figure out the proper etiquette of using it!

    • You have candidly expressed what I feel. We were never meant to see the ugly inner working of their minds. And though we choose to ignore, you really wonder what kind of people they are.

      Social Media has given a voice to everyone. Some of them have no clue how to express themselves without making an ass of themselves. So nice to have you here.

  11. Not only religion or politics, it’s better to keep mum for your own peace of mind. People are free to argue and fight, I am not. I unfriend those who don’t interact with me for more than a year. If I am offended, I unfollow. I have enough worries in my real life, I don’t want more from the virtual world.

    And I wish we can resolve issues like your son did. Ego ruins it for us.
    Saru Singhal recently posted…5 Free Resources You Can Use To Plan Your Wedding SmartlyMy Profile

    • Yes, l unfriend those as well. Wonder why they wanted to be friends when there is zero interaction they engage in. And then there are those idiots who think that yelling loudly is being emphatic in their communication. You bet. We don’t want to heap negativity from social media. Best is to get rid of these negative people.

  12. You are such a sweetheart 🙂 Nice post and again we are in sync. Long time ago I found someone’s FB comment unnecessary rude. It wasn’t a misinterpretation, there was tension between us in real life too, so I blocked that person on FB. Just last week I unblocked him – I just felt curious how he is doing after remembering some good times together. All that reflection was provoked by an argument with a very close friend, and the death of another friend. If only we could put the ego aside…but it’s a weed that takes time to be weeded out, and it’s an ongoing battle 🙂

    • If it is a close friend then I really give a lot of leeway. But this post was specifically written for ‘friends’ made through blogging or social media whom I never really knew very well. When they appropriate rights I never gave them, I have no qualms in cutting them out of my virtual life.

      Hugs to you too.

  13. Nice piece of writing.
    I also unfriended some Facebook friends and will continue to do so 😉

  14. You’ve given me some food for thought here. I’ve generally been quick to make friends online and to always believe the best of people. But I have seen a lot of so-called friends change their colors very quickly too. And I have always that it was all about me. But, perhaps that really isn’t true. Like I said, I’m going to think this over.
    Modern Gypsy recently posted…April A to Z 2017: The Artists ToolboxMy Profile

    • I know, I was taken in as well, initially, and added more people than I needed. But later, it gives heartburn to see some of their views. I am glad that the post provided you some food for thought.

  15. I am in perfect agreement with you Rachna Ji. I have also been following the same philosophy and the same path for a pretty long time. People visit social media with the same vices that they visit the real world with. The virtual world does not change or correct the defective ones. That’s we have to understand in order to deal practically with these so-called friends for the sake of nothing but our own peace of mind.

    Heartfelt thanks for this timely reminder for me which is, in fact, a guide for life.

    Jitendra Mathur

    • Thank you, Jitendra, for this detailed comment. I am glad that you can balance your virtual presence so well. I guess, we all need these reminders from time to time.

  16. I agree with Saru- We have our own worries of Real world. Why adding more virtual problems to the heap. moreover, how those people are our friends when there is leg pulling involved. And yes, being children we are expert at resolving issues with loved ones but add complexity to relationships while growing old. The way you have written this post is what I like the most Rachna.
    upasna recently posted…A-Z of becoming a Minimalist #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  17. First of all, very logical writing and covered some very important points., totally agree with the sentence …”if you have been….you lash out”.
    its also true that supporting any good project of present govt. you will imminently get the tag “Bhakt”.
    when i used to be active in twitter i have noticed such ridiculous nature of some people.
    But i myself has faced such situations much lesser coz i am not in fb, rarely use twitter, mainly in blogging and most importantly i never share my views on politics and religion.
    Jyotirmoy Sarkar recently posted…Nature 8My Profile

  18. Well coping with the changing environment is a challenge and there is no perfect solution:(
    RAHUL BHATIA recently posted…The Un-Smart ActionsMy Profile

  19. Can’t say much about the social media,and I think I am well out of it.
    But yes,real life friends-when do you discard them?My thumb rule is,when they they give me too much stress,they will be out of my life.I am rash that way.
    induchhibber recently posted…Cognitive Distortion–# Fortune Telling or # Jumping to ConclusionsMy Profile

  20. Politics and religion have made us on the verge of losing so many friends and the last election saw such unbelievable frenzy. To be honest, someone who calls us a friend would never backstab on the bag. I am so out of tune of what happens on FB since I’ve been out on a break for 4 months. It simply saps the energy. Good friends are for keep forever and they simply stand the test of times. I think it makes sense to demarcate personal equations from ideologies since we are humans and think differently. Friendship has always been my weakest spot and strength for it matters more than family for me. It’s sacred.
    Vishal Bheeroo recently posted…Smokey morningMy Profile

    • Don’t know, Vishal. I have a lot of people who spew quite a bit of vitriol on their TLs and I just ignore or unfollow. How can I say what they should write/feel? Yes, I do wonder what kind of people they are sometimes. And if I see that negativity is only what they talk about then slowly I move away. After all, we are not on social media to raise our BPs. For me, family is sacrosanct and I do not forgive those who take any kind of liberties there. Thanks for sharing your views.
      Rachna recently posted…A New Avid Reader #GratitudeMy Profile

  21. There is nothing more I can add here. You have said it all. I have learnt the hard way to be wary of online friendships. I am the kind who believes the best about anyone I meet but have often been way off the mark. So now I am very very careful whom I befriend and of course, I unfollow those with whom I share nothing in common, being just SM ‘friends’, which means precious nothing.

    Thankfully I have many friends with whom I vibe well despite diametrically opposite views on several issues. They are friends for keeps and I get to know them offline too, because they mean something to me. Of course I keep away from getting into any kind of arguments on SM, because I find it draining.
    Zephyr recently posted…Turn off that chatter, will you?My Profile

    • Thank you, Zephyr. Exactly, different views have never hindered friendships. Why should they? We can’t expect to only associate with people who are our clones? But apparently there are coteries of people who think similarly and pull down others who don’t quite fit their mould of ‘appropriate’. This incident showed me the mirror about many ‘friends’.

      Currently, the episode is behind me. But yes it was a lesson, for sure.
      Rachna recently posted…A New Avid Reader #GratitudeMy Profile

  22. Food for thought, indeed, Rachna.
    I experienced the craziness and pettiness of social media pretty much during my first year of blogging. Strangely – it all started with blogging for me.
    These days, I try my best to just sit on the sidelines and eat the popcorn. But yes, I totally get what you’re saying – sometimes silence is seen as weakness.

    Good on you for putting this up. And don’t fret too much about people who are going to base their thoughts purely on social media interaction.
    Sid recently posted…Hello, Can you hear me?My Profile

  23. Always hard to lose a friend but there are better ways to lose them than through such an impersonal medium like social media. I am nowadays almost out of it and can’t say I am missing it.
    Asha recently posted…Of talking rooms in Kochi BienalleMy Profile

    • I don’t think I will miss it either. These days I stay on it for the sake of the work I do. Personal interaction has really been cut down. In a way, I am taking a step back. The important ones will be a part of my lie even offline. The others, well they don’t matter much.
      Rachna recently posted…A New Avid Reader #GratitudeMy Profile

  24. Oh I can empathize completely! I have had my share of social media squabbles and self righteous defense, when the 2014 general elections were going on in India. And while I did have a strong POV, I was always courteous, and open to listen to any contrarian view, in the interest of a healthy, mutually beneficial discourse.

    But unfortunately a lot of people decided that it was fair game to criticize me, make personal attacks, question my sense of patriotism because I was living abroad, and even insult my family. And that was where I drew the line.

    Ever since then, I have made a conscious effort to stay away from controversy. Every now and then, I may make some general remark, but the minute even that is misconstrued, and the attacks begin, that is when I bail.

    The person gets unfollowed/blocked depending upon the severity of the situation. And normally, these are just random acquaintances, so it’s not really a loss. Though it does hurt, because this person was allowed in my immediate circle, and it makes me question my choices at times.

    But generally speaking, politics and religion are taboo subjects on my blog or social media. They say you must ‘never say never’, but something really big needs to happen for me to ever willing open a discourse on these subjects. Because why attract hate & negativity, when you can do so much good for the same causes, when approached in another way.
    Shantala recently posted…Quarterly Goals Update (Jan – Mar 2017)My Profile

    • Was nodding my head at every word. These days I may just share some article but mostly never post updates /views. It’s just not worth the bad blood. But yes, I’ve questioned my discretion a bunch of times.

  25. I too have unfollowed many over the years, especially those who are into politics or continuously tag others to get some favorites or retweets!

    However, i won’t say they are not friends…just that our frequencies didn’t match when it came to interaction on that platform. Some do understand this aspect, and still talk normally; others take it to heart. I just go with whatever makes me happy.
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