One of the biggest drawbacks of electronic missives and cyber sociology—and granted there are many—is that language when nuance, innuendo, and gesture is removed, becomes a mysterious form of communication.
Today I reached out to an old friend to ask if it was okay for me to refer to a period of time we had shared together in an article I was writing. When she responded, “I don’t care, do whatever you want,” I was having a tough time trying to decide if it was, “Do whatever you want, you self-important bastard,” or, “Do whatever you want, dear old friend.”
I mean, sure, everyone wants to jump right on the “you’re so paranoid!” bandwagon; but let’s be honest, there is a thin and imperceptible line between paranoid and clueless and frankly, neither outcome is sought after.
The other vexing thing about this wasteland we refer to as Facebook is that it is such a fertile arena for the worst and most subtle bullies to cultivate passive aggression. It is not at all uncommon for a person who would never dream of engaging in an adversarial confrontation with you in person to try and dress you down online.
There’s a funny skit that Louis C.K. did on the Conan O’Brien show where he brings up this exact point. Many people feel a whole lot more comfortable being awful to one another when they don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable visual of hurting someone’s feelings. These social media “frenemies” are toxic and, excuse me for going out on a limb here, but my suggestion is to drop them as soon as you identify them.
Now don’t get it twisted—everybody has an off day once in a while and there will always be a time when a close friend might make an offhand remark that hurts your feelings. These things are totally salvageable. But, when you notice a consistent pattern in which someone always has a little bit of shade at the ready to throw on any little successes you may have, it’s time to cut that off.
Goethe, the 18th century poet and statesman—and most likely one of the first motivational writers—once famously said, “Tell me with whom you consort with, and I will tell you who you are.”
Tony Robbins paraphrased this to, “Want to see your future? Look at your friends.” Either way, the point is still clear. If you are trying to accomplish anything in this life you need to cull the herd. You must prune away all toxicity.
And, even if you are not trying to accomplish anything—even if you are just trying to possess a more mindful existence—there is just no room for this kind of relationship.
Life is a precious gift we are inexplicably blessed with and having it frittered away by negative people is tantamount to driving your new convertible in the rain with the top down. You are just not respecting that gift.
Some may argue that a person cannot get through life without a little unpleasantness and that it is unrealistic to believe that it’s possible to only expect positivity. I don’t argue this point. Negativity is a necessary evil of existing on this planet. However, we have a lot more control over how much of it we will accept than most people realize. In other words, a little bit will inevitably sneak in through the cracks, but no one says we need to leave the storm door open.
What is also helpful about eradicating this sort of influence from your life is that when you focus on and encourage good, happy, and healthy friends, you tend to proliferate more of the same. Try to imagine a life in which you log on to Facebook and all you see on your timeline are helpful posts, positive thoughts, creative poetry, and good news.
This may be a revolutionary thought, but, suffering is an option that no one requires you to choose.
One of my favorite quotes by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer sums this up so perfectly: “You can’t get sick enough to make one person healthy. You can’t get sad enough to make another person happy. You can’t get poor enough to help one person on the planet to get rich. You can’t get hungry enough to feed one starving child.”
So practice a little self-care this week. Lose the frenemies.
Author: Billy Manas
Image: Francisco Osorio/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Sara Karpanen