Due to advances in technology, when we’re finished communicating with someone we can just click a button.
We can unfollow them on Instagram so we don’t have to see their posts. We can unmatch them on Hinge when we realize we’re no longer interested. And the trump card—we can block their number so that we don’t get their phone calls and texts messages.
What if that someone needs to get in touch with us? Not an option.
How has this impacted relationships?
Well, negatively. It starts to make people seem disposal. In one click of a button, it’s as if the person has vanished.
They may be gone from your followers, however this person still exists outside of the cyber world. It makes us forget that there are human beings behind these profiles and phone numbers. Human beings with feelings and thoughts. Human beings we may have connected with and shared intimacy with.
It may only be a click of button, but it could have emotional consequences for both parties.
Why do people do this?
First, feelings are messy and don’t feel good. It seems easier to click a button then partake in addressing our own inner turmoil.
If we block their numbers, we’re no longer required to cope with the anxiety of wondering whether they’ve called or not. If we unfollow them, we don’t have to feel the pain when we see a picture of them with someone else on social media. We would rather avoid the pain than sit in the discomfort.
Next, this behavior can make us feel like we have some control. We may not be able to control what someone else does, but we can unfollow them. No one likes feeling powerless, and now through online profiles we can exert back some of that control. I can choose to block or unfollow someone, and there is nothing the other person can do about it.
Lastly, it is easier—what I refer to as a “cop out.” We can click a button instead of communicating what we disliked or what we’re upset about. Conflict and confrontation are never the most enjoyable experiences, but they are a part of life. Avoiding conflict has led to a generation of ghosting. People ghost rather than taking the initiative to communicate, because apparently sending a text is too much to ask. Somehow, there is the notion that disappearing is acceptable behavior. I say, be an adult and use the 10 seconds to send that text. Remember, there is a human being on the other side of the phone who is feeling confused or rejected or hurt.
Feelings do not necessarily end just because someone is no longer on your list of followers. Sometimes that blue “unfollow” button makes it seem so concise and neat—but nothing about the human heart is neat. It’s messy and often full of pain.
Sometimes I wish it was that easy: a click of the mouse and the memories and feelings disappear in an instant. The pain and heartache gone. But do not let technology fool you. It’s not just a click of a button.
So the next time you unfollow, unmatch, or block someone, remember there is a human on the other side of that device.