5 Secretly Toxic People That Don't Deserve a Place in Your Social Media Life

Jade-Ceres Violet D. Munoz

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It’s National Unfriend Day! Ten years ago, Jimmy Kimmel announced that he’s had enough and declared November 17th as the day to do a little housekeeping on your social media friends list. Seems harsh, right? It actually isn’t. Unfriending people on social media could be good for your mental health. The trick here is to choose the right people to remove from your social media life.

Here’s my list of 5 people that you need to unfriend today:

1. People you don’t know - Start your list of people to cut with this set. If you don’t know who they are and how they even ended up on your friend list, they really need to go. You may be posting information on your Facebook profile that can be used against you in some way -- whether to scam you or as evidence in any court cases you may have going on.

According to Family Lawyer Gary Fishbein of Brot•Gross•Fishbein•LLP, "The review of social media accounts happens more frequently in child custody cases because badmouthing a soon-to-be-ex and the mother/father of your child on social media can impact the outcome." This was mentioned in an interview with Attorney at Law Magazine.

Sometimes, the information we share about ourselves can cause devastating emotional or financial pain without us ever even realizing it. It is best to keep that kind of information away from the prying eyes of people who may not have good intentions for following you on your social media channel.

2. Friends who tag you on unflattering things - It starts with getting tagged on one or two unflattering photos, but it can quickly escalate to more than that. Just ask Lindsey Stone. In October 2012 Lindsey Stone and her friend Jamie Schuh visited Washington DC as caregivers for a group of learning-disabled adults. It was a fun, memorable trip for the group. Stone and her friend had a running joke of taking stupid photos in front of signs and statues. When they visited the Arlington National Cemetery and saw the sign for “Silence and Respect,” Stone decided to pose in front of it pretending to shout and flipping her middle finger. Jamie posted it on Facebook and tagged Stone. A week later, she was at the center of an internet shaming storm. A "Fire Lindsey Stone" Facebook page was created and had thousands of followers. She ended up losing her job. “Literally overnight, everything I knew and loved was gone," said Stone in an interview with The Guardian. She soon fell into depression and didn't leave home for a year.

3. The purveyors of toxic positivity - If you’re after taking care of your mental health, consider removing people who display traits of toxic positivity.

Dr. Konstantin Lukin's article on Psychology Today defines toxic positivity as “the concept that keeping positive, and keeping positive only, is the right way to live your life." These could be people who always tell you to “stay positive” or to “look at the bright side”. Positivity in itself is not bad, but it can become toxic if you are constantly forced to look away and accept what you really feel. Removing toxic positivity friends is especially important if you are currently suffering from any form of mental illness. Life is hard enough without someone insisting you just “get over your depression”. They need to be removed from your life today.

4. People who don’t “spark joy” - Use the KonMari method for cleaning up your social channels. If you see someone who always spews negativity on their feed and it directly affects your mental health wellness, feel free to tidy up and get rid of them.

There are many types of personalities on Facebook. Keep those who provide inspiration and entertainment value, but get rid of those who have too much bad energy -- the people who do nothing but complain and spread anger on Facebook. You should also look into cutting ties with those who have acted inappropriately directly towards you by spreading rumors, constantly posting bad comments on your photos or posts or those who pick fights with you for no reason. You’ll feel so much better when you finally cut that cord.

5. People who don’t align with your core values - Yes, you’re allowed to have them and you’re allowed to choose to only be exposed to people who have the same set of beliefs as you do. If you’re a vegan and someone from your Facebook feed constantly posts things that mock veganism, you need to remove them from your life.

Studies from the University of Colorado Denver shed light on the types of friends that often get unfriended and their emotional response to it. In a press release, the study’s co-author Christopher Sibona speculated that people choose to sever online contact with people who disagree with their religion or political beliefs. These are the two most polarizing topics that often cause people to unfriend others, and rightly so. Why have that unneeded stress in your life? You can agree to disagree with people but if what they say online is already crossing the border of being offensive to your personal principles, then it is time to cut the ties.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social networks have thrown us into a world of hyperconnectivity. While it has been a good way to stay connected to people with love and care for, especially during a pandemic when social distancing is the new normal. However, not all of these connections are good for us.

Don’t be afraid to unfriend people. You owe it to yourself -- today and any other day -- to create a positive social media environment for yourself. A 2016 study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that "positive interactions, social support, and social connectedness on social networking sites were consistently related to lower levels of depression and anxiety, whereas negative interaction on social networking sites was related to higher levels of depression and anxiety."

It really comes down to putting your mental health above that social awkwardness of removing people. If you’re not ready to commit to unfriending someone just yet, you can always choose to unfollow them instead.

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