How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

hurt feelings crying 240x300 - How Facebook Hurt My FeelingsI’m a fairly self-assured person. Sure, I have days where I wonder about my place in the world or why, despite my best efforts, I continue to have jiggly arms. Still, most days, I’m confident of my abilities, my fabulous sense of humor, my remarkably average looks and my good fortune to know lots of killer-smart people. How, then, with all this self-confidence, did Facebook (a thing, not even a person) manage to hurt my feelings?

How this happened really isn’t as interesting as the fact that it happened at all and what I realized about myself as a result.

I am fairly particular about who I connect with on Facebook. I don’t accept all friend requests, though I’m connected with a wide variety of people. They range from people I’ve known for years to family members to business contacts to a few I don’t even remember how we met.

Strategies for using Facebook run the gamut from closely manage to wide open. Many people connect only with close friends and family, while others connect with every warm blooded mammal able to click to send a friend request. I encourage everyone to set the parameters which work best for them. This is the reason I didn’t take it personally when a very well known tech blogger declined my Facebook friend request. Never mind that he’s warmly greeted me each time we’ve seen each other; it is still his choice and I respect that.

This respect for people using Facebook as they choose was put to the test recently.

I was surprised one day to find that my access to a friend’s Facebook profile was suddenly limited, meaning that I could not view her wall. Facebook users know that this is where the magic happens – all the news, gossip, updates and conversation. Why would she have blocked me? Had I done something to offend her? While we had only known each other for a couple of years, I thought we were friends. Was I wrong? And, why the change of heart? We used to communicate on Facebook. She commented on what I was doing; I did likewise on her updates. If there were relationship red flags, I had completely missed them.

Her tech-savviness is light-years beyond my own. She carefully manages her social sharing and connections. I knew chances of her having changed this accidentally ranged from zero to nil. If this had been someone who isn’t as diligent about managing their online profiles, I might have assumed they had made a mistake.

My mind was reeling – and that surprised me. I tried to figure out what exactly about this hurt me. Did I really care if I had been shut-out on Facebook? Was my self-esteem that fragile? It didn’t take but a moment to figure out that this wasn’t about Facebook at all, it was coming to terms with the fact that I was wrong about our friendship. Up front rejection is one thing, but having someone change their mind about you after you’ve been friends for awhile is something else altogether. Apparently, yes, my self-esteem is indeed that fragile.

Once it dawned on me that this isn’t high school (after about 2 minutes of wallowing in self-pity), I sent my friend a note asking if I had done anything to offend her and, if so, I apologized. I also made sure to say that I supported her decision to include or exclude anyone from any of her online content – a very genuine statement, even if I don’t happen to personally like the result.

In the end, it turned out that somehow Facebook had totally screwed up her privacy settings and a bunch of her friends now had limited access. I was just the first one to notice it, so she had no idea.

Still, it shocked me to see how a little check-box deep in the Facebook privacy settings led to my own feelings of self-doubt and rejection.  Two things occurred to me: 1. I appreciate my friends and kind of want them to stick around, and 2. If I own-up to being hurt (albeit temporarily) by this, I’m going to look like a wimp. (As you can see, #2 isn’t of much importance to me.)

As the lines between virtual connections and real-world connections become increasingly blurred, it isn’t simply technology and protocol we need to consider. We need to remember that there are real people on the other end of every decision we make. We should always feel comfortable setting our own parameters as long as we consider and are willing to be accountable for how those decisions feel to others.

P.S. – Please check your Facebook privacy settings every now and then just to be sure everything is in proper order.

Image courtesy of chefranden

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  1. knitoneone September 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    And love the pic you chose! RT @IreneKoehler: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

    • Irene Koehler September 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks! I was kind of making fun of myself and my fragile ego when I chose that image. 🙂

  2. TaichiCharlie September 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    RT @IreneKoehler: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. Anca September 15, 2010 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    The problem with that little checkbox is that it obfuscates the people behind it.

    Thanks for writing this! It’s a gentle reminder to never make assumptions when it comes to technological intermediaries for conversation.

    • Irene Koehler September 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      I appreciate your comment, Anca. It felt a little risky to admit that my feelings were hurt, but I had hoped that might be some value in sharing the story. When connecting online, it is indeed all too easy to forget to think about others.

  4. Shellie September 15, 2010 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    I had dinner with a quite good friend last night who had unfriended me some time ago. She lives in Australia, and I was disappointed when she limited my access to her page because we see one another so rarely. As she marveled at how much my son had grown since we’d last seen one another, I joked that she wouldn’t have been so surprised had she stayed friends with me on FB. 😉

    It turns out that she was semi-stalked soon after joining and so had deleted her profile altogether. Indeed it was a rather delicate situation because there was a professional relationship with the person. So her “defriending” had nothing to do with wanting to keep me at arms’ length, despite the fact that — yes — I had turned this into a story that was All About Me.

    People use this tool in many different ways, and for those of us who are particularly active, our own investment in the community is a reflection of our real-life engagement. So, yeah. A defriending or privacy lock-down can feel just that tiny bit more personal for us than it might for another. 😉

    • Irene Koehler September 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Hey, Shellie. I’m glad that I’m not alone is turning something done by someone else into a situation which was “All About Me.” Your story is another good reminder that just talking to the other person about may reveal an entirely different situation than the one we had envisioned.

  5. IreneKoehler September 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  6. mwalkercom September 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    RT @IreneKoehler: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings (Wonderful! And I love the picture, too!)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. whitespider1066 September 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    RT @IreneKoehler How Facebook Hurt My Feelings – interesting post

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  8. jimconnolly September 15, 2010 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    RT @IreneKoehler: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  9. FEBridgetTring September 16, 2010 at 3:13 am - Reply

    RT @jimconnolly: RT @IreneKoehler: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  10. WillcandoCoach September 16, 2010 at 4:42 am - Reply

    @IreneKoehler How Facebook Hurt My Feelings .Thanks Irene. Great read. All the natural assumptions we make at times!

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  11. cncx September 16, 2010 at 9:42 am - Reply

    RT @AlmostSavvy: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  12. teriincali September 16, 2010 at 9:54 am - Reply

    RT @IreneKoehler: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  13. AlmostSavvy September 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    How Facebook Hurt My Feelings (Yes, I am that fragile)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  14. Scott Byorum September 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    “Remarkably average looks…”

    That is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in awhile. Nice post… it’s almost like social media has become the adult version of the thumb and blanket. Something changes with either and we go into a tail spin!

    Best regards,


    • Irene Koehler September 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Scott. Thanks for the comment. Social networking is likely not so different than in-person relationships, only more public and both the good and the bad are amplified.

      Surely you aren’t suggesting that I oversold my “remarkably average looks” – are you? 🙂

  15. Debi September 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Irene,

    I had inadvertently done the same to many of my friends. The problem occurs when you customize the default setting in your update box. Anyone who is excluded from receiving the update will be locked out of your wall. If you send an update to a select group but you don’t make it your default, the people who are excluded will still be able to get to your wall but won’t see the specific post.

    Hope that makes sense!


  16. DaylightGambler September 17, 2010 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Just read: How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  17. JackieWeber September 17, 2010 at 4:14 am - Reply

    Staying real with @IreneKoehler – How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  18. sue_anne September 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    RT @irenekoehler How Facebook Hurt My Feelings

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  19. Percy ?????? September 19, 2010 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Yeah, i think taking things personal had been a problem over social networks, especially when you don’t know what the person over the other really mean. The way you resolved the problem is the best way to approach issues like this.I know a bunch of my fb friends had limit my access to their wall, i think this might be the same technical issue in this case.
    Thanks for sharing

  20. Esperanza September 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    I loved the article. I think we take it personally because it feels like a personal rejection. It’s like not being invited to a party all our friends have been invited to. It leaves us a bit baffled.

    I actually have a different slant on this similar story. One of my sisters blocked me on facebook. I thought, “Surely this must have been done in error” so I emailed her about it.

    Nope, it was intentional. She said “Your posts annoy me” and said if I promise not to be so annoying, we could be Facebook friends again.

    I could make no such promise. I am me – marvelous me – annoying or not! So I wished her a Facebook goodbye and rode off into the sunset…

    • Irene Koehler September 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your story, Esperanza. Good for you for being able to keep this in perspective. Keep on being marvelous!

  21. timf November 22, 2010 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Hi Irene, I really enjoyed reading your article, it clicked exactly with the strange feelings I’m having at the moment! I really think Facebook has introduced a new kind of social anxiety, one that simply wasn’t there before. A few days ago I went online to see that my friend count had gone down by 1. I don’t have a huge number, frankly because I’m not a naturally sociable animal but when someone goes missing, I miss them! It turned out the person who was missing was a work colleague who I thought I was on good terms with, but who seems to have blocked me. I’ve spent the last few days feeling depressed, and going over in my head what I could have said or done to upset her. And I can’t figure it out. I’m now divided by whether I should speak to her and ask if I’ve upset her (but risk looking a complete idiot or making her feel even more awkward), or simply let it go and be forever wondering “what went wrong?” Everything was simple before Facebook, that’s for sure 🙂

    • Irene Koehler November 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm - Reply

      I can really relate! As you read, I decided to tactfully ask the other person while making sure to be clear that I respect her right to include/exclude people as it feels right to her. Had it been a different person, though, I may have chosen a different course of action. Good luck!

  22. Angie Paris November 30, 2012 at 10:58 am - Reply

    I think everyone feels a sting from facebook from time to time. In the normal realm of things, what’s an appropriate photo to show one friend is a punch in the gut to another. The blanket “post” button submits to all who so see, leaving no room for sensitivity in the real world between different friends. Facebook is a bittersweet friend and foe – As good as it is bad – in my opinion…

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