Many of my clients express confusion and concern about the new complexities of human relationships that have resulted from the advent of Facebook and other Web sites that make you easily accessible to the world, including people from your past. I, personally, took myself off of Facebook after about two weeks precisely for this reason.
Clients often ask what my take is on posting yourself on Facebook and similar sites, and what to do when people contact you from the past that you’re not sure you want to reconnect with. So in this short article, I’m going to share my thoughts on this topic in the hopes that it may help you navigate the often rocky river of the ever-expanding “here I am all the time for all to see” technology that we are now “blessed” with …
I am someone who likes to keep things simple wherever possible so what immediately comes to mind for me is how things were in days gone by. Back then, people knew a small circle of people within their own communities and tended to not move far away. In fact, it was common for multiple generations of one family to all live under the same roof! As bizarre as this may seem to us now, it was the norm for much of recorded history and the way we live now would probably seem bizarre to people from back then.
Also, there were more limited ways for people to communicate — it was either in person, or by letter. Later on, telegrams and telephones came into being so communication options expanded, but never before throughout human history have we had so many ways to get in touch with each other. Everywhere you go, people are texting each other or calling each other on cell phones, e-mailing, or sending messages on one of many communication Web sites like Facebook.
There are definitely advantages to this: worried parents can keep tabs on their teens, people can get help when their cars break down in the middle of nowhere, and we can find people we have lost contact with and find out how they’re doing and what they are up to. I think things get a bit more confusing when we have people from our pasts contacting us who we don’t really want to reconnect with.
It seems to me that a lot of people assume that just because we are easier to find, that we welcome everybody who contacts us. I know from personal and professional experience, and this is not often the case.
While there is no right answer on how to deal with these situations, I have come up with some suggestions, which I hope you find helpful:
Esther’s Top Five Tips For Managing “Blasts From The Past”
When you receive an invitation to reconnect from someone you used to know, remember that you have the right to choose to accept or decline the invitation. Just because they want to reconnect doesn’t mean you want to or have to.
- Take at least 24 hours to mull it over before responding so you don’t end up doing something you will regret later. Sometimes it’s difficult to rid yourself of someone you mistakenly opened the communication door to if you later change your mind.
- When considering reconnecting, reflect on what would be gained by doing so. For example, if this person treated you badly in the past, they will probably do it again in future. If, however, you really enjoyed this person’s company and were very good to you, you might gain a whole new friendship that would serve you well at this time in your life.
- Consider the reasons for why this person is no longer in your life — often, it’s for a good reason. For example, if it’s an ex-lover who you were totally addicted to, but made you feel unhinged, it’s probably not wise to invite this person back to mess with your peace of mind now.
- If at all possible, try to find out as much as you can about who this person is now by reading their “profile” (if possible) — you can usually get a good idea whether you’d be suited to be friends in the present by getting some background information.
Choose what is best for you at this point in your life. Maintain your network of friends and family who bring joy to your life.
Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counselor, is the author of the soon-to-be-released book and audio program, “It’s Not About the Food: A Woman’s Guide To Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies”
(www.endyoureatingdisorder.com) and “Dump That Chump”( www.dumpthatchump.com), and “What Your Mama Can’t or Won’t Teach You”( www.guidebooktowomanhood.com). Sign up for her free monthly e-zine, Women’s Community Counsellor, to uplift and inspire women at: www.estherkane.com