The option to “mute” people on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter gives us control of what and who we see. It allows us to avoid annoying content, like your uncle that constantly shares COVID-19 conspiracy theories or that old high school friend that uses Twitter as their diary. The beauty of “muting” people is that you’re not directly blocking them; blocking seems more finite and harsh. Not to mention that person will probably be offended once they realizes what you’ve done.
If we’re being honest, we all have someone on our friends list that we’ve secretly silenced. Now if only we could mute people in real life….how great would that be?
The truth is you absolutely can. As a matter of fact, you definitely should practice muting people in real life. The same attitude you have towards curating a social media feed that’s pleasing to scroll through is the same attitude you should have towards your actual social life. If you don’t want to see what they post online, why would you tolerate them in person?
Take a moment and think about what happens when you see content you dislike. First, you read or view it. You feel irritated, angry, or another negative emotion. You probably dwell in these emotions for a moment before you continue scrolling. It will most likely take a few more posts until you ultimately decide to mute that person. But every time that cycle of negative emotion occurs, that’s a waste of your time and energy. When we allow people that make us unhappy to be in our life, this same cycle occurs.
“If you don’t want to see what they post online, why would you tolerate them in person?”
Of course, every situation is different, and it’s not always easy. This person could be a family member or even a friend. Completely cutting them off would be similar to blocking them online, and it’s not worth the drama. Muting someone is a gentler approach. It could be as simple as limiting their physical presence in your life.
For example: I had someone in my life that I used to call my best friend. When we were younger, I loved their sarcastic personality. But as we got older, they became less sarcastic and instead just plain cranky. Their apathy was depressing to be around. I tried to be an optimistic and helpful friend, but I was often shot down. Anytime I was successful in my work or personal life, it seemed to offend them. It began to weigh on me and I started making myself smaller thinking it would make them happier.
When I realized how one-sided the friendship was, I knew what I had to do. There was no huge confrontation or argument. I just slowly stopped texting and calling them as much. No more brunch or happy hour dates because I knew those conversations would bring me down. Yes, I still like their posts and send them messages on birthdays or holidays. But there is no need for them to be a part of my daily life anymore. I no longer have to deal with their negative energy.
Making this decision was hard, but ultimately it made me a much happier person. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Until I took the initiative to mute that person IRL, I didn’t realize how much they had affected my emotional state. It also made me realize that who I spend time with is my choice. I deserve to be around people that respect and support me.
And so do you. Cultivating a positive circle of people around you is beneficial for your mental and emotional health. Remember, you have the same control over your physical space as you do over your social media space. So mute the negativity and be intentional about who you keep in your life.