Yes, most people with Internet access have a digital social life. Obviously digital social lives have rules, and there is some consensus about what is good and bad behavior on social media.
In reality I find the rules should not differ much from offline social life. Basic rules of politeness and courtesy apply, like “do onto others as you would like done onto you”. However this is not always the case. Often social media platforms host a rougher tone which would be unacceptable in face-to-face interactions. Likewise, we place a set of expectations on social media relations that we would not dream of placing in real life interactions. In real life we chose when we hear from each other or share a special moment, like a night at the movies. We might not see each other for a while after that. We decide when and where we interact and are not obliged to follow each other around 24 hours a day. Yet we expect full access and attention on social media, and feel rejected or offended if we do not get it whenever we want it.
One thing that particularly bugs me about social media is the implicit obligation to befriend someone if they invite you. Because they are colleagues, acquaintances you like, they have a relationship with someone close to you, etc. I have fallen for it quite a few times. After a while, the number of Facebook friends explodes and you find your social life is taken over by peripherical persons that you are either not ready or not willing to have daily updates from.
Facebook provides us with the opportunity to hide posts from people so we only see posts from those we are really interested in. We can also filter our posts to target the persons we really want to share with. And so the social deception begins. We can pretend to be friends and like everyone, we can be nice. What a bunch of polite hipocrites!
I actually not only like but care about a lot of people. I have long-lasting, deep, fun, healthy relationships with people, and those are the ones I want to prioritize on Facebook too. These relationships are usually valuable because they were built on trust, genuine interest and many personal interactions over the years.
When I have befriended someone mainly out of a sense of obligation I have regretted it every time. I then had 2 options: hide and filter or withdraw and unfriend. For me the only right option is to be truthful and unfriend. To me this only means: I am not ready yet, I need more time to care enough. I probably like you, but I’m not ready for us to be following each other around 24/7.
So, dear Facebook friend, if you don’t care enough to see my posts or share with me, please unfriend me. I will understand. And then who knows? We might even have a chance for building a real, trusting relationship with each other in future.