The Foibles of Unfriending

I’d not be at all surprised to find that there are armies if doctoral students studying the dynamics of relationships that are primarily based in cyberspace. These anthropologists of digital societies have a lot to work with, no doubt. Today I’ve been sorely tempted to unfriend (or is it de-friend?) an individual on Facebook. This person’s only offense is a strong habit of posting pleas to help a certain social cause. It is not even a cause that I am particularly at odds with, but the sheer volume of material shared is just off-putting.

Matt Keough | Create Your Badge

The problem with unfriending someone is the friend suggest feature. In the real world friends drift apart and there is rarely a formal declaration. You might perceive that an individual has changed or have become more distant. That person can just hush up, slink away and that is that.

But Facebook will “out” you. there have been several occasions when I’ll see a suggestion to friend someoneĀ  I am ABSOLUTELY certain I’ve already friended. This happens when that person has unfriended you without your knowledge.

I can understand why someone would unfriend me. Political views, religious professions and other wedge issues can alienate folks. Personally, unless someone is particularly condescending to opposing viewpoints, I think it is interesting to read other opinions. If for no other reason than to hone a counter-argument if one is ever needed.

In any respect, I’m curious. What would it take for you to “unfriend’ someone on Facebook?

(I’ve decided not to unfreind the individual mentioned. Really, how hard is it to just scroll past something that does not interest you.)

7 thoughts on “The Foibles of Unfriending”

  1. I don’t unfriend, I just hide annoying people from my newsfeed so I don’t have to read their stuff. If I *really* have a hard time with opposing issues or if I think someone would have a problem with MY opinions, I hide my status updates from them.

    I’ve yet to unfriend, but I guess if I found someone I’d friended to be particularly offensive – especially someone I don’t really know – I’d do it.

  2. Cetta – That is very reasonable. I know that hiding updates are an option. I haven’t used that yet. I have unfriended one person, and only because he would post political material that had violent overtones. (If your plan to vote for X, I’ll punch you in the face”)

    Twitter is a totally different deal. I’ll unfollow there in a heartbeat.

  3. Matt,

    My ranting about the GOP is finally getting on your nerves, huh?

    You are right, i am sure someone (probably at BG) is doing a dissertation on the psychosocial ramifications of all this. The social-networking phenomenon is evolving fast enough that morays and rules that normally govern our behaviors in the real world do not really offer much of a guide for the digital world. This is a fascinating topic, and one that I am not qualified to comment on – so that means I will comment !

    IMHO, you have to separate Facebook-world from Face-to-face world, and be selective about who is on there with you in the first place

    In the seminal days of social networking, I was caught up in the rush to have as many friends as possible. My neglected Myspace page is still chocked-full of people that i met at the bar, or that hot massage therapist that gave me her phone number, but never called me. With time, my loins have been cooled by the sobering power brought about by the advent of Facebook. I have learned to screen my friends I am pretty selective about who is on my friend list. It would take some horrendous real-life event, like murdering my Mom, to make me “unfriend” someone. Most folks on my Facebook page are either people that I actually know at the current time, or people that were a part of my life at some point in the past. If someone is getting annoying, I simply block them from my updates. I have done this to about 10 percent of the Face-bookers. This way, they still remain “friends”, but I am not bombarded with static about their interests. I can check their page from time to time, and of course the email function still works.

    Conversely, I have been unfriended by one very sensitive person for a perceived real-life slight on my part. I have also been dropped by a couple of people that I really did not know very well to begin with. And there are people that I deal with daily who are NOT my facebook friends, and that is cool too.

    You could also just drop from Facebook entirely, and come back as an alter-ego, with a select group of people.

  4. Gary,

    Like you, most of my FB friends are people who I know or knew better “back in the day”.

    Having said that, I live in mortal fear that one of my college friends will digitize embarrassing video recording my younger self trying to be entertaining. I guess I could just untag myself as quickly as possible.

    I’m speaking theoretically here, of course.

  5. Ha, Ha, !!! LOL! (that is the hardest i have laughed for a week)

    You are lucky that person’s sound card has a loose input. I heard, hypothetically, of course, that said person already has some low-quality digital copies of hypothetical tapes of you being VERY funny. Your only saving grace might be degradation of tape over time until that person gets a new machine complete with video to Digital functions

    That person is willing to work with you on the release.

  6. Matt,
    I have indeed “unfriended” some distant relatives who seeem to thrive on where you went on vacation, pictures you post,etc. This “famial” gossip is funny to me, but aggravates my wife as she gets calls asking about all these topics. It seemed easier to just unfriend them and only have to deal with them at Christmas!! On the other hand, I have several friends of opposing political and religious viewpoints. These always make for great topics to discuss and I have yet to delete any of these friends. Like you, I like to hear different viewpoints about a wide range of subjects.

  7. I much appreciate this blog about Facebook’s friending and possible defrending policies. In fact, I myself have posted comments and inquiries in an attempt to get the feedback of the possible views of other so called Facebook “Friends” in the recent past months on “my” posts on Facebook.

    It is my opinion that the “Semi-Public” Status of Facebook and its policy rules can at times be quite a double edged sword. For instance, when any particular person should become a Facebook Friend with any other particular person and then later (for whatever reason) “Block” or “Censor” that so called friend it can become the “Blocked Shot Heard Around the Facebook World” and elsewhere for that matter. Many people likely can in fact really take this kind of thing very personally and get quite upset and bitter over such a thing. I could understand the need to do this (blocking) in extreme circumstances and if and when anyone would really act seriously inappropriate. Otherwise, it is much better – in my view to – be very prudent and to think long beforehand and hard into whether or not if someone will be comfortably and suitably acceptable as a trustworthy and reasonably compatible Facebook Friend. Its much better to be reasonably sure beforehand, and much worse to have to later find the need to “Block” a particular individual and find out that this person became quite bitter and upset over it.

    With all of the above said. In my opinion Facebook can be a great avenue for rediscovering a connection to true old friends (not simply a Facebook “Label” of a Friend or a Fair-weather Facebook Friend) and can in fact be great for connecting to blood relatives which you otherwise have lost touch with or perhaps have not even really ever got to know very well otherwise. In that way, it can in fact be invaluable. Such is the case-in-point with me and you and our other relatives on the Keough side of our family (cousin) Matt.

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