The Unfriend/Unfollow Dilema

Unfriend

Sometimes, I really hate social media. Sometimes, I really love it. Today though, I mostly hate it and the predicaments it puts us into. I long for a simpler time when it was easy to stop being someone’s friend. You just ignored their calls and texts. Done. It was swell. But now, on top of ignoring their calls and texts, you have to unfollow or defriend them. And for some reason *that* makes you seem/feel a lot worse. There is something so aggressive and hostile about unfollowing or defriending someone. Why is that? Why does it seem worse to unfollow someone than it does to ignore them/talk mad shiz behind their back??

Because social media has completely warped our way of thinking. Say you have a “friend” on Facebook you haven’t spoken to in 10 years. Not a wall message, not a poke, no communication whatsoever. So, you decide to un-friend them. Now, all of a sudden you’re a jerk. You’ve instantly become an evil troll who doesn’t deserve to have friends to unfriend in the first place. In short, people get pissed. There is something so inherently hostile about unfriending or unfollowing someone that people tend to react extremely. That is, if they even notice. There is always a chance they won’t notice. Nevertheless they always notice. There is even a Twitter app that will tell you who has unfollowed you that week. Way to be a narc Twitter. That’s not cool. And once they know, you become a social media pariah. But what’s the point of social media if you don’t even like the people you follow or are friends with on Facebook. Why engage at all if it’s just going add unnecessary drama to your life? If social media is about connecting with people you like or might like, then why is it so unacceptable to unfollow or defriend people you don’t or won’t like?  Why do I feel worse about unfollowing someone then I do for not talking to them anymore? What’s the big deal? Does social media rule our lives? What’s it all about????

Do you unfriend or unfollow?

So many questions……my brain hurts.

107 thoughts on “The Unfriend/Unfollow Dilema

  1. I don’t think unfriending is nice. Why say “no” to a friend? Unfriending does not open a door, it closes a door. Why not write to someone whom you have not heard from, or pick up the phone and ask how they are doing? Why not come to the aid of someone who is lonely and wanting some company? We need more compassion, listening, caring, and love in this world, not hostility.

  2. I have no real friends anyway. I just friend everyone at my little graduate school. I want to see what they are writing. But recently, someone I know “in person” and not from my school unfriended me. It hurt real bad and that’s why I Googled and found you, to see if unfriending is hostile and to collect ideas to see how I should approach this couple (it is a friend and her spouse). From reading all this I get the idea that they wanted to send me a very clear message….but my dog loves this woman and to my dog there is no Facebook and my dog unfriends no one. There has been this uncomfortable silence. They are far too mature to engage in this type of behavior when all they had to do was to hide me. Yes, they are tech savvy enough to know you can do this.

    Julie

  3. I don’t unfriend people very often, simply because I don’t see the point. I can hide them from my newsfeed if I want to. Out of curiosity I installed a tool that allows me to see who ufriended me, and occasionally I’ll notice that I’ve been ufriended by someone who still shares lots of mutual friends with me (in one case 95). Rarely does this happen with anyone I actually care to remain friends with, but it does make me wonder what their reasoning is, but it always seems like it would be in poor taste to ask.

  4. The potential drama in unfriending someone is just not worth it, I’ve decided. Especially if you have day to day contact. Instead you can just unsubscribe from their feed and block them from what you don’t want them to read.

  5. Why do they always have to notice? I’ve noticed that they do notice and yet as you said, not a comment or a poke or a prod in who knows how long? But you unfriend and they are all of a sudden noticing.
    The social media esteem has me doubting myself….sigh

  6. Just read an article where–I kid you not–some woman BURNED SOMEONE’S HOUSE DOWN for unfriending her. It is never gonna be that serious….

    As for unfollowing, at least on WordPress I can Follow but not necessarily get them in my email. So I can check them at my *snicker* leisure….

  7. I can totally relate to this post. I wish simpler times when the only way to get in touch with someone was to either call them or write to them. Now I have people telling me “important” things via Facebook. Not very classy. I just feel that with all these social networks, people don’t even make an effort to keep in touch because seeing someone’s Facebook updates are enough.

    I am currently facing the very same dilemma of wanting to unfriend someone but just couldn’t do it because even though she deserved to be “unfriended” I just didn’t feel like being the “bad guy”…

  8. I feel your pain. I did a fb clean-up a while back, because it was difficult to connect with my close friends when there was so much wasted stuff on my page. After I did it, I spent a whole week praying that they wouldn’t notice or just think that I made a mistake. I don’t use twitter (though I’m registered) and I didn’t know about the app, damn.
    I want to do another clean-up, but now you’ve scared me :-)

  9. I agree with you, social media has corrupted our society. It has also taken the personal aspects away from communication.

    I ‘clean out’ my friends list on a regular basis when it starts to get a little much.
    I don’t need ten thousand friends…and if you are that special, create a fan page so people can ‘like’ you. I’m not offended if i’m unfriended, because we probably weren’t really friends and I would have gotten around to it. (or something was taken out of context and they were offended)

    I do see your point though, a lot of people are going to loose it if you take away the access to stalk you. Facebook is personal, and you shouldn’t allow access to just ANYONE.

      • That is how I look at it. Some of can handle having a small list of friends, but of course we have those who think they can’t function unless they have 1,000 friends. So when you unfriend them, for whatever reason, its a nuclear war. I don’t know anyone who knows that many people. I mean REALLY knows them. I say what we share on Facebook is going to bite us in the ass…so be mindful now. It won’t hurt so bad when it finally does…haha! At any rate, it was a great post! =]

  10. Glad to know I’m not the only one to deal with this. Another issue I have had to deal with is snarkiness on my wall. A couple of “friends” had a snarky comment for everything I posted. One guy got mad when I said something about it and was so upset that he blocked me on FB. I laughed at that one. Then he was still so mad about it 2 weeks later that he blocked a mutual friend because of guilt by association. :) I’m really bad, I suppose.

  11. I unfriend and don’t think twice about it. If we haven’t spoken in so long, that person couldn’t possibly dare to contact me to tell me how upset they are. Win. Win.

  12. It’s rather frustrating. I’m one of those people with hundreds of facebook friends. I’m pretty sure that every single person that went to my old high school has friended me, as well as people that I vaguely remember meeting at parties in college. I’ve considered doing a massive culling, but I don’t want to offend people by de-friending them….

  13. love your blog..its like you went into my head:) I just mute/block people…unfriended causes wars amongst casual friends and associates…as well as passive aggressive posts about unfriending.

  14. I’ve always been very careful about those things. If you didn’t speak to me when were in school together thirty years ago, why do you want to “friend” me now? I always assume they want to see my picture to decide if I ever grew out of my ugly-duckling phase (I didn’t) or if I got fat (I had two children…what do you think happened?)

    If I am not sociable in the “real” world, why should I change for the ethereal environment that is a social network? I could, like a lot of other people, talk about how wonderful my life is, how beautiful my children are, and pretend I’m someone else, but I don’t have the energy nor the inclination for such things.

    I will “unfriend” people if they consistently express views that are offensive to others who are among my friends. I can have healthy, positive discussions with people of opposing views, but once they get offensive and attack others unnecessarily…unfriend…and if Jiminy Cricket starts complaining, I have bug spray for that. :)

  15. Where’s the secret “friend” list for social media that means “Don’t tell them I’m not following them, in case I change my mind or they’re prone to violence when rejected, but don’t show them anything about me or show me anything about them?” Maybe it’s called the Limbo list or the Unfriended Friends list or something.

  16. It took a lot for my best friend and I had to unfriend a former close friend of ours. We riled ourselves up, got pissed and then together (over the phone) pushed unfriend b/c we were such wimps. Luckily we realized how stupid we were acting. We both had reached out by calling, writing letters and texting this woman only to be ignored for over a year. Things were in her court so why in the hell were so afraid to cut electronic ties?

  17. Interesting post!
    I have just had a massive Facebook “cull”, after realising that the majority of my 800 “friends” on Facebook are people who I met a couple of time at university, and have not seen or spoken to since. Now I’m down to 270… and I have to say it’s so refreshing to have my news feed full of people who I actually know and care about! I find the idea of people I hardly know being able to effectively “stalk” my every move and see everything about my life online a little creepy.. and I have to say it’s incredibly liberating to delete people who you’ve never actually liked, not to mention ex-boyfriends!

  18. I always announce on my status that I’m having a “Friends Clear Out” and that I will be removing people that I either don’t see in real life, speak to on Facebook or don’t find their posts amusing. I will then have the clear out and re-post “Congratulations to those who made the cut!”.

    I don’t see it as a personal thing, it’s just that why would you want to be friends with someone who isn’t actually your friend or acquaintance? My Facebook is pretty personal and I don’t want all and sundry to read my posts, so I make my profile private and only accept or make friend requests to people I actually know. However, some people want as many friends as possible and all the power to them, but that’s not me. I want my News Feed to be relevant and photos to be shared with people I trust.

    I wouldn’t take offense if someone unfriended me unless they are a real friend, in which case I’d just ask them “what’s wrong?”…

  19. I took the easy way out. I deactivated my account and started a new one.! For some reason, ignoring friend requests are a lot easier than unfriending someone. Unfriending – the word brings back memories of little kids in the playground – I don’t wanna friiiiiiiend you!! *pout*, maybe that’s why it seems so much harder to do?

  20. Unfriend. It happens. I hardly unfriend, I usually block/hide them.

    I have about 290 friends on FB and know almost all of them personally, in real life. Family, my kids’ friends & their parents, high school friends, college friends, new friends, coworkers & ex-coworkers. I have a handful of people on my friends list that I have never met. I also lock my profile down so if you’re not my friend you can’t see anything.

    And I’m totally ok with it if someone unfriends me or blocks me. It’s been done… surprisingly by the guy who use to bully me in high school. *shrug*

    BTW I enjoy reading your blog now that I’ve found it. :-)

  21. lol I have been defriended a few times, yeah, for some reason it just sucks to be dropped like that. for me it’s because someone actively looks at your name and your face and decides right then and there, that you are NOT a friend or whatever. for me being de-friended is a final decision, while being ignored means I’m still on the pending file…haha it’s easy to un-ignore someone, but to re-friend a friend whom you have previously de-friended, nah uh … I don’t accept those requests lol i’m just silly that way:)

    fun post!

  22. I love your point of view. I got a rash when I unfriended some people that never, I mean never, wrote a thing on my wall. I felt like the whole FB thing was false and the second I unfriended them, well suddenly they were offended. But hey, being an FB-stalking-Friend is not the same to me as the other friends I have and if it is a borderline friendship anyway, you’re outta here.

  23. There are very few people on my FB friend list that I don’t communicate with regularly, but for the ones whom I don’t talk to, I tend to hide their every-second-of-the-day status updates. Less messy that way. But how does one defriend someone who is also friends with all of your other friends? Rather than creating conflict (which I avoid at all costs), I suck it up. Luckily, I use my BlackBerry and only check FB if I get notified that someone has posted something on my wall (when it works)–so I’m rarely seeing what anyone else has to say anyway. I’m sneaky like a rogue like that. :D

  24. I am an experienced unfriender/unfollower. If I realize that I really shouldn’t have accepted a friend request or followed someone in the first place, I will gladly say “bu-bye”. At this point, I don’t quite remember who I have let go of!

    I also enjoy blocking folks and reporting spam on Twitter. I consider it to be my Twival Duty… it’s like making a Twitizens Arrest. Hahaha :-)

    What I didn’t realize, however, is that Twitter will tell you who has unfollowed you. Are you serious? Just when I was content believing that folks will have to search hard to find out why their follower count dropped, here you go telling me that Twitter will notify them anyway. Great! Now I have a slight ounce of remorse for unfollowing some folks… just not enough remorse to keep me from doing it again in the future. :-D

  25. I just hide people – so I am not bothered by them . Unfriend seems hostile and unnessicarily so . Most of the hidden people are just peope I had a connection with , but don’t any more. Interesting, I can’t seem to friend anyone that was mean to me in high School

  26. Here’s an anecdote on how I was unfriended. Facebook Friend (FBF) posted a “hugging kittens” video on FB. I recognized it as something similar to one that my software recognized as virus-ridden. I asked FBF in the comment field to confirm that she indeed posted the video herself. She replied that she did, and when I wrote back “OK,” that message was blocked. Apparently, she was offended by the attempt at verification, and for diligently protecting my computer, I was unfriended.

    I believe it was lame of her to do that, but I remembered she was the first person to accept my friend request. *Sigh.*

  27. I unfollow and unfriend people I don’t like on a regular basis. Quite often I have a clean out of my facebook friends and get rid of all the people who are annoying or, or don’t talk to me because there really is no point in them spamming my page with stuff I don’t give a toss about. I felt guilty when I first started but now I almost feel a vindictive pleasure in getting rid of a person I don’t like.

  28. I unfriend, but only if i’m positive I WILL NOT need that contact, or friendship, or acquaintance in the future. That sounds bad, but when you have a falling out or just have no need for each other obviously you shouldn’t be obligated to be friends online. HOWEVER, if they have the same interests as me and I may need them for job opportunities or SOMETHING i’m going to keep you! Fact.

  29. There is another dilemma: what to do after a break up, for example, before the internet you just had to ended up your relationship and comunicate to the people you care. Now you have to 1) eliminate your relationship on facebook 2)Unfriend if it is necessary 3) Unfollow. In my case, with my boyfriend we share facebook, twitter, whatsapp, pingchat, liveprofile, foursquare, getglue, miso, etc. Every possible social network there is.
    It can be a good thing or a bad one….

    • Well, this is just my two cents because I’m from (what I will assume) is an older, thus different generation than you. I learned the hard way– and my social media connection to my ex was simply on FB– Perhaps it is best to keep that relationship status ‘private’? Of course, all of your dear friends will know about your boyfriend/the relationship anyhow. But having it all out there for just anyone to read about, follow every nuance of what is between you two? It’s definitely NOT for me. I think I’d wait until I was married or something similar/permanent before changing my status on FB.

  30. What makes it hostile to others I think is the fact that the person does not know why they are being unfriended or unfollowed. Even the friends that I do like and I am close to post things that I find annoying. I may be a bit of an anomaly here but I’ve never unfriended anyone or had the desire to. Can’t you just ignore their posts just like you ignore your weird cousin who posts things like “today I am grateful for fuzzy blankets, iced peppermint mocha and finding $5 in the dryer!” (actual post) The fact is that our society gets caught up in their right to an explanation about things which is futile. Life is a mystery and the sooner we accept that, the better.

  31. When I left facebook and came back (addict much?) I had some trouble where my friends list was deleted to 13 people. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise becuase I got to re-choose after announcing to the world I had left, and when I did come back i had a nice clean slate of FB add friend possibilities.

    I decided when I came back to it that I would only post things that I wouldn’t care who read (my boss, my mom, my arch-enemy, etc) and very seldome have pictures etc up, use the privacy controls, and take them down when I don’t need them there anymore.

    If I was to stop being friends with someone on my list, i’d cut them. But I imagine they’d know we weren’t friends (because I am pretty blunt). If it was someone I just wanted to troll their FB because I hadn’t seen them in 10 years and they never talk to me…. well who’s fault is that? This is why you feel bad – because you hesitated (likely, I am guessing) when you clicked that friend accept button (or add friend button) and are thinking about it now. I know – i was there. But now that I don’t use my FB for a personal tally on my life… much easier. It’s just like a telephone now (with that hip blue and white interface).

  32. Within 2 weeks of accepting a friend request on Face Book from my younger sister – we have a loooong history of sibling rivalry – I defriended her. What an uproar! Inbox msgs telling me she hated my eff’ng guts and other deeply insulting attacks. Whew! What a relief to be rid of that little bitch. It was just neccessary.

    As far as ‘unfollow’ing a blog…I only do that when I have too many subscriptions and am not reading some. Gets the clutter out of email and wordpress notifications. Plus if someone blogs negatively and I don’t want to hear that, I just end it. It’s about creating your cyber-life the way you want it to be. Try not to feel bad about it. It leaves room for new content to come into your life.

  33. I unfollow and unfriend, but for me it’s harder to unfollow a blog. I don’t know WHY, when I’m unfriending someone I actually knew at some time in my life, whereas when I unfollow a blog I’ve never met he or she.

    Strange.

  34. I used to delete a bunch of friends every six months or so. I just didn’t want people I don’t have contact with any more having access to all those details about my life. Only one ever re-added me and sent a message asking why i got rid.

    These days I add anyone and everyone and never unfriend -why? Because I’m whoring out my blog and I realised I get a lot of hits from facebook!

    • That’s actually a really great point- social media is an excellent way of marketing our work which makes it more valuable to have lots and lots of friends/followers even if you have no clue who most of them are.

  35. funny stuff, GOtC. narc twitter! great phrase.
    enjoyed it.
    i rarely use the facebook. i’m so bored with “michael is eating an egg”, or “freddie is changing his socks”. i mean really, who fucking cares? i have very few facebook friends. a goodly number of actual friends, just not the online type. betty white was right. it’s a colossal waste of time….
    keep it up.
    david

  36. I share your confusion. It’s like you think you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings. But, for the most part, you’re following people you don’t know and can only base your decision to follow/friend on what they write and how they respond. If someone only notices you when you click the unfollow button, they’re not the people you want to hang with anyway.

    So, yes. I unfollow and unfriend. My virtual therapist thinks I’m making great progress in learning to put my wants and needs first. Him I’d follow anywhere. ;-)

  37. Hmmm…I guess that means you can’t ignore a problem and hope it goes away. Now you have to put a stake in the ground and stand by your actions…something the cyberworld of email/texting has made easy to dodge.

    I’m just sayin’…

  38. Sometimes I’ll see a “house cleaning” post on Facebook asking for FB friends and/or followers to “check in” by a certain deadline if they want to remain on your roster. Naturally, this can backfire. What if someone checks in whom you’d prefer to omit? Are you then painted into a corner? There’s no easy way out, I guess.

  39. You’re over thinking this, I unfriend people every now and then when I get a fengh shui attack and don’t feel guilty or bad about it.

    If they get pissed it’s their own problem not yours. Social media is there so we can enjoy it not to create more drama in our life.

  40. Ulgh I know what you mean! I’ve definitely had a few people unfollow me on WordPress and am morbidly curious as to why (dude, I could be sooooo much more offensive if I put my mind to it, LOL). I rarely defriend/unfollow because I’m so worried about hurting people’s feelings. But it is kind of ridiculous that it’s become such a slap in the face.

      • For me, anyway, I think the blog unfollow can feel like much more of a rejection because most of us are invested into our work that we put out. Writing can be very personal, and we put a lot of effort and care into our blogs. Being unfollowed feels like that work and care just isn’t good enough. It feels like someone not only doesn’t read the blog anymore, but is annoyed enough that they have to eliminate us from their sight and inboxes.

        Facebook is different. I suppose I’ve been unfriended but to be honest, I don’t really care. I’m curious to figure out who it was and why they unfriended, but that lasts for the time that it takes for me to say, “Huh! Whaddya know!” and then it’s over. I know about the periodic clean-ups or the random “You posted something bad about Florida and I love Florida!” tantrums, and I don’t care. If someone wants to disassociate him or herself from me for a random character trait or status update, then that says to me that we don’t share the same interests and it’s just as well that I don’t have do deal with that person anymore.

        All of this is a long-winded way of say that to me, it feels like defriending is random and a rejection of some trivial element of my personality, and therefore it doesn’t bother me. Unfollowing seems like a rejection of work that I hold dear, or a sign that I’m not talented enough to keep someone’s interests. And that makes me quite pouty. (Until I realize that maybe it’s not all about meeeeeee).

        I have 87 Facebook friends and that feels like too many! I’ve been very very picky about whose requests I accept or any that I send out. I’ve unfriended people with whom I’ve had zero contact and never heard any drama or fallout of that unfriending. I’ve been wonderfully Facebook drama-free because of an insistence to keep using it the way I intended to: to keep in touch with close friends who no longer live close to me, and to feel in a small way like they are still part of my daily life.

  41. One of the many reasons I don’t use Facebook, etc. That, and I was tired of being expected to “bling” people and “flirt” with people whether I wanted to or not but out of some ridiculous sense of obligation because they “blinged” me or “flirted” with me and about a go-zillion other people because they wanted to save the rainforest or something.

  42. I’ve had this same problem – it seems so mean. But really, it’s just easier the old fashion way: ignoring something until it goes away. With social media, you can’t just ignore someone, because their status updates and comments are always popping up in your face.

    So you are forced to unfriend, which forces you to deal with your conscience, which tells you you’re mean. Which you’re not. But it feels mean to tell someone directly that “I like you, but not really that much. No, no…I’ll call you.”

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