The VPM Blog

To friend, or de-friend on Facebook

Posted by Don Crow on Aug 20, 2010 4:00:29 AM

Have you ever thought of someone and gone to facebook to message them, write on their wall or chat only to find out you aren't friends anymore?

According to this Telegraph UK article on the subject of defriending, almost half of facebook's 500 million users have defriended someone. The post attributes some of that to people who go into "friend grab" mode when they first sign up, only to decide later they can't manage nor keep up with everyone.

We did our own informal survey to try and find some additional answers. Here is what we gleaned from the responses. BTW, you may still take the survey here.

Over 60% of you felt that friends who proudly proclaim they are about to clean house, or go on a defriending campaign are either passive aggressive or narcissistic. The balance viewed the practice of posts about "thinning the herd," as not so nasty in nature.

A little under 40% felt that defriending someone had come back to haunt them, or that it would very soon. Obviously then, most respondents felt there was no harm done. However, almost 60% said defriending on facebook should or could extend to other sites as well. More on this thought later in the post.

When it comes to why defriending takes place there were two choices that jumped out

  1. Concerns over privacy and who is seeing photos, friends, posts, etc.
  2. Disagreement with posts about politics, religion or "too personal" posts about everything from sex, drinking, partying and ex husbands/wives.

In fact, a full 60% said they would defriend someone because of their political, religious and personal posts versus just "hiding" that person. Surprisingly, very few people defriended those who were an ex boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. Ditto the surprise on how few of you defriend the "gamers" on your friend list who can literally fill up your news feed with mafia, farm and fish updates.

The message here was clear: we can be friends but keep your political rants, religious humming and booty call bragging to a minimum or not at all. Or, as it was pointed out to me as a youngster, "Politics and religion should not be discussed at the dinner table. " Likewise then, "don't kiss and tell." It might seem some old school manners have extended into the online world too.

The concern over privacy was really a way of saying, "I don't know this person well enough offline to trust they won't do something disagreeable with my photos or posts."

The interesting question this poses is should facebook incorporate a feature similar to Linkedin connection requests? If you've never used Linkedin, the process to connect is to either know the person's email address or indicate how you know the person. On the other side of that, Linkedin allows its users to say what they are open to receiving.

And now to finish our thought on extending defriending. We're in a more connected world than ever. We're also a lot more insecure than ever. Finding out you've been defriended elicited a "why me?!" response from a full 31% of our survey takers. Add that to the response count on feeling as if the practice has, or would come back to haunt you later and it would appear defriending isn't a wise practice without a note as to why. This CNN online article even offers some reactions when people were told "no thanks" to a connection request.

Imagine the person who announces they are going on a defriending campaign and then needs the advice or referral from a former facebook friend for a job or project? I would think it would take a big person to overlook that snub when the request to help came in. Or, even if they did it might require an embarrassing reason why from the defender.

My advice is this, if someone on your facebook friend list is annoying: hide them. OR, here is a radical thought, pick up the phone and call them and just ask, "are you okay?" Chances are good you have no clue what that person may be going through in their personal life and facebook is their release. Now, if you don't know them well enough to call it begs the question of why you're friends in the first place.

Remember we're all connected by fewer degrees in the digital 21st the next time you decide to go "house cleaning." If you're still not convinced, I recommend you spend some time learning more about how and when at DeFriend.com.

The VPM Blog

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