Why I Stopped Unfriending People On Facebook

Friends sitting together talking on a couch

So many Facebook users do this annual thing I like to call the “Facebook Purge.” They go through their friend list and can anyone who doesn’t belong to their social circle any longer, annoys them or they see no real value in having on Facebook. And that’s all good and fun! To each their own! Carpe Diem?

You know what? I’m totally guilty of this and I have no shame. I tossed a lot of people out the social window after high school and I wish I hadn’t.

There are few types of characters I’d unfriend in the present. I’d like to get those out of the way before we delve in.

It’s okay to unfriend:

  1. Ex-anything-s! Partners or best friends or anyone you have a negative relationship with. Not everyone is going to get along and that’s a fact.
  2. Spam-bot accounts who add everyone and send out badly Photoshopped promotions
  3. That dude with that Facebook virus.

So, why don’t I do this unfriending thing?

Information

Who reads the news anymore when they can just tune into social networks and witness the biased, charged opinions of their Facebook communities? In a 2014 study, Pew Research discovered that 64% of US citizens are on Facebook. 30% of those users find out their news via Facebook. To compare, 10% of YouTube users discover news via video and 8% of Twitter users consult Twitter for news updates. Facebook is the news powerhouse of social networks.

Reach

People will know who you are when you make public appearances. Hairstyles change, glasses change, lives change. Trust me, no one recognizes me, but if I have them on Facebook, chances are statistically higher. (I do my own social experiments but…don’t document them.) It’s so much easier to run into people who know what you’re up to – as creepy as that is – or have experienced some sort of social acceptance from you online or vice versa!

If you defriended someone and you run into them, how awkward is that?! It’s happened to me too many times. It’s the worst.

Network

It’s great to keep tabs on people in the business world with LinkedIn, but the reality is, not everyone is on LinkedIn. Pew Research also discovered that 19% of US citizens are on LinkedIn. Compare that to Facebook’s 64%! Facebook still remains the most tapped-in social network. Facebook is a social outlet, but it also provides a great space for idea share and project collaboration. Perhaps one of your Facebook ‘friends’ is interested in working with someone on a personal project relevant to your field and interests and shares a status update about it. If you’d unfriended that person, chances would be slim that you’d know about it.

Still NOT Convinced?

-I know that Chatty Cathy never stops posting about everything from her leftovers to her ex-boyfriend’s shining new love life. Unfollow her.

-Yes, your Grandma has you on Facebook and no, you don’t want her to see your new partner. Only share your successes (i.e.  not your partner) with her. This can be done when you create an audience and select your ideal privacy settings.

-Your high school rival keeps sharing all their successes. Okay, fine! Unfriend them. But remember – you may be missing out on a stellar collabor-. I’m going to cut myself off.

Share your best unfriending experiences in the comments. I’d also be curious to hear opinions on Facebook purging and how you feel about that.

P.S. Unfriend is such a terrible word! What is social about that?

4 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Unfriending People On Facebook”

  1. I go back and forth about this all the time, and usually come to the same conclusion you have. You never know the value of your network until you need it, and your FB friends are no exception.

    1. Thanks Meg! Peoples’ lives change all the time – you never know who will match up with your goals and aspirations in the future.

  2. Interesting. Personally, I view the friend-purge as a form of spring cleaning – when I clean out my closet, for example, I am really creating space for new, fresh, exciting stuff to take the place of what I’m getting rid of. To me, clearing digital space is just as important.
    Also, considering how I use various social media tools: LinkedIn is all business – I can’t see myself ever deleting any connections from there. Facebook is essentially my contact book, as well as my digital face if anybody looks me up.

    On Facebook, I really have a process to purging friends – to be honest it can be a bit of a game.
    I’m not likely to keep someone if I can’t even remember who they are, or if we met once and added each-other quickly, and then never hung out after, or if I’m trying to re-invent myself. I’ve deleted many people from University and from residence, yet the valuable connections (aka you Jill!) are definitely still thriving.
    “Oh, I’m at 460 friends– I bet I can get that down to 440.” is something I’ve definitely said before. When I’m de-friending, I don’t ask myself “why am I deleting this person.” I ask myself “Why am I keeping this person as my friend.” Just a bit of a different perspective.

    1. Hi Tim. Thanks for the alternative perspective. I agree with a few things you’ve pointed out – if you don’t know who someone is, it may be a good time to say “adios.” I like this idea of digital spring cleaning and I think this can be applied to going through computers and phones and getting rid of old files and things you don’t need anymore. I wouldn’t do that with my friend list, though, simply because I find there is a lot of change going on.

      A lot of people in our age group are graduating/have graduated and are starting to feel out their futures by exploring new interests, building skills and making career choices. This is the time when someone by who you were merely acquainted is starting to build something you appreciate and are interested in building, too. While I feel there is no age deadline to discover one’s passions and career, I do believe a lot of that goes on in the mid-20s to early-30s.

      Thanks for sharing, Tim. I value alternative perspectives and appreciate you taking the time to read this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *