When it comes to social media, some might say that in real life I am anti-social. My non-poetic, non-anonymous self has a total of 31 friends on Facebook and 14 followers on Twitter, as compared to approximately 10,000 “Likes” on my Facebook author page and over 150,000 followers on Twitter.
Since I am rather social on social media as my fictitious character, The Product Poet, why am rather anti-social social media in my real life? Let me explain. Several years ago when I was about to attend my 20th high school reunion, I was getting a fair amount of Facebook friend requests from former high school classmates looking to reconnect prior to the reunion. Most of these requests were from people who I couldn’t remember, nor were particularly close with during high school. After I started to accept all of the friend requests, I was immediately bombarded with request to play games or to look at this or look at that or even help out with their struggling businesses. While I could have simply adjusted my privacy settings or muted these requests, guess what I did? I unfriended everyone with the exception of my family members.
The process of unfriending someone on Facebook, as compared to unfollowing someone on Twitter, appears to be much more personal in nature. I’ve heard many stories from friends where they have a “friend of a friend” that has been unfriended on Facebook. The comments I’ve heard are pretty amazing and often laced with a profanity or two. Clearly unfriending someone on Facebook can and should be done for certain situations, such as a break-up of a relationship or for anyone that may be bullying or cyber-stalking and just won’t leave you alone. I have lost plenty of “friends” on my author page, where I can see that my likes have declined about 4% over the past 60 days. I don’t post anything controversial nor do I excessively post to Facebook, so I’m guessing I have a bunch of bot/spam likes or I’m simply not providing any value to my followers. In addition to Facebook, Twitter periodically performs purges of inactive/bot/spam accounts and I lost nearly 8,000 followers. Does it bother me? A little bit, especially when I’ve had great interactions with the un-followee or un-liker, but I’m more curious about the psychology behind why some people unfriend people on Facebook or unfollow on Twitter.
Therefore, I went to The Google and typed in: “The Art of Unfriending on Facebook” and voila, the first article that came up was from Cam Finlayson (follow on Twitter here) titled: The Psychology and Art of Unfriending. Cam pointed out some great research articles in his post that help to support that the act of being unfriended can be an unsettling act and viewed by individuals as being malicious. In fact, I’ve known people to unfriend others on Facebook just to create unnecessary strife between an already strained relationship, which to me means the relationship wasn’t a healthy relationship and was meant to be severed.
Unfriending and unfollowing in today’s digital world, is not unlike my high school where cliques would be formed, boundaries drawn and people were alienated. I lost one of my best friends when I found out he was cheating with the girlfriend of one of my other best friends, but I told him in person that he was a jerk. No message boards, no texts, no posts or tweets. Life back then was simpler and sweet, but if asked today why I unfriended someone on Facebook or unfollowed someone on Twitter, if asked I would simply state: Friends may come and friends may go, some friends may unfriend and some tweeps may unfollow.
So tell me, have you ever been unfriended on Facebook and if so, how did that make you feel?