Poking. Friending. De-friending. Messaging. Posting. Tagging. Liking. Ignoring.
The New Oxford American Dictionary chose the verb “UNFRIEND” as its 2009 Word of the Year (WOTY) and defined it this way: “to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.” The word “has both currency and potential longevity,” explained Christine Lindberg, Oxford’s senior lexicographer on the OUP Blog.
The act (art 😕 ) of unfriending (or defriending or unfollowing) is part of the pruning process of maintaining a presence on social media, like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites.
It’s so easy to collect more friends than you want or need, including many contacts that may turn out not to be “friends” by any reasonable definition of the word.
Fortunately, if someone posts too often, bores you, lurks without posting, has questionable politics or ethics, says something caustic or insensitive, acts unpredictably, or even uses too many exclamation points (or the excruciatingly irritating UPPERCASE), takes 80 quizzes a day and pokes you incessantly, it’s relatively easy to get rid of them electronically – with no more than a few keystrokes.
A few days ago I came across a status posting on FB where a certain person mentioned that they had unfriended a ‘friend’ who was supposedly an outspoken racist – which left me wondering:
Did they know this ‘friend’ before they befriended them on FB?
Did they know this ‘friend’s’ views before they befriended them on FB?
Have they ever spent a minute or two in real life with this person?
Do they share other (different) interests, concerns?
There were quite a few people who ‘liked‘-marked the status…
Here’s the question:
If you’re going to unfriend everyone on FB (nevermind befriend everyone who invites you), who you don’t agree with on one or two viewpoints in life, how many ‘friends’ will you have left?
Do you check every incoming ‘friend’ request or are you just so glad someone likes you enough or finds you ‘important’ enough (for whatever reason) to want to be’friend’ you? And do you have a list of should-nots, must-not, be-not – by which you could fine-tooth comb their opinions and principles and accept on those terms?
Do you feel flattered in any way when you receive yet another ‘friend’ request from a relative stranger? Do you know, really know, more than half of your FB friends?
Do you invite more people to be ‘friends’ than what you receive invites?
Do you check (and compare) the number of friends you have on FB and do you actually (secretly) brag about it?
Are you consistent with your evaluation of who qualifies to be a ‘friend’?
If a ‘friend’ posts a socially or ethically unacceptable status comment – do you just ignore that, or take the time to gently point them to the fact that it offends you and that, although you’re crazy about them in general, the fact that you’re ‘friends’ on FB, means that you’re invariably associated with them (and their offensive moral principles and conduct).
When and why would you ‘UNFRIEND’ someone? And if you did – would you just hit the button or would you add a comment or note? Would you take into consideration your common friends and how much information you have exchanged (including secrets and confidences) with one another? How great is the risk of collateral damage? How many other connections and ties are broken?
Do you think just as your “Friends” list, your “Unfriends” list should also appear on your wall?
Maybe something like “FRENEMIES” would be kind of funny –
in an eeehhhhmmm sardonic 👿 sort of way…