I started out writing a blog about unfriending. That post became 2800 words and since I’ve vowed to do better about length? I cut it in half. Then that grew to 3200 words. So I had to cut it again.
Aaand then again.
Apparently I have a lot of opinions about unfriending.
After almost a thousand blog posts I seriously cannot believe we haven’t talked more about this. Unfriending. What an awful word. Un-friend. To be un-friended.
Maybe. Maybe not.
I actually posted some thoughts on the whole “unfriending” thing and there does seem to be a generational difference. Young people will unfriend someone who’s misbehaving then add them again later. From what I understand it’s like a time-out.
I will say that, us older folks?
It is NOT a time out.
I can promise that us older folks will take being unfriended far more personally because we grew up in an era where the word “friend” held a very different and more significant meaning.
But the reality is that, in the digital age, barriers and borders have been removed. It’s as if we are all living in a giant fishbowl. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the social media lexicon itself has created problems. When we add people we “friend” them. Trust me, the masterminds behind social media chose this word very deliberately.
We have a saying in political science, Say it once. Say it twice. Say it three times. Say it four times. Say it five times and they will believe.
If we refer to complete strangers as “friends” the mind forms a deeper emotional attachment than say with a “follower.” This deeper emotional attachment is a double-edged sword. When creating a brand, it forges a deeper perceived intimacy with those around us, one that actually can be a powerful driver of sales. Why? Who do we buy from? People we know and people we like (code for friend).
But this is also why “unfriending” can land us in hot water. It’s a form of social rejection and the people on the other side of that screen actually do have a beating heart and feelings and we’re wise to remember that.
Before we look at how this unfriending unnecessarily hurts feeling and why it’s probably best to avoid and all that jazz, we need to step back and appreciate why we really might want to think twice about culling our friends list at all. How it actually is highly beneficial to have a lot of “friends” regardless of whether they talk to us or not.
By the way, when it comes to getting rid of stalkers, bullies, trolls? Feel free to unfriend and we WILL talk about how and when to do that…on another post. Today’s discussion has to do more with just people’s need to “tidy” up a friend list.
Well they never interact with me.
Okay, well Facebook’s algorithms might just never be putting your stuff in their feed so they never see it. If they aren’t causing a problem? Leave it be.
I know this blog is mainly for writers who are building a brand but I also know regular people who are not building a brand also follow this blog so I will say it. Unfriending is just unwise. Today we’re going to look at why we shouldn’t unfriend from a purely self-centered perspective. Why is a large friend base good no matter who you are?
First, Ditch the Old Ideas About Friendship
One thing I hear all the time (and it irritates me) is that on-line friends are not real friends. That’s just crap. Of course they’re real friends if we invest time, effort and energy in those relationships just as we would in person. I’m sorry, but the people I know on-line have been far better friends to me than people who live five miles away.
People on-line have traveled across oceans to come and meet/visit me, whereas people I see in person have trouble taking me up on an invitation to come over for dinner.
No idea why it is harder and harder to connect with people in the modern world, but again we can talk about that on another post.
The simple fact is that there are always different “levels” of friendship and there have always been. Back in 1992, who did you prefer to take you car to for service? Some random person you looked up in the yellow pages or that “friend” or “buddy” from high school?
Did you really have to hang out braiding each other’s hair to consider this relationship a “friendship”? No. It’s was just pretty much understood that this was a loose connection, not a friend you’d ask to be your best man at your wedding.
And here’s the deal, we can feel free to cull all our relationships down to only people we’d trust to rear our children upon our untimely death, but life is going to be really hard that way. Life is already tough, why make it tougher?
So what are the advantages of having lots of friends?
Humans are precious resources. The more humans we have in our network, the more resources we have to draw from and the more connections we can take advantage of should the need arise. The greater the intellectual capital in our bank, the smarter the hive mind we can tap into.
Even before social media I was known as the gal who made stuff happen. Why? I had a vast network of connections. I have had people make the joke about the Six Degrees of Kristen Lamb, but seriously, I know everyone.
And if I don’t know that person, odds are I know someone who does. It is why having me as a connection is highly valuable. Because…
I know people.
Having a lot of friends isn’t an ego-stroking thing. It’s just plain smart. Trust me, it’s always been about who you know not what you know. These days if we want a new job? We have a far higher chance of getting that job if we know someone.
Even if we know someone who knows someone. Because if we don’t? Then we just better hope we wrote our resume and cover letter with enough keywords to make it past their computer filter’s algorithms designed to reject us and that is a sucky way to get a job.
We need other people.
Most people get job recommendations from “loose connections.” That person you cull out of your friends might have been the one person you needed to land that dream job.
Every big break I have ever gotten came from knowing someone. Sometimes these folks never interacted with me…but were watching. I actually got my very first professional speaking gig at RT Booklovers from a lurker in my Facebook friends. She really liked my posts and was on the panel to choose speakers.
She chose me.
What if I had cropped her out of my friends because she wasn’t a “real” friend? I actually might never have made it where I am today because that was the event that opened all the doors. I was quoted in the L.A. Times and suddenly speaking invitations piled in faster than I could accommodate. I had one year I gave up on wearing a watch because I criss-crossed the country so much.
Because of a quiet Facebook friend ;).
I’ve used my network for all kinds of things. We got hit with tornadoes one year and needed repairs done to our roof.
Hey, you guys know anyone in XYZ area who’s a good and dependable roofer?
Humans are a naturally helpful bunch. Let them.
We don’t need to know everything if we have a solid network. What’s better than google? People. I save vast amounts of time researching simply because I go to my following and ASK.
Hey, writing a book set in South Africa. Can anyone give me some idioms and tidbits to make it authentic?
Aaaannnnd all of Kristen’s friends from South Africa perk to life and are thrilled to help. This is way faster than hunt-and-peck through Wiki articles hoping I get it right.
I have all kinds of people message me about guns and martial arts and hand-to-hand. It might be about writing for a scene or even just life.
So instead of my good friend Gry (who is in Europe, btw) trying to pore over articles or test out a bunch of ill-fitting forms of martial arts, she just came to me to narrow her search and get an informed opinion.
For the normal-not-writer-people out there, trust me, you need the hive mind too. Maybe your kid has to do a paper. Perhaps you’re contemplating frying a turkey and want to make sure you don’t accidentally create a bomb. Maybe you’re thinking of applying for a job at a certain company and need an opinion of what it is really like to work there.
You just don’t know when these people are going to come in really handy.
Yes, it’s true. We cannot actively be friends with hundreds or thousands of people at one time. About the max humans can handle is 40. So once we pass a certain number, the folks we actively engage with is only a small percentage but that is fine. They’re inert until something wakes them up and queues them to engage. Again, people LIKE to help.
Here’s an example of how networks DO matter. My husband is not even friends with this gal. This was reposted by one of our friends who lives in San Diego. My husband reposted it since we live in TEXAS. Maybe this woman knew no one in Texas. She did not know my husband….but her friend was friends with someone in Texas.
Social media is social so the more connections we have the better. We never know when part of that network will be very valuable so my recommendation? Leave them be. Yes, even regular folks.
We will talk more in coming posts about this unfriending thing, but what are your thoughts? I’m going to explore this a lot more. I really had no idea how BIG this topic was until I started unpacking it.
Why do you unfriend? Have you had someone unfriend you and it made what should have been a small tiff a BIG deal? I know I got cross with a family member and normally we would have resolved it pretty quickly…but she unfriended me on Facebook and I turned into Tony Soprano.
You unfriended me. ME? UNFRIENDED? You are DEAD to me.
We have since patched things up, but I will say the unfriending was like tossing a match on kindling.
I really DO love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.
And yes, I am a complete and total slacker. December’s winner will be announced later because I seriously had three posts go viral. Great problem to have…but tabulating a winner? Gonna take a little time. Love you *air kiss*
Remember to check out the new classes listed at W.A.N.A International.
Branding for Authors (NEXT SATURDAY). This is your best way to get PAID in the digital age. We have to cultivate that 1000 die hard fans who won’t settle for FREE.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
#1 by nancysegovia on February 4, 2016 - 11:17 am
Reblogged this on Nancy Segovia and commented:
Interesting thoughts, but not sure I totally agree
#2 by Maria Jansson Photography on February 4, 2016 - 11:17 am
This is an interesting post indeed! I’m guilty of un-friending people that it would of been “smart” to keep on my friends list. It’s sometimes a thin line between, having a resource, and peace of mind. IN general I certainly agree with your opinions in this post. Friends should be a positive thing 🙂 Great post!
#3 by nancysegovia on February 4, 2016 - 11:26 am
I recently unfriended someone, a popular mainstream Christian author, who I knew from way back when. However, when she landed her mainstream contract and began hanging out with other “real” authors she just didn’t seem to have time for the rest of us any more. We were in the same private group and she would address her “author” friends and mostly ignore the rest of us. This went on for several years, and each year she sent me a magazine subscription at Christmas. That’s it. That’s the only communication I ever had from her which wasn’t a real communication. She even changed her e-mail address and didn’t bother to give me her new one. This is from a woman who I got on a greyhound bus and rode across the country to meet and support her at her first book signing. Finally, when my dad died the day after Thanksgiving in 2015 and then my husband died on Jan 5 2016, not even 6 full weeks later, and I never heard one word from her. I had enough. I not only unfriended her, I told her exactly what I thought of her form of Christianity. I don’t regret it at all. Like I have always said, “I don’t have time for people who don’t have time for me.” Of course, she tried to turn the tables on me and said she was sorry she couldn’t be the friend I expected her to be, but all I expected was to be treated the same way she treated her mainstream author friends, and not be ignored. So, the problem in her mind was me and my expectations of a friend, not her lack of consideration, compassion and equality for others. Oh well, life goes on. Well for some of us. For my father and my husband it didn’t.
#4 by Laura on February 4, 2016 - 12:47 pm
I’m so sorry about your dad and your husband. I lost my husband as well, though not as recently. If you ever want to talk, let me know. I know I found it helpful sometimes to unload on a neutral party who had been through the same thing. 😦
#5 by nancysegovia on February 4, 2016 - 12:59 pm
Thank you so much for your kind words. I will get through this, I think.
#6 by cpbialois on February 4, 2016 - 11:27 am
I try to find excuses not to unfriend people and have only had to unfriend a handful of people after giving them several chances to NOT be a a-hole to me. Generally, I wait until I’d punch them in real life, then it’s time to walk away. lol
The funny thing is, I recently had a friend block me because we didn’t share an opinion and I returned some of his attitude, though a lot gentler than I could have. Hindsight being what it is, I kinda wish I had blasted him instead of showing respect. lol
#7 by MichaelLachmanWrites on February 4, 2016 - 11:28 am
I just created my own list within facebook for my real friends, and made it that only they can see most of my posts. That way, I don’t have to actually defriend anyone, but can still make sure folks I’m not as fond of can’t see my posts. (Of course, I rarely post anything anymore anyways, but back when I was single, it seemed like a smart move.)
#8 by Dennis Royer on February 4, 2016 - 11:39 am
This is specific to Facebook. I understand how having thousands of friends can become unwieldy sifting through all those posts to read the ones you really need to see. I solve this problem by segregating friends into lists. I click on the most important lists first, and then when I get time I peruse the less important ones. For example, I have lists for “other writers,” “my fans,” “neighbors,” “college friends,” etc. When you post something, you can choose which list to post to which is also helpful.
To create a new list:
1. Scroll down to Friends on the left side of your News Feed. Hover over Friends and click More.
2. Click Create List.
3. Enter a name for your list and the names of friends you’d like to add. Keep in mind you can add or remove friends from your lists at any time.
4. Click Create.
Then add the newly created lists to your “Favorites” on the left side of the page:
To add a link to your Favorites list:
1. Click Home on the top bar.
2. In the left menu, find the link you’d like to add to your Favorite’s List. If you don’t see the link you’re looking for, hover over a category name (ex: Pages) and click More.
3. Hover over the link, click and select Add to Favorites.
Hope this helps.
#9 by Cynthia Herron on February 4, 2016 - 11:50 am
Yikes! Okay–please don’t throw eggs, Kristen. I did just recently clean a few folks (about 12 or so) from my personal FB acct. The reasons? Either spam or fake accounts, little or no interaction with anyone (yes, I viewed their timelines first), continuous political/downer rants, and/or when it was clear I was just another “number” and she’d “friended” dozens of others the same week.
Now–that being said–this was a first for me, because, like you, I’m not fond of the connotation “unfriending” denotes. (It’s happened to me a few times so I know how icky it feels.) Here’s the thing, too. For me, it’s somewhat of a privacy issue. I’m more cautious now. If there are no/few mutual connections, no industry links, etc, that’s a red flag for me. Because the world being what it is today, *sigh*, I see things a little differently than I might have several years ago. Plus, I actually interact with folks just as much on my page as I do my personal account. I enjoy people and making friends. And I love great conversation and the privilege of connecting with others through a medium I might not otherwise meet “in person.”
Great thoughts! Way to make us think!
#10 by Cynthia Herron on February 4, 2016 - 11:56 am
And yes–I agree, Dennis. FB lists are a helpful way to go. Easier to manage and a way we don’t miss important details of our friends’ lives.
#11 by Bridgett Morigna on February 4, 2016 - 12:07 pm
I don’t have very many Facebook friends compared to most people I know, but that means I see a lot of posts from the same people. I’ve unfriended a few people over the years for the sake of my own mental health, but never because they don’t interact with me.
#12 by Catherine Johnson on February 4, 2016 - 12:08 pm
I haven’t unfriended anyone on Facebook but I have cleaned up Twitter. Not done it for a while though and no plans to do it again. You make some great points. Funny my husband knows about aquaponics lol.
#13 by Kate Murry on February 4, 2016 - 12:11 pm
How does this post apply to Twitter, which maxes out how many people you can friend? It sounds like this post only applies to Facebook. If you hit the 2000 max mark on Twitter and you want to add more friends, you are forced to cull. It stinks.
#14 by memoirsofahusk on February 4, 2016 - 12:28 pm
It’s a sign!
At last, after reading and thinking ‘hmm maybe I’ll reply’ so many times, there’s a connection. I knew Benazir Bhutto. There. I love making connections – and friends. Someone I have never met sent me three bars of lemon-myrtle-goat’s-milk-soap all the way from Australia (I’m in the UK) and thinking of it makes me smile. I regard her as a real friend though we ‘met’ following each other’s blogs. It can cut a more painful way, though. One blogging friend died (also an Aussie, I found out by Googling after a long gap between posts) and I had been planning to visit. Another blog friend ceased to post after typhoons in the Philippines.
But as to what you say about unfriending on Facebook – have you been snooping on me? My brother-in-law unfriended me and I was really annoyed – especially when he said he wanted to keep his account for ‘family’. But it actually set me free, I had struggled with that relationship ever since I first met him. 🙂 And me? I don’t unfriend, I just hide notifications! Thanks for a thought provoking post – as usual. Mary
#15 by Kim Kouski on February 4, 2016 - 12:37 pm
I hate defriending anyone, I always want to see the good in others. I’ve only defriended one person and I did it b/c he attacked my friends. I have been defriened by 3 people who didn’t agree with my values. I want to hear others’ opinions so I don’t mind have opposing views, I don’t like being called an idiot b/c of those views. I enjoy all my friends and I hate it that I can’t see all the posts in my feed.
#16 by annaerishkigal on February 4, 2016 - 12:45 pm
I had to clean house after an innocuous (and pretty politically moderate) comment on an in-person friend’s post ended up with a bunch of ‘social justice warriors’ attacking not only me, but also everybody who was connected to my Facebook page (including many readers who have friended me over the years and become ‘real’ online friends). Gah! I mean, we’ve all experienced trolls, but usually the ‘adults’ step in and say ‘please, let’s all just get along?’ Online bullying reminds me too much of the Goodreads Bullies or Amazon Fora Trolls. I think of social media posts like hosting a party at your house. If someone shows up and starts abusing your guests, you have a responsibility to ask that person to stop (moderate) or make them leave (unfriend them). Given the nature of how Facebook splatters your posts out to friends of friends who you never dreamed would see your stuff, you have to be kinda careful and make sure you only friend people you at least quasi-trust. If people don’t have discretion in their social media friendships then I want no part of them. I wouldn’t put up with it in real life, and people should have enough sense not to put up with it online, either. So if someone becomes abusive to my other friends, then it’s Delete, Block, Unfriend & Ignore.
#17 by Laura on February 4, 2016 - 12:55 pm
A few years ago (five, maybe?) I went through and cut about two hundred people from my FB list. I don’t regret it simply because I didn’t know most of them – I had added all of them for Farmville, Castleville, etc, and they overwhelmed me feed. I couldn’t see posts from my friends or family, just the people I played games with. I don’t go on FB but once every few months anyway.
#18 by storytellergirlgrace on February 4, 2016 - 1:09 pm
What a great post, as always, Kristen. People have different reasons for keeping their “friend” or “following” list to a certain amount, but overall I agree with you. I think I’ve unfriended maybe 2 or 3 people ever, and that was mostly due to their offensive posts or troll-ish content.
Anyway, I agree that “unfriending” should be approached with caution, wisdom, and much deliberating. It seems that so many people forget the “social” aspect of social media. We’re blessed in this day and age to be able to connect with people from all different backgrounds, all over the world. There’s power in that and we shouldn’t take it lightly.
#19 by Viv on February 4, 2016 - 1:25 pm
I seldom unfriend and only for serious reasons, and I am always hurt if someone I liked unfriends me. But these days I am a lot more careful about accepting friend requests; I’d rather we had friends in common or we’ve interacted on a comment thread.
I’ve met many people I knew only via social media; they’re all fabulous people. I’ve also learned a vast amount about life from people who I may never meet face to face.
#20 by Michelle Morrison on February 4, 2016 - 1:25 pm
I don’t post here often, but I do enjoy your blog tremendously. Yikes, does that make me a stalker? 😉 You have some good thoughts here. I think in general it’s best to leave things alone, although there are valid reasons for unfriending someone. I think I’ve only unfriended one person who was being a troll, and I did warn them to back off before I went that route. I have had several people I didn’t interact with regularly who were friends of friends unfriend me, but I didn’t make a fuss about it. I figure if they don’t want me on their friend’s list that is their business. There can be too much drama on Facebook and I make an effort not to get caught up in drama. There have been several people I did interact with regularly who I noticed weren’t on my friend’s list, and when I contacted them to ask what had happened, they had simply deactivated their accounts. And yes, Facebook does do strange things, so I don’t assume if I don’t see someone on my friend’s list they are out to get me. Whatever the case, I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to worry about stuff I can’t control or do anything about and just do my best.
#21 by Annabeth Gabe on February 4, 2016 - 1:29 pm
I’m 30, and I tend to only add people to Facebook who I have some connection with in person. This isn’t the case with Twitter, but when I think about “cleaning up friends’ lists”, I really only think about Facebook. The vast majority of my Facebook friendships are just extensions of in-person friendships. I don’t have a huge friends list to begin with, and most of them are people I haven’t spoken to in years and years and years. But it’s still important to me to be able to get in touch with them, so I’m not in the habit of culling my friends list for any reason. But now that Facebook has a lovely “unfollow” option, I just hide their posts on my feed if I don’t like what someone is posting about.
I haven’t unfriended anyone in a loooooong time. Every time I have, though, it was an extension of a break off of an in-person friendship. Like when a best friend of mine seriously broke my trust and I couldn’t be friends with her anymore. Or when another friend seriously insulted my life choices (and me by extension) because he didn’t agree with them.
I’m sure I’ve done some friends list cleanup before, but now I can’t be bothered unless there’s a reason to cut the person out of my life in general.
#22 by haoconnor on February 4, 2016 - 1:29 pm
I completely agree, Kristen! I have never unfriended anyone on Facebook, although I have blocked a few people’s posts from my feed. Even that, I’ve only done a couple of times. I only accept people I know personally, online, or through friends, but I still value all of them. Sometimes, someone will come forward with great advice or even just to show their support for an accomplishment. That feels great and I always try to do the same for others. Isn’t that why we’re here–to help out and support one another? Thanks for reminding us to value that!
#23 by vercellonopace on February 4, 2016 - 1:37 pm
Unfriending. What an interesting word even in our “social media” culture. I have never unfriended anyone and probably won’t. I have been unfriended though. Not so sure I even cared. Why? Because I believe that even though I may not agree with someone, I felt they had value and for me to unfriend them would say that I no longer believe that. Now whether this value is pertinent to me is irrelevant. I also choose friends wisely. I look at profiles and check out what they say and how they say it. Though we all have issues because no one is perfect, I take the time to check them out. This way, when I do friend them, I know why. As I am included in the “older” group, I believe that even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye with someone, that doesn’t mean they can never help you. Sometimes, I think unfriending someone is a reaction to the hurt we experience in relationships. And, as you so significantly point out, just because they are on a social media site, it doesn’t mean they don’t get their feelings hurt. I find that I still operate with the “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Forgiveness is still very relevant today, even and particularly in social media. Hurt people still hurt people. If I find that a conversation online is leaning toward the negative, I tend to back off until a better time to respond. This is just the way I work it. Glad to be able to respond to this even though January is over. And, didn’t realize I would write such a long comment. Enjoyed the post.
#24 by karenmcfarland on February 4, 2016 - 1:52 pm
And what a great group of friends I have. Just look at the picture above. Unfriend? I think not. ((Hugs)) Kristen! 🙂
#25 by Heather Rainier on February 4, 2016 - 2:34 pm
What a great post, Kristen! Un-friending is a topic I’ve been hoping you’d post about. I agree with you regarding leaving the friends list alone, unless the “friend” is proving that they are actually a troll. The “unfollow” option is a blessing, especially in an election year. 😀
I have a question about friend requests that turn into a “bait-and-switch.” I’m an author and over the last year or so I’ve been receiving more and more friend requests from other authors (usually self-published but not always). If they look interesting and not spammy I’ll approve the request, only to have them send me an invitation to “like” their fan page under the same name the very next day. This is why I called it a “bait-and-switch” because it feels like all they really wanted was my “like.” If they were someone who had actually taken the time to interact a bit I’d be okay with it. To me this is cutting corners on the process of growing a social media platform and wondered if this has happened to you and what you thought of the practice.
Also, just a suggestion but in lieu of critiquing your winner’s first 20 pages would you ever consider critiquing their social media skills and platform? 😀
#26 by ShawnMc on February 4, 2016 - 2:44 pm
Ive only unfriended about 6 people ever. trolls mostly with 1 who never once had something nice to say or respected my oppinions. really attacked me. Everyone else, no problem, don’t always agree, BUT they are free to post.
#27 by Matt Bowes on February 4, 2016 - 3:36 pm
Kristin: First off, I was mining the information on loglines, because, well, I need one. So I was tiptoing through May 2015 (see: https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/your-novel-in-one-sentence-anatomy-of-story-part-5/), and then I said, like you do, “Hey, what’s the latest post that wily Lamb character has been posting? She doesn’t just post on Mondays anymore. Or never did. Whatever. What’s the post?” Boom, here is a post on unfriending. I scroll down, and there is a TAGLINE! Which relates back to loglines, which are not taglines. But Rambo, “This time, it’s personal!” Ha. Tagline.
Wait, don’t unfriend me! I promise to get to the point. If I had one. Which I don’t.
#28 by katepavelle on February 4, 2016 - 3:48 pm
I have an older-generation view of unfriending, so I wield that sword with caution. I’ve unfriended two people who kept inviting me to play FB games and had no other contact with me, and I did so after attempting a private conversation, which failed. I do screen out fake accounts, naturally. However, I’ve been rather hurt by a “former” member of our dojo unfriending me. He moved abroad. I’m from abroad. Aside from our common interests in the martial arts, we are both immigrants, albeit to different cultures. We were never buddy-close, but close enough to help each other out logistically. I wrote to him, assuming it was an error, yet I preemptively apologized for whatever I might have done. It wasn’t an error. I’ve forwarded a political post or two that upset him (just to my feed, not to his). He could’ve unfollowed me or blocked me, he could’ve contacted me privately. The fact that he just cut me off felt like a betrayal – I hold him to a higher level of courtesy because of our common past.
#29 by Hanna Elizabeth on February 4, 2016 - 3:49 pm
It takes a lot to piss me off. I can count on one hand how many people I’ve deleted and/or blocked since joining FB in ’08 and those were extreme circumstances – like one was a stalker. Now, if the need arises, I use the tools available to me, whether that’s putting them in a restricted zone, or hiding their posts, etc. But I don’t unfriend people unless it’s a severe case. Like you, I believe networking is useful and we should never limit ourselves on that front by kicking someone to the curb.
I tend to stay away from politics and religion online, but don’t even get me started on differing viewpoints being a reason to unfriend people! That is utter bulls… How can we expect to grow if we’re not uncomfortable sometimes? The soil doesn’t magically make way for a flower to poke its head through… the flower has to push. It has to reach for the sun despite the resistance it receives. Otherwise, it doesn’t grow at all. Humans are the same. Our beliefs need to be challenged sometimes. *steps down from soap box* I didn’t mean to go there, I swear. lol
Excellent blog post Kristen, and yes, it’s a deep rabbit hole of a subject.
#30 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 4, 2016 - 5:56 pm
#31 by ariefarnam on February 4, 2016 - 4:03 pm
Excellent points. Social networks do work like that. I live in the Czech Republic where this sort of “help out your loose network and they help you out” is not just a casual thing but very much part of the economy. We live on about a third of the actual finances that Americans do and have a very high standard of living. My husband and I have calculated that this is in large part due to the amount of household economy that is based on the “loose connections network.” It’s sort of like this. An acquaintance shot a wild boar because he’s in a hunters’ club and gave us a cut because it is too big to fit in his freezer. Deeeelish! Someone he met on a hunting trip needed to ask some questions about writing professional English. I helped out without charging a fee or calling it an ESL class. That person later helped out a woman I vaguely know from my town with a ride to another city. It isn’t directly reciprocal but everyone knows that the more you put in to the network the more you eventually get out. Multiply that millions of times each day and that is a huge part of the economy of our small country. It isn’t that this is an extra friendly country. In fact, it isn’t. It’s known for being cold and unwelcoming to outsiders. That’s the whole thing. It’s all about WHO you know. None of this economic stimulus would have happened without those loose connections. We don’t actually do these things for total strangers… or rarely. I see Facebook becoming more and more like that even in other countries.
That said, I do wonder about the whole “I’m cleaning up my friends list” thing. Do you really think that these posts are genuine? Either people have no idea how Facebook works and don’t realize that only a small fraction of your friends gets any given post or they do know that. If the do know, then they would know that you can’t clean up your friends’ list by posting such a message. Unless they have about 20 friends themselves they never get through their entire feed and know that other people also don’t, so they understand why everyone doesn’t reply to everything. I believe that these messages are not meant to clean up friend lists at all. They are meant to boost the poster’s algorithm score. If by threatening unfriending they force a bunch of people to comment on a post their score with Facebook algorithms jumps and the next few posts they make (possibly of a more advertising nature) are likely to go to a larger fraction of their friend list. Just a theory but it makes a lot more sense than the idea that people actually believe all their friends have a chance to read everything that gets into their feed or that one post will reach the feed of every friend. What do you think about people using this sort of tactic to play with Facebook algorithms?
#32 by acflory on February 4, 2016 - 4:10 pm
I’m old fashioned [sic] too and I have always had ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’. That qualitative difference has followed me online, but in either world I’m a keeper. I hate losing anyone.
#33 by tammyjpalmer on February 4, 2016 - 4:19 pm
I think the ‘friend’ thing is the reason why this introverted writer has always preferred twitter over facebook. It feels less personal. Making/losing friends, reminds me of rejection in the high school cafeteria. On the other hand, your post is a reminder that making real connections is important, and well worth the risk. Thanks for another good post!
#34 by Deborah Makarios on February 4, 2016 - 4:41 pm
I left Facebook in part because it decided which of my friends I got to hear about… whereas I had friended them all because I actually wanted to hear what was happening in their lives! If you have to go and hunt them down individually it kind of defeats the point. Mind you, I did try to make sure that everyone knew I was leaving, and not just mass-unfriending everyone.
#35 by Ed Hoornaert on February 4, 2016 - 4:58 pm
It isn’t only us old folks who take unfriending personally. Awhile back, two of my sons shared an apartment. Each had a girlfriend, and girlfriend A took exception (deservedly so) to how girlfriend B treated son B. So she unfriended her. That caused a breech that lasted nearly a year, until B & B broke up. It made sharing an apartment very awkward, shall we say.
#36 by Skye Hegyes on February 4, 2016 - 5:19 pm
A few months ago, my FB account was hacked by someone. I don’t have evidence, but I think it was someone with a personal grudge against me rather than a random hacker. Anyway, my friends list went from 400+ to less than 300 in the matter of days. I am still trying to add people back, and many of them have hit me with the “Why did you unfriend me?!?” question. It’s been… interesting…
#37 by Skye Hegyes on February 4, 2016 - 5:21 pm
Now, there are a few people I have blocked, nit unfriended. These have been people who like to cause unnecessary drama and trouble though, and like to cause issues with me and my family. However, you might classify them as trolls/bullies. Hmmm…
#38 by Susan M. Baganz on February 4, 2016 - 6:02 pm
Instead of unfriending – I put people on “restricted access” list – they can only see public posts and the majority of mine are friends only. Just a way to minimize unprofitable communications.
#39 by lynnkelleyauthor on February 4, 2016 - 6:02 pm
I’ve only unfriended a couple people (for very good reasons) and have only been un-friended by a few. I reacted like you did. Took it very personally. Excellent blog post, Kristen. What a nice surprise to see the pic of some of us WANAs! 🙂
#40 by 1authorcygnetbrown on February 4, 2016 - 6:31 pm
Hi Kristen, the only people I have ever unfriended (who weren’t trolls and spammers) were people who were no longer using their sites both on FB and Twitter. Like you said, you never know who might be of value someday. The only person who I know unfriended me was my husband. And yes, I did take that very personally!
#41 by J. B. Sako on February 4, 2016 - 9:33 pm
And, also too, don’t unfriend people on their birthdays on account of that’s just mean.
#42 by Janice C. Johnson on February 4, 2016 - 11:04 pm
I’ve only ever unfriended one person who (1) sent a friend request without bothering to remind me how we knew each other, but I figured out we’d had a class together; (2) never acknowledged any of my comments or posts to her; and (3) used her page only to market her book. Over and over and over.
I’ve been unfriended by a few younger people with whom I’d had a passing acquaintance and then lost contact. And possibly by others, though I’m not sure because I don’t pay attention to my numbers. Either way, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. It’s never been the result of a conflict that I was aware of, and I don’t take it personally.
#43 by Robyn Haynes on February 4, 2016 - 11:20 pm
Kristin, your posts always offer useful advice on thought provoking subjects. I am of an older generation and agree that ‘friends’ are friends despite the connection mode. If someone were to un-friend me I would think I had done something terribly wrong.
#44 by Jeffrey H. King on February 4, 2016 - 11:47 pm
Well, after having to scroll all the way to the bottom – 🙂 – I have to say what I tell people that I train into our sales group; save everything! Save everyone. You never know. After all, it’s not like electrons take up a shitload of room, right?
#45 by lahikmajoe on February 5, 2016 - 5:27 am
Completely agree with all of this. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been forced to unfriend or even block anyone. This online world has been mostly a rather positive experience for me. The environment of my friends via blogging and social media is a positive and supportive one.
#46 by memoirsofahusk on February 5, 2016 - 5:34 am
I posted a long response on here yesterday and today it’s gone. Have you uncommented me?
#47 by melissabanczak on February 5, 2016 - 8:27 am
Reblogged this on Melissa Banczak, Author and commented:
Hey guys, I see this unfriending thing all the time on facebook usually with sone sort of note about wanting only people who are import to that person. I’m reblogging Kristin’s post because she has a really good point about about networking being for everyone, not just writers. (Just for the lost dog posts alone, don’t unfeiend) You never know when that friend you never talk to can step up and become your hero.
#48 by Kathy Marker (@KathyMarker1) on February 5, 2016 - 8:51 am
This is wonderful! It is exactly how I feel. I’m going to share it with my friends!
#49 by Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2) on February 5, 2016 - 11:52 am
For those of us older than you, Kristen, we grew up with “friends” and “acquaintances.” I sometimes say I have a friend who does this-and-such, and then have to correct myself – they’re an acquaintance, not a friend. But online, friends are anyone I’ve connected with. Some friendships are deeper than others and become true friends, and some are just connections. So I’m a bit with the younger generation in that being an online friend or not doesn’t bother me. That said, I’ve only ever unfriended one person. She friended me on FB, I checked her profile, and she was another writer. So sure. Nothing happened for a couple days, then I got a DM touting her book. I didn’t respond, just unfriended her. She noticed and sent another DM asking if it was a mistake, and I replied that it wasn’t, but DMs were not for spam advertising. It actually led to a conversation – she was a newbie and didn’t know. So I re-friended her, although I don’t usually see her posts in my feed. I’m surf FB occasionally, but mostly I head for our WANA group and a couple others. I have certain friends and family marked as “close friends,” so their posts show up in my email. I’ll have to check out the list thing that someone else put in their reply.
#50 by Carmina Widmark on February 5, 2016 - 3:58 pm
Some of my Facebook friends are true friends and I’d have never known that, had I not added them because I didn’t know them in real life. I just spent 6 months in USA and met 13 of them while I was there and even stayed with some of them. Amazing friends and I would be lost without them. Love this post Kristen….so true and extremely well written. Thank you.
#51 by conniecockrell on February 5, 2016 - 4:03 pm
Love this post. I have never unfriended someone though I have had people unfriend me. I never thought about the whole process, it just seemed mean, is all. Thanks for taking on this topic, there is apparently more to it than I thought.
#52 by C. Marie Bowen on February 5, 2016 - 4:34 pm
Good post. It made me laugh and it made me think. I have unfriended – and have been unfriended. And you’re right, the older we are the more personal it is.
#53 by Rachel Thompson on February 5, 2016 - 4:38 pm
This makes me even happier for killing my FB. The only friends I have, and I have many, are real people in real time. For me, life is better lived outside the herd. I don’t care to be a sheep herder either. Seeing the lawn of reality though a jumble of electronic sheep legs while everyone is stampeding toward a few blades of fresh grass is hard.Thank you. I have another reason to avoid trampled fields.
#54 by Tamara LeBlanc on February 5, 2016 - 6:45 pm
Hmm, I guess I should pay better attention. I’m not sure if anyone has unfriended me. I’m sure someone has in the past. I’m not that interesting, but I’m just not aware if I’ve bored (or upset) someone enough to have them take me out of play. My sister was unfriended once and that I knew about. It upset her deeply. She had no idea why they unfriended her. And felt like she must have said something wrong. I, then, unfriended her because she’d upset my sister. Yes…I suppose I’m a 12 year old. But I tell you, this post opened my eyes to a lot of things I’ve never considered before now.
Thank you for your wisdom!
#55 by Joan Satterlee on February 6, 2016 - 10:56 am
I was recently unfriended my one of my daughter’s friends. Understandable. The girls had a falling out and their friendship is, I believe, not repairable. What really stung was when the girl’s mom unfriended me. I have not commented on the argument, taken sides or interfered in any way. We were, I thought, friends and adults who could remain friendly even if our daughters were not. Guess I was wrong.
#56 by brnjen12 on February 6, 2016 - 5:35 pm
Reblogged this on Jeannie Hall Suspense and commented:
Why tidying up your friends list on Facebook may be a supremely bad idea…
#57 by The Ranting Monkey on February 6, 2016 - 9:59 pm
I once unfriended someone and three months later they came and asked me why. My reaction was, “if it took you 3 months to notice, why does it matter?” I post a lot, she should have noticed sooner. In that case, she was best friends with someone that worked under my supervision and my posting tends to be of the personal nature. I had to keep a buffer.
I used to unfriend but that was before I decided I wanted to do more than go to work, come home, and go back to work. I want to write. Writers without readers never leave their day jobs. So, I don’t unfriend anymore. I may still unfollow but I keep the friendship.
#58 by Annelisa on February 7, 2016 - 5:40 am
I couldn’t agree more. Why ‘unfriend’ someone just because they have nothing to say at present!
#59 by Julie on February 7, 2016 - 9:19 am
Should have read this 6 months ago. Know better, do better.
#60 by MonaKarel on February 7, 2016 - 11:17 am
I unfriended and blocked someone who insisted on posting objectionable videos on my Facebook page. Otherwise, if someone is sliding down that slippery slope of stupid, I just unfollow
#61 by Joanna on February 7, 2016 - 11:16 pm
As always, I’m a tad late catching up. I keep it simple. I don’t add every friend request that comes along, and I’ve yet to unfriend anyone. If strive to keep my input upbeat, positive and sincere, which–hopefully–eliminates anyone being offended. I don’t block folks, but I will hide posts that I find offensive.
Online friendships count. People are people. How we connect shouldn’t define the quality of that connection.
Great post, Kristen. I might have written 5K words on the topic 😉
#62 by Joanna on February 7, 2016 - 11:20 pm
Okay, I lied (inadvertently). I unfriended both my sons. Not a good idea for school staff to be FB (or other venue) friends with middle and high school kids, especially in the same district where the day job is.
#63 by Terry Gene, Author of Matryoschka Series on February 8, 2016 - 9:45 am
First, I block any one who decides my page or profile is their poster wall. I don’t unfriend, but depending on how obnoxious they get, I will unfollow.
#64 by Wade Lancaster on February 8, 2016 - 5:31 pm
Good Afternoon Kristen! I nominated you for The Blogger Recognition Award.
#65 by lisaorchard1 on February 8, 2016 - 6:10 pm
Great post, Kristen. I agree with you 100%!
#66 by life101student on February 10, 2016 - 3:20 pm
Hi Kristen! There’s only been one time when I’ve actively noticed being unfriended. Most of the time, my facebook friend number floats around and I’m never quite sure how many friends I have. For instance, when someone leaves facebook, they’ll disappear from the friends list, but if they reinstate their account, they’ll suddenly show up again.
The one time that being unfriended cut deeply, I noticed, but I never said anything to her about it. And I’ve never, in the years since, tried to refriend her. I guess I’ve got too much pride to give the unfriending any validation. I’d prefer to let her wonder if I even noticed. I’m a horrible person, clearly.
Anyway… for myself, I don’t unfriend people. I just unfollow them, or click the little “see fewer posts from this person” thingie. Do that enough times, and the newsfeed starts getting centered on people I want to see. 🙂
Also, I’ve got a list of about 100 or 150 games and apps that are blocked. Every time I get a game request I don’t want, I just block that app entirely, so I don’t even show up as a potential invitee anymore. It really cuts down on the junk, over time. I admit, I do still play Candy Crush though… that’s freaking addictive!
#67 by Michelle Morrison on February 10, 2016 - 9:13 pm
life101student, you do have to do what you feel is best. I don’t know your circumstances, how long you have known this person or whether you interacted with them regularly or anything, but there is a place to not contribute to someone’s drama or pettiness by responding. It’s unfair for someone (particularly if you know them personally) to cut you off with no explanation. If someone unfriends someone just to “see if they will notice” they probably don’t deserve to be acknowledged. However, there is a balancing point that can be tricky to find. You shouldn’t assume because someone isn’t on your friend’s list anymore they are out to deliberately hurt you. There were a few cases where I noticed people I interacted with regularly weren’t on my friend’s list, and they had simply deactivated their accounts. There was one case where the person didn’t realize they weren’t on my friend’s list any longer. Facebook can do strange things sometimes. Whatever the case, I have learned to be discerning about which friend requests I accept. I don’t object to having people I’ve never met personally on my friend’s list, but I should at least know them from interacting with them on a Facebook page or messageboard. I have found that the “hide” and “unfollow” options are very useful. 🙂
#68 by life101student on February 10, 2016 - 11:36 pm
Hi Michelle! In this case, I had actually written here a few paragraphs of explanation for what happened, then deleted the explanation as being too long winded and also pretty personally revealing for being a relative newbie on Kristen’s blog. (I joined the WanaTribe site in January).
Basically, I have absolutely no doubt that in this particular case, the unfriending was very deliberate and meant to cut. (Based on what went down before it.) I had thought before that, that we might be able to come to a place of peace, or at least mutual understanding. But, the unfriending was a message that we were actually in scorched earth territory.
It wasn’t so much the “no explanation” part (since I knew why she was mad, since she’d shown up on my doorstep to scream it at me), as much as the stunned “wow, this really is over the top” part. It was so completely out of control… and it didn’t need to be that way. She admitted later, to a mutual acquaintance that she’d probably handled it all wrong, but there was no way she was going to make the first move to try to fix it with me.
As I said, I don’t generally pay much attention to who’s on my friends list, and how the numbers fluctuate. In that one case, I noticed because I was meant to notice. We had friends in common and people were asking me if I’d seen this, that or the other. Our mutual friends know what happened of course, and no longer ask. Heh.
Occasionally, I’ll get a friend request from someone that leaves me going “wait, I thought we were already friends”. I’ll go back to look at my friends list, and sure enough, there they are. Then I’ll send them a note asking if they’re changing facebook accounts, or if they’ve been hacked. Most of the time they’ve been hacked.
I like the “hide” and “unfollow” and various options for sharing posts, too. It really does help keep facebook manageable. 🙂
#69 by Michelle Morrison on February 11, 2016 - 10:39 am
Hi life101student, I think in this case you did the right thing by not engaging her. It’s not pride not to buy into someone’s drama, it’s common sense, and she obviously wasn’t willing to do her part to make things right. I’m sorry that happened, but it is a problem on her part. Thanks for sharing your story.
#70 by kathi Tesone on February 13, 2016 - 8:15 am
Great post about unfriending and I agree with most of your points. I’m wondering though i read a lot about Facebook not being revelant anymore. What are your thoughts?
#71 by bardotbarbiturate on February 14, 2016 - 8:10 am
I don’t think I’ve ever unfriended anyone, even when I probably should have. There’s a man I’ve known for years who’s been buying into every hysteria going and has subsequently turned an unpleasant shade of a$$hole. I’ve repeatedly pointed out scams, hoaxes and outright lies but despite telling him over and over again to fact check before sharing, he remains allergic to search engines. The last time I commented on a post of his, one of his “friends” replied that he hoped I got mutilated, raped, beheaded and burned (apparently he wasn’t happy I’d pointed out a fact). Whilst previously I would have launched into a tirade of pointed sarcasm and slurs, I remembered Jami Gold’s advice about appealing to the silent majority and I replied with more measure and calm than I thought I was capable of. He responded by hurling more and more playground insults and whilst I was livid, I did get some satisfaction from him getting increasingly wound up because I wasn’t responding in kind. As the debate went on we did find some common ground and he retracted his previous insults after I created a conflict between his bigotry and anti-establishment settings (you wouldn’t believe how easy it was!). I have no idea what the silent majority thought about the exchange although I’m certain he came off looking a bit of a dick.
What has disappointed me about the whole incident is that at no point did my “friend” step in and tell this guy that his comments to me were unacceptable. He only commented once and that was to agree with his world view. If anyone on my friends list (including my best friend) had behaved in such a way to him I wouldn’t have stood for it. I’ve since unfollowed my so-called friend (if I’d unfriended him, he would have seen it as me storming off because I couldn’t handle the “truth”) and left him to his echo chamber. If he gets scammed or malwared that’s his problem. There’s only so many times you can tell someone to check something before you want to blow your brains out!
Following this incident I’ve withdrawn from interacting on Facebook, it’s turned into a cesspit of crazy and I’m tired of repeating myself (“No, Virgin are not giving away first class tickets to anywhere in the world”, “No, Tesco did not turn away a soldier in uniform because it might offend minorities”). I know if I start making comments on innocent posts, it’s only a matter of time before I get drawn into the stupid again.
Still, one thing this guy has taught me is just how easy it is to push people’s buttons which is useful for character research!
#72 by Laura W-A on February 18, 2016 - 1:58 pm
I would have reported the person to FB for the things they said they hoped happened to you.
My mom has someone on her list who believes everything like that, too. I think her policy is to ignore most of it, but she will go to Snopes and look up some things, then just quietly leave a link to it in the comment thread.
#73 by Louise on February 16, 2016 - 7:49 am
Generally agreed. I see no point in unfriending people I’ve connected with unless there is a specific reason to. Connections are vital in many parts of life – so the more you have, the better. It then becomes just making sure you use various platforms appropriately/correctly. Enjoyed this post – thanks!
#74 by sarahsblog433 on February 17, 2016 - 2:54 pm
#75 by Chris Eboch on March 10, 2016 - 1:13 pm
I generally don’t unfriend, and I accept most requests if there’s a reason they might want to friend me (it’s another author and we have mutual friends). Facebook has some options, such as groups and unfollowing someone without unfriending them, that should make unfriending mostly unnecessary. Of course, they keep changing the way they do things. I liked it when they had an option to “see fewer posts” from certain people. That was useful for people who shared a lot of memes but little personal information.
#76 by KJmac on December 29, 2016 - 6:07 pm
I think some take Facebook way too seriously. From your view point, I would not want you as a friend, because it sounds as if you just keep friends to use them as you need them. That isn’t a friend. Who care who you know? There is Facebook and then there is real life. And as for jobs, isn’t that what Linkedin is for? I rarely ever talk about work on FB. And my page is private because I share a lot personally. And I can see if a person is liking and commenting on everyone else’s posts and NOT mine. Some are there just to be nosey stalkers. No thanks. If you are an ass, I unfriend you. If you ignore me, I unfriend you.
#77 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 29, 2016 - 7:44 pm
Nope. I don’t expect people to dance like puppets to be my friend and “prove” themselves. Maybe I don’t interact with you now, but that doesn’t mean that can’t change. Often algorithms are why I am not interacting and I resent people who cast me off just because I haven’t done something for them. We never know the friendships that could have been, the benefits we might have gained (even if that benefit is eventually being in a place to BE there for that person).
But we do need to be perfectly clear. These rules are not for the average person using FB for regular interaction. We are building a brand and our social media is vastly different. No, never use people. EVER. But also? We are a business. Every interaction we have has meaning for that business.
#78 by J on December 31, 2016 - 9:19 am
I find the comments giving off a mixed message. Some people are unfriending because some of their feed don’t interact with them on a personal level and you hate that you aren’t on that level. Some people, because they hate being promoted to and other simplely because they refuse to talk about boundaries. However, unfollowing seems to be popular. How is this different from unfriending? How is this not seen as childish and immature? The advice here, with examples in the comments are basically saying, me, me, me, me, me without any regards to how the other person feels.
#79 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 31, 2016 - 12:25 pm
When you unfriend you permanently remove that person from your list of friends. If you unfollow, you stay friends but the algorithm is adjusted so you no longer see what they post in your feed. It can help keep stress levels down with certain people for sure.