This weekend, I got dumped. Facebook friend dumped, that is. And I would not have even noticed that I was short one FB friend had the person not emailed me to explain why he was unfriending me.
Justin, as I’ll call him, is an old friend. There wasn’t any ill will between us (I swear!), so when I friended him on Facebook, I thought we’d get back in touch. He accepted my request.
But not for long.
After a week or so of Facebook friendship, Justin informed me that he was disappointed that I wrote/posted articles on my wall about topics like farts and rape and sex. He also wrote — and here I quote directly — ”I had thought you were an intelligent girl.” He explained that he was sorry to have to do this but he was going to unfriend me.
Call me naive, but I was shocked.
Why did he think it was necessary to contact me and not only tell me he was unfriending me but explain why? He truly could have unfriended me without making an announcement and I likely wouldn’t have noticed. Plus, his unfriending justification made sense to him in his own head, but it was childishly rude to verbalize in real life. We hadn’t been in touch for years and then he disses the contents of my Facebook page and insinuates that I’m not “an intelligent girl” because of what I write about?! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, buddy.
Clearly, I am stung by Justin’s behavior, because I remember him as being a sweet, if troubled soul. I thought I was getting back in touch with an old friend. Instead, I got dissed.
In conclusion, if you desire to excise someone from your social media life, DON’T BE LIKE JUSTIN. Here are six tips on how to unfriend on Facebook or unfollow on Twitter, without making a referee pull out the douche card:
1. Disappear as subtly and quietly as possible. Don’t email the person to explain why you’re unfollowing. Don’t tweet or Facebook or write on Tumblr or post an interpretive dance on Vine about why you’re unfollowing. Don’t call the person up on the phone and verbally explain why you’re unfollowing. Why? Because assuming a person needs to be informed exactly why you’re unfriending them is self-absorbed and definitely begging for drama.
2. Don’t hastily unfriend or unfollow someone important if you have issues to hash out in real life. Oh-so-many feelings get unnecessarily hurt when people hit “unfollow” or “unfriend” over a middling argument or minor disagreement. Ex-ing someone out on social media is the 21st century way of saying “I want you out of my life” — do you really need to pull out the big guns when maybe you just need to hash things out over a cup of coffee (or something stronger). To be sure there’s pl-e-e-e-e-n-t-y of nogoodniks — bullies, harassers, etc. — who deserve to be unfollowed, if not banned, from your social media. I’m thinking abusers, creeps, plagiarists, etc. But if you’re just annoyed at your best friend for getting a stain on the dress she borrowed? Chill out, hold onto that trigger finger, and solve your problems in real life.
3. Just click “hide” to get rid of annoying Facebook posts. The big guns aren’t needed for every social media violation. Sometimes you like a person (say, me) but you don’t like their Facebook postings about Lucca’s dog farts in The Frisky office. Just click “hide” and guess what? You don’t have to see it! Problem solved.
4. If you do unfriend someone, don’t bitch about them in their absence. No one loves venting about awful people being awful more than me. I just don’t do it on social media, where it could easily be passed along to the subject of my ire. You, like me, are nothing but class! So remember how easy it is to screengrab and, like Scully and Mulder said, “Trust no one.”
5. If asked directly, prepare a (polite) reason or excuse if your unfriending has been noticed. Some friends might notice you unfriended them. (Most will be oblivious.) So if you are asked directly about unfriending, use your diplomacy skills but be as honest as you can manage. I have unfriended some people I knew from high school who would try to incite arguments about feminist topics on my Facebook page and be rude to my other friends. When the shit-starters asked me about why they got unfriended, I explained that I felt compelled to babysit everyone during these types of arguments, and I just don’t have time for that. It was the truth! You don’t need to apologize to anyone for being firm in your conviction to unfriend. And you certainly don’t need to suffer anyone’s guilt trip. Just be sure that you’re 100 percent clear in your communication — but again, ONLY IF ASKED.
6. Remember that while relationships on social media are real, social media still isn’t completely the real world. You can get rid of people online to a degree, but you still may have to face them in real life — probably in unexpected situations. It pays to be cordial online, especially during a social media “breakup,” because this person likely isn’t gone forever. For example, I was once confronted by a pushy Republican from my hometown who I blocked on Twitter because he kept tweeting “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DEAD BABIES?!?!” stuff whenever I wrote about abortion rights. I had to explain to this guy, politely, that I blocked him because his tweets were annoying me. He apologized. It was awkward, but not a huge deal. And then I ran into him in my hometown, no joke, like 12 times after that. Remember to always keep it classy because you could always run into former social media pal at a high school reunion, the grocery store or in airport customs lines. That is, if you get away from your computer at all. Seems like you spend a lot of time online …
Did I miss anything important about unfriending? Let us know in the comments!