Thanks, But No
It’s hard to resist the siren call of a friend request on Facebook. Sure it’s a little childish, but who doesn’t want the world to know they have one more friend? It’s harmless enough until you realize you’d rather not have the guy who teased you mercilessly in grade 8 looking at your family’s beach vacation pics. How do you unfriend someone gracefully in a digital age where simply screening their calls won’t cut it anymore?
The easiest way to avoid uncomfortable unfriending situations is to be a little more choosy about who you friend in the first place. An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. Think about the kind of things you post on your Facebook account. Are these things you would talk to this person about over coffee? If not, you might want to decline that request.
It’s also important to think about the other people on your list. My 19 year old niece and her 15 year old sister are friends of mine on Facebook. They’re going to assume that anyone on their Aunt’s list is a safe person, so that guy from way back who’s great but tells off color jokes sometimes? I declined his request. It’s turned out to be a really great filter. Anyone I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to my nieces is probably not someone I need in my life either.
So what happens once the damage has been done and you need to unfriend? Go ahead and hit the button, guilt free. As Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz, columnists for CNN.com wrote in a recent post, unfriending is healthy:
According to Christopher Sibona, who penned Unfriending on Facebook: Friend Request and Online/Offline Behavior Analysis, a paper he’ll be presenting at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 50 percent of people who have unfriended someone saw the person in question zero times in the past year.
If your former friend has no impact on your current life, and you don’t foresee yourself getting the band back together, why keep him in your cyber stable?
If they’re not in your life, they don’t need to be in your online life either. Think of it like cleaning out your closet. You’re never going to wear that sweater again, so why are you letting it take up space?
If the person is someone you have almost no contact with they probably won’t even notice that they’ve dropped off your list. If you do have someone who used to be close that you no longer want in your life, be a grown-up. Hit the button, or if that feels too harsh, send them a private message on Facebook and then hit the button. I’ve had to do that once and yes, it felt like breaking up, but it really was for the best.
Social networking sites are supposed to be fun. Keep your list pared down to the people you actually want to talk to and you’ll find it’s less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.
Looking to add some three dimensional friends to your life? Try our free life lesson Finding Mentors, Making Friends for great practical advice on how to meet like minded people no matter which phase of life you find yourself in.
How do you deal with breaking ties online?