To Unfriend or Not To Unfriend


I’m not one to boast about my stock-picking prowess, mostly because I rarely pick winning stocks, but I am happy to say that I did invest a little in Facebook and that I now have a 50% profit (on paper at least.)

I am not sure what possessed me to buy that stock because it’s clear that the Facebook fad has peaked.  Younger hipped kids have fled for more cutting edge social media like Snapchat and the average age of the Facebook user just keeps getting older.

I can’t help noticing that the proportion of personal posts on my news feed is declining relative to the institutional posts from musicians, writers, podcasters and companies that I have “liked.”  Facebook fatigue appears to have set in, with many members realizing they actually don’t have that much interesting to say.

Personally I’m sorry to see that because I actually do enjoy seeing photos of kids, vacations, family get-togethers, new pets, shots of funny people on the street, etc.  And the news, jokes, and YouTube clips?

But the question does arise – with Facebook becoming less compelling, when is the time to trim back your list of friends?  I now have exactly 300 “friends,” which seems high for the limited amount of real-world socializing I do.  To maintain that ceiling, I am committed to cutting out one friend for every new one I add. Here are the categories of people I am considering eliminating:

– Would-be political pundits. You all know the type. People who post nasty remarks or cartoons about someone or a political party you like. The thing with these people usually is that they would be outraged if they posted the same number of nasty comments about their guy.

– Over-posters: These are people who post too frequently, especially people who think you don’t read the newspaper yourself and need to see about five clips a day.

– The never-posters.  There is a whole category of people who were cajoled into signing up and apparently lost their password after friending a handful of people because they’ve never been heard from again.  Some of my best friends in real life fall into this category, and although they clutter my friends list, I will maintain them for now just in case, like Frankenstein’s monster, they are suddenly jolted to life.

– Yankee fans. Enough said.

– “Friends” who are not friends. When I first joined Facebook I was promiscuous in my friending. This was particularly true of people I used to work with, some of whom I only met once or twice (and who now no longer even work where I used to work.)  And the point of keeping them as friends is: what?

– One-way friends.  There are people who post a lot themselves but have never acknowledged my existence. Not even a lousy “like” or happy birthday.

One of the reasons people are so anxious about their Facebook connections is the use of the word “friend,” a heavily freighted word that carries deep emotions.  LinkedIn’s “connections” and Twitters “followers” are much more neutral and don’t set off a barrage of angst along the lines of: is this person my real friend or not.  I’ve never once thought of culling my LinkedIn associates because the word “connection” doesn’t carry the same baggage as “friend.”

In the end, I always worry that I’ll hurt someone’s feelings if I unfriend them.  That’s probably an ego thing — like it would really ruin someone’s day to learn they can’t see my posts any more, especially since they’ve given minimal evidence that they care one way or another. Nevertheless, whenever I scroll through my list of friends to see who I can delete, I always hesitate.  That’s me – the Hamlet of Facebook.  To unfriend or not to unfriend.

  1. Eileen said:

    Nicely said…hope I dont’ get cut…especially since I was raised by and am married to Yankee fans.

    • Eileen, I’m in a forgiving mood after the last World Series, so you good for at least another season.

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