UnFriending A World Away

When do we tend to take aspects of social media a bit too seriously?  How about when we think we have been “Unfriended”?  I used to ignore posts and rants about unfriending angst, thinking it was a bit too overly dramatic, but I have to say that the feeling that you get when  someone close to you has done the deed is not a pretty feeling.  I suppose it depends on what you have invested in said friend or friendship.  I’m sure that most people carry some “friends” on their Facebook list who they don’t ever interact with and the loss of this particular  friend in the night wouldn’t even be noticeable.  But I’m not talking about that sort of friend at all.

Over two years ago I became very good friends with someone an entire world away who was from a completely different culture and religious background than myself.  We spent many long conversations debating about world events, philosophy and life in general.  My eyes were open to seeing my own country and our sense of entitlements in a completely different way.  Something happened and the friendship was lost for nearly a year.  Recently we found each other again on-line and struck up our deep and meaningful conversations.  This time around our friendship included the evolution of social media tools and we used Facebook as a forum for our ideas and philosophies.  My friend mentioned that he was not getting the sort of community response from his posts on Facebook and was going to “quit” Facebook for a while.  My interpretation of that meant that he was going to stop posting and spending hours/week on Facebook and return to the rest of his world in Saudi Arabia for a while.  I guess this is where differences in meaning can occur.  He had just posted some thought-provoking (aka rebel-rousing) statements on his wall earlier today and I took the bait and responded.  I checked back several hours later to see if he had counter-responded, only to find that I could no longer click on his name as it lay on my wall; the hyperlink was dead.  I felt really bad, as if perhaps something I had said in response to his posts had caused him to delete me from his select list of intellectuals from around the world.  It felt as if my words had been ripped out in mid-sentence and he had disappeared without a trace,  just like before.

I finally caught up with him in another space and simply typed the message:

Why?

Why what? he replied

Why did you delete me?

I didn’t delete you, I deleted the whole account.  I told you that I was going to stop posting to Facebook.

Ugghhhh!

Guess I am either taking social media too seriously or the relationships that I have built up, but in the end does it matter which?  Rejection is rejection pure and simple.  I’m just glad this was a case of mistaken meaning.

And for what it’s worth, I heard that the term “unfriend” has been added to New Oxford American Dictionary and was THE Word of the Year in 2009.  Read about it here.

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

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8 thoughts on “UnFriending A World Away”

  1. Wow! I am exactly the opposite! I have an online persona, I know people are busy and have limited bandwidth…so if someone unfriends me or stops following me, I simply assumue s/he has a reason that works for her…not that it has anything to do with me! On the other hand, when someone follows/friends me, I wonder what I said to deserve it! lol!

  2. But I was in the middle of a conversation with him….That was the jarring thing! Lol.

    You bring up a really good point and that is strategy or usage for social media sites. It all depends on how you use the particular tool. Some folks carry lots of friends on their Facebook friends lists, similar to the open networkers on LinkedIn. I have a FB profile that is for close friends and relatives only and is pretty locked down in terms of privacy settings. My biz page has a completely different strategy and I welcome everyone there: http://bit.ly/23slek

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. It’s interesting to me how many people are so interested (or even obsessed) with the number of Twitter followers or Facebook friends they have. Sometimes this is at the expense of losing sight of their needs and goals or what other people may find relevant.

    To me Twitter and Facebook are much more cumbersome to use if I have too many tangential relationships in there cluttering up the space and while there are great new tools to help manage large accounts (such as Twitter lists or HootSuite), I still like to review all my followers and friend requests and ignore those I don’t think will provide much value to me (or me to them – since it is often people who are only trying to connect with me to “build their numbers”, like multi-level–marketing people).

    I figure as long as I put out good content and pay it forward with social media the numbers will take care of themselves and if some folks fall off along the way, so be it.

    1. I am with you on that sentiment Rob. My Facebook list is at about 200 and I really enjoy the community that I have with these folks. I receive a couple of requests for a friend add/month on Facebook and often it makes sense to migrate them to a connection on LinkedIn because our “friendship” is of a professional nature only. Conversely, there are folks who send me a request to connect on LinkedIn (using the standard default message no less!) and I have no clue who they are. This is where the real estate in the connection message could really pay out for someone. Sorry, but if I have no clue who you are and we don’t have any type of real connection whatsoever and you don’t make an effort to state why/how we could be connected, it just isn’t going to happen!

      Again it goes back to each person’s individual strategy for how they want to use social media platforms. I am a ‘people person’ and I enjoy developing relationships with people in business and as friends. Get too big, and the pond becomes diluted. Just sayin’ with regard to my neck of the world….

  4. Maybe in mind or his society that is how you stop. You can’t post to something if it’s not there. I find it amusing that some locals have actually blocked me from adding them on twitter. That means I’m doing something right IMO.

  5. Thanks, Michelle! Good thoughts. I try not to let it bother me when people “unfriend” me, when they could have simply hidden my status updates on Facebook. I’m still trying to sort all of this out as I strive to communicate with various groups — personal and professional. I guess I’ll never be done. It’s a continuous process. As you’ve pointed out, it all depends on what goals I have set. Then, the path seems a bit more narrow. Take care, Mike

  6. I’m with Foxydot on this one. I usually don’t let it bother me. Everyone has their preference as far as social media platforms go, hence the wide array of people I’m connected to across the various platforms.

    I find that 99% of the time there is no personal slight intended by unfriending. It’s often just a choice to connect on a different platform, or a side effect of someone having an overloaded friend list.

    On my own part I connect where it seems most logical. Biz connections are always LinkedIn at first, upgrading to a more personal connection like Facebook once / if merited. Public profiles with interests/politics/etc make this a much easier call to make.

    There is a large overlap between my friends and collagues, as I try my best to work with people I like.

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