Thought Catalog

The Top Five People You Should Unfriend From Facebook

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In the 21st century, the popular social networking site Facebook has made a verb of the term ‘friend’, and it is now common to ‘friend’ people on Facebook/field numerous ‘friend’ requests on a regular basis.

However, it is not always clear what the purpose of being Facebook ‘friends’ with someone actually is. In the case of an individual who is geographically distributed from you despite the fact you work together, or the individual once lived near you or attended school with you it makes logical sense to be Facebook ‘friends’ so you can see the pictures and updates from their life where you are not present [assuming you genuinely like this person and are interested in remaining connected to them in a superficial regard].

In the case of individuals with whom you are locally socially acquainted and enjoy hanging out, it makes logical sense to be Facebook ‘friends’ so that you can invite your friends to events, view which events people plan to attend or receive invites to friends’ performances or parties; in other words, Facebook acts as a connective device that is easier than calling/texting everyone every night to say ‘what are you doing, let’s do something together.’

But we currently abide a culture where ‘friend’ doesn’t really mean ‘friend’ anymore, but ‘someone I clicked on via the internet’ ‘someone who has for some reason given me permission to be a spooky voyeur’ or ‘someone into whom I placed a digital hook in the event I might want to use them for something someday.’

In an effort to reclaim some semblance of meaning for the word ‘friend’, consider undertaking a Facebook ‘purge’, whereby you ‘unfriend’ everyone who isn’t actually your friend nor someone with whom you are interested in being friends or getting to know under consideration of being friends. You have already read a number of mainstream articles advising you not to be Facebook friends with your ex or your employer, but in addition you should examine your ‘friend list’ and delete from it the following individuals.

‘The Rando’

One time you were hanging out with some friends and they brought a couple people you had never met, and after attending a social event such as a band show, bar night or raucous dinner you all went to someone’s house/apartment, possibly your own, where everyone sat around drinking while listening to music or watching a movie and talking over it until everyone was stupidly drunk and trickled apart sometime in the nonspecific void that occurs after midnight but before 3 AM.

‘The Rando’ was that bro who sat at the very end of the couch and didn’t say very much, possibly even drifted off with his mouth open while sitting next to someone you knew. The next day ‘The Rando’ sent you a friend request and you said to yourself ‘I hung out with that guy, I guess we are friends now’ and accepted it.

You never see that guy again. One day he pops up in your feed and you say to someone ‘who was that rando bro’ and nobody in your social circle reports actually being his friend, maybe someone goes ‘oh that’s just this guy I know.’ You should delete him from your Facebook friends.

‘The Mutual’

You received a friend request from someone you have never met, but who has a high number of friends in common with you, possibly a list of mutuals who are closely associated with one another such as your colleagues or a certain ‘subset’ of your social circle, and you said, ‘oh, this is a friend of theirs,’ and you accepted the request.

However, you have never met nor corresponded with this person. Looking at your friends list one day you see an unfamiliar name and go ‘wait who is this again’ and you visit their profile and notice they do not live in the same state as you or your ‘mutuals’, they have a career in a field wholly unrelated to yours, and possibly they have a very high number of Facebook friends, meaning that the ‘mutuals’ were possibly coincidental. You ask your ‘mutuals’ who the person is and each tells you they just accepted the ‘friend’ request under the assumption that the individual was a friend of the other. You should delete this person from your Facebook friends.

The ‘Networking Opportunity’

You received a friend request from an individual in a career field related to yours or in a social scene to which you aspire to join. They appeared to be friends with other ‘relevant’ individuals in your field/social scene, and a cursory perusal of their Facebook photos indicated that they have a pretty sweet life into which you fantasized you might be invited. You felt an illogical sense of flattery that this person somehow sought you out and ‘friended’ you, and wondered ‘is this person familiar with my work/identity, do they want to offer me a job/sweet party invite’.

The person has never contacted you and has generally never actually acknowledged your existence except to send you self-promotional invites to things like their friend’s stand-up comedy act that costs $40 to attend, their friend’s gallery opening in a place too inaccessible relative to your living situation, or otherwise annoying all-caps bulletins that are not of actual interest to you. Their ‘feed’ is clotted with links to obvious news articles and impersonal information that appears nearly unintelligible/useless. You become aware the person has over 1000 Facebook ‘friends’ and does not use the social network to be social or to network. You should delete this person from your friends list.

The Attractive Member Of Your Preferred Sex Whom You Do Not Actually Know

You received a friend request from someone you felt you did not know, and clicking on their profile to examine everything further revealed that all of the data was set to private except for the profile photo, which was noticeably attractive to you in a fashion that made you fantasize about meeting/dating/sleeping with this person, so you overcame a vague wariness of strangers to see what this good-looking individual might possibly want with you and accepted the friend request.

You might have even one night decided to overcome the awkwardness of actual non-acquaintance to Facebook-chat the attractive stranger on Facebook [as recommended in ‘Five Things To Do When Drinking On The Internet], but in most cases the unsettling gap between ‘Facebook friend’ and ‘real friend’ has ultimately formed an insurmountable wall to you actually meeting this person, despite the occasional message from one or the other of you listlessly suggesting you should hang out or apologizing for going months without answering a message suggesting you should hang out or proposing plans that never materialize. This person never lists their ‘relationship status.’

Instead of periodically browsing this person’s photos, scrutinizing pictures of them with members of their preferred sex to try to discern whether they are actually/were ever single/are still available et al or just generally gazing creepily at this person you don’t actually know and probably will never, you should delete them from your Facebook friends list.

The Ever-Present Near-Stranger

This is an individual whereby you ‘kind of know who they are’ via having met them at a few parties or having worked with the company or individual for whom they work or having ‘seen them around’ on several occasions. This person seemed faultlessly nice if not especially unusual or piquant, so when they sent you a friend request you accepted it without much further consideration, i.e. ‘I know him/her, he/she seems nice.’

Since the time you accepted that friend request the individual comments on and/or likes nearly every ‘status update’ or photo you post. They feel the need to ‘weigh in’ on discussion threads among you and people they don’t know, they post ‘???’ when your friend leaves an inside joke on your ‘wall’, and every time you change your profile photo they write ‘Great photo!’ They employ a lot of exclamation points and generally use ‘emoticons’ liberally.

You examine your Facebook page and notice that should anyone examine your Facebook page in an attempt to assess you or your life, one would assume that this individual is in fact a very close friend of yours and not someone you hardly know who seems to be very involved in your Facebook page for no apparent reason and in a fashion you do not reciprocate. You feel vaguely guilty about detaching yourself from someone just because they seem to like you/your life too much, and you occasionally halfheartedly ‘like’ some things on their Facebook page out of a sense of obligation.

You are also aware that should you ‘unfriend’ this person he/she is liable to immediately notice, given how attentive he/she seems to be to your page. They will live. You should delete them from your friends list. TC mark

image – IStockPhoto.com
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This is for the women who are first to get naked, howl at the moon and jump into the sea. This is for the women who seek relentless joy; the ones who know how to laugh with their whole souls. The women who speak to strangers because they have no fear in their hearts. This is for the women who drink coffee at midnight and wine in the morning, and dare you to question it. This is for the women who throw down what they love, and don’t waste time following society’s pressures to exist behind a white picket fence. The women who create wildly, unbalanced, ferociously and in a blur at times. This — is for you.

“When Janne has a new poem written, I shut my life down to do nothing but read it, and then when I turn my life back on, everything is better.” — James Altucher

You’ve never read poetry like this before

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The Top Five People You Should Unfriend From Facebook is cataloged in , , , ,
  • http://twitter.com/dementia_inc dementia inc.

    “Assessing your life” via facebook is so sad.And hip.Don't.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    What about publishers/quarterlies. Are they 'networking' opportunities?

    • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

      If they don't set up a Fan Page for you to like, it's probably because they're afraid no one will actually like it, and so I say unfriend them. I might actually unfriend the last of those today.

      • MsJezaBitch

        Please tell me you aren't on a de-friending spree because this article told you to…

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        No, no, just you.

      • MsJezaBitch

        What does that even mean?

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        It was a joke.

        Look, I have 30-something Facebook friends.

        *phm* <http: phmadore.com=””></http:>

      • MsJezaBitch

        I still have no idea what you're talking about.

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        ** <http: phmadore.com=””>I'm sure it has nothing to do with you being a

        humorless bore.</http:>

  • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

    If you're me, you just unfriend everyone who you don't care about, get over it, and appreciate how the smaller friends list makes it easier to keep up with the people you really want to care about.

  • http://profiles.google.com/reallyjoel Joel Nyström

    I like how these comments also have like buttons

  • PERFECTCIRCLES

    Don't you dare fucking de-friend me.

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    Nice

  • Zw

    good read but can we 'cut it out' with 'this' shit

    stop pretending to be embarrassed by the subject matter of an article you just spent 10+ paragraphs on

  • AaronWB

    Why “unfriend?” Can't you just filter people out of your feed if you are annoyed at seeing their updates? Is there some imperative that your roster of Facebook friends match your real life friends? I have pretty much all of the Facebook friends described in this article but I don't feel the need to “unfriend” them because they aren't affecting me one way or the other.

    Is there some other reason to “unfriend?” Seems like it just unnecessarily insults people.

    • Chloé

      Well idk about you, but I personally don't want people that aren't my 'real life' friends to have liberal access to my photos, information, etc.

      • AaronWB

        I guess it depends on what info you have posted. If I had incriminating pics or something I might be nervous but if a random person wants to know my favorite books and see some pics of my last vacation, it doesn't really bother me.

      • MsJezaBitch

        To be fair to Chloe, just because something doesn't bother you doesn't mean that it shouldn't bother anyone. There are a LOT of people that don't want random people to have access to said information, incriminating or not.

      • AaronWB

        You're right. I think there may be a male/female difference as well. Maybe the stalker-type risks are more present for women.

        I feel like the risks related to someone knowing mundane details about my life are pretty small.

    • ParahSailin

      “Seems like it just unnecessarily insults people.”
      Like this? “If internet articles make you 'feel bad about your body' you are lame and weak. If 'feeling bad about your body' is a serious issue for you, you must have a cushy life with few real problems.” –AaronWB, “On Booty” comment thread

      You don't seem to have a problem with unnecessarily insulting people, at least on TC…

  • Brandon

    can't wait for this whole “obsessing over facebook” era to be over with.

    • MsJezaBitch

      What about twitter?

      And don't forget that Myspace was one of the first major online social networking sites, and it's STILL not dead. Sure, it's on the ground puking blood, but not dead.

  • Chloé

    I'm kind of over all these facebook-related posts. As for this one, if you're not actual friends with the person, then why would you give them access to your personal information, photos, etc?

    • MsJezaBitch

      I don't blame you for not wanting to give away that information, but… some people are perfectly aware of the information that they are giving out. Not everyone uses facebook solely for their real life friends. I actually have two fb accounts. One is for my real life friends, and the other is for people I think are interesting. Some people use it to network, some people use it for fb games and other people use it for marketing. There are many uses for Social networks, regardless of its original purpose.

    • AaronWB

      Why would you be concerned with people who aren't your friends seeing personal info? It's not like your social security number is up there. If some random person wants to see my vacation photos, it doesn't really bother me.

      • PERFECTCIRCLES

        Obviously we use Facebook in much different ways.

  • MsJezaBitch

    I hate it when people blog about what other people SHOULD do. I started reading it because it sounded like it might be funny, but it was just uptight. There are just as many reasons TO be “friends” with people that you don't know as there are NOT to be. Live your life, and stop concerning yourself so much with what other people are doing.

  • mattg21

    I met my boyfriend because he was the “Attractive Member Of Your Preferred Sex Whom You Do Not Actually Know.” I friended him 3 years ago…we became friends in December and we've been dating since January. You never know what could happen!

  • faith

    Facebook is still relevant. “Obsessing over Facebook” is still relevant because Gen. Y still spends so many god forsaken hours doing it each day. As a seemingly central nerve to our modern lives, it still deserves attention.

  • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

    I quit facebook last year. To this day, I still don't miss it. I'd rather focus on nurturing real relationships than waste precious time with the fake ones.

  • Neil

    Facebook seems like the digitization of electioneering, except on a more petty level. It's less about friend politics and more about social politics. As a spectator who hasn't actually had Facebook since early 2008, it seems to me that people on the network aren't interested in genuine, meaningful connections; they just want to spread themselves around and get their name prominently out there in the circles which concern them. It's marketing more than anything else.

    And this is nothing new. Politicians have campaigned based on making “friends” with prospective voters, and artists have become successful based on the same principle for centuries. To them, they're consumers and not friends. However if you used “consumer” to describe them, they probably wouldn't be too thrilled, so “friend” is used to soften the blow.

    I'm not sure that there's an English word suitable to describe it, but I do know a latin one: “familiares.” Cicero and other Roman Republican figureheads had loads of them, people whom they identified as friends for social advancement but without the social effort. I suppose “acquaintances” would work, but “Facebook: A place for acquaintances” doesn't have the same ring to it. “Facebook: A place for familiares”?

    Still, all of this is summed in the words “social network” quite nicely. I'd sooner go on Facebook to sell my screenplay/CD/novel/website/visual art/photography/plans to run for office, than I would to make friends.

  • Anonymous

    You should also never friend someone who is your wifes’ previous student student from school. Doesn’t matter if that person has grown into an adult.  No student should pursue the spouse of a teacher they once had in school.  It is bad for the reputation of the teacher, their spouse and the now adult student.  One might say you are looking to break up that marriage and then you become known as a ho.

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