Facebook Unfriending Etiquette?

We have all been unfriended and have done the unfriending for various reasons over the years. While the practice isn’t anything new, it has seemed to greatly pick-up over the years and more importantly, it seems to happen more and more with people you are actually friends with. It’s like we turned into immature, overzealous 10 year old’s who can’t take an opposite opinion while eating Lunch-ables and Fruit Roll-ups at our desk.

Let’s start with grouping the different friend zones.

Acquaintances: These are people who are just random space in your feed. You rarely, if ever, “like” a post of theirs or engage with them.

Engagers: These are people you engage with on Facebook via “liking and commenting” on posts and visa-versa. You wouldn’t necessarily call them a real friend but, and it could be for a variety of reasons, there is an engagement between the two of you. Some of these people you could have even met in real-life.

Friends But Not Great Friends: Seeing each other’s posts daily and sharing some interests, it is not-uncommon to move from engaging with someone on Facebook to becoming real friends that has segued into more than just engaging on each other’s posts, but real conversations and real feelings outside of Facebook. People who you call up to go to dinner with, people who you go drinking with. Essentially, people you care about at least enough to want to spend time with.

Great Real-Life Friends: And finally we have the Facebook real-life friends. These are people you are real friends with both outside and on Facebook. You could have met on Facebook or met elsewhere, but for all intents and purposes you are friends, not just “Facebook friends.” They are people you could have met several times, people you can call if you have to get rid of a body, or at least talk about a breakup with. People you have known for years, who would invite you to their wedding.

All of these groups have different levels within them as well, but in short there is a sliding scale of personal importance between acquaintances to great friends. And sometimes people can move between these levels from great friends to acquaintances quickly.

As I blow right past my 30’s, I have been astonished at how long I have been Facebook friends with some people. In a lot of cases, over 8 years. It ends up being part of your daily life, seeing these people go through breakups, child-birth, marriages, divorces, new jobs, vacations, bad days, good days. Depending on the scale, there is a certain amount of time and energy invested.

And for various reasons, some that make sense, some are silly, we can unfriend someone in half a second, even if we have known them for years in real life and have shared so many personal things. What I have always found odd, is how quickly we can zap someone from our lives and more importantly, not even say a word about it.

If they are an acquaintance, someone you never even talk to or have talked to, I think it is fine not to say anything. It is actually a bit weird if you do get a message.

When you are engaging with someone and depending on how many years, it might be polite to say something, but it really isn’t the end of the world if you don’t.

Where it gets interesting is when you are actual friends with someone, especially when you have been for years. You have spent time with them in real life, your relationship isn’t just on Facebook. It is weird to me that you can just zap someone you have spent a good amount of time with, known for years, shared so much with and just like that, they are out of your life. And for what? Most likely because they didn’t agree with a Facebook post.

Growing up when I had friends and the friendship ended, at least you knew why it ended most of the time. It wasn’t just “I’m done with you” for some unknown reason and bye. But there isn’t even that on Facebook. Most of the time you find out when trying to see what that person is up to, you realize that you were unfriended. And I can’t say that I am not guilty of doing the same.

It makes me wonder, however, if the scale has reached a point where you can call that person a friend (not just a Facebook friend), if you should at least have the common decency, the common courtesy, the common class, to at least notify the person that you are ending their friendship with you for X reason.

Maybe I hope for too much. I can tell you that I have lost real friends, people whom I generally cared about and spent time without outside of timelines. And to just have them zapped out of my life instantly because they didn’t agree with a Facebook post is troubling. It makes me keep my distance overall, because all it takes is one post or one comment and boom.

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