Why We “Unfriend”
By Sarah Klein
process of deleting no-longer-wanted Facebook friends is now so
widespread that “unfriend” was named the New Oxford American
Dictionary’s 2009 Word of the Year.
in a recent survey of over 1,500 Facebook and Twitter users,
Christopher Sibona, a computer science and information systems PhD
student at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, started to
look at the reasons why we unfriend.
“Researchers spend a
lot of time examining how people form friendships online, but little is
known about how these relationships end,” Sibona said in a press release. “Perhaps this will help us develop a theory of the entire cycle of friending and unfriending.”
The number-one reason for unfriending, according to Sibona’s research? Frequent, unimportant posts.
addicts beware: Whether you had coffee or tea this morning, and whether
it was hot or iced, is really of little importance to your online
connections. As much as we might like to think that our network is
waiting with baited breath for our every update, “The 100th post about your favorite band is no longer interesting,” said Sibona.
if you wouldn’t dream of talking about politics or religion at a dinner
party, it appears you shouldn’t broach the subjects in the virtual
world either. Posts about sensitive issues like these were the second
most common reason for unfriending someone, followed by offensive
comments and crude or racist remarks.
While online behavior was
most often cited as the reason for unfriending, almost 27 percent of
people surveyed said they had unfriended based on a person’s offline
Because of the casual nature of many Facebook
friendships, the survey found a wide range of reactions to being
unfriended. While some people felt slighted, others were merely amused,
Among teenagers who use Facebook, there is a
common desire to unfriend a parent. An AOL study found that 30 percent
of teens with parents as friends would like to end the online
And as always, be careful about sharing too much
online. Almost 55 percent of potential employers use Facebook to
investigate job candidates. “The same kinds of posts that could get you
unfriended might also be viewed negatively by recruiters,” said Sibona.