Lauren, Publicity Assistant
If you haven’t already heard, unfriend is the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year. In honor of this announcement, I surveyed Facebook users across the country about why they would choose to unfriend someone.
1. They’ve turned into a robot.
“People send me Green Patches all the time,” said Jane Kim, a television research assistant in NYC. “It’s annoying. And that’s all I ever get from them. Clearly, they’re not interested in actually being friends.”
That’s because your friends are robots, Jane. Marketing robots. These are the friends you never hear from except when they want you to join a cause, sign a petition, donate money, become a fan of a product, or otherwise promote something. Farmville robots are increasingly becoming problems as well, but are not yet grounds for unfriending.
2. You don’t know who they are.
“A few days ago, Facebook suggested I reconnect with a friend whose name I didn’t recognize,” said Jessica Kay, a lawyer in Kansas City. “She’d recently gotten married, but I hadn’t even known she was engaged. I’ll probably unfriend her later. Along with some random people I met at parties in college.”
“You’re tired of seeing [that mystery name] your newsfeed,” said Jonathan Evans, a contract specialist in Seattle. “You haven’t talked to that person since the random class you took together, and you’ll probably never talk to them again.”
3. They broke your heart.
Jonathan Lethem, author of Chronic City, shared that his number one reason to unfriend someone is “because they just broke up with you on Facebook.”
So, maybe they didn’t break your heart. But if the only reason you were friends on Facebook is because you two were somehow involved, it might be time to play some Beyoncé, crack open the Haagen-Dazs and click “Remove from Friends”.
4. You don’t like them anymore.
In the early years of Facebook, users would friend everyone their dorm, everyone from high school, and every person they had ever shared a sandbox with. But now, many people are finding they no longer like a number of their friends, and spend time creating limited profiles, customizing the newsfeed, and avoiding Facebook chat.
Teresa Hynes, a student at St. John’s University, pointed out that it’s silly to be concerned one of these people might find out you’ve unfriended them and get angry. “You are never going to see them again,” she said. “You don’t want to see them ever again. You hated them in high school. Your mass communications group project is over.”
5. Annoying status updates.
“I don’t want to see ‘So-and-so wishes it was over,’” said Andrew Varhol, a marketing manager in NYC. “Or the cheers of bandwagon sports fans—when suddenly someone’s, ‘Go Yankees! Go Jeter!’ Where were you before October?”
Excessive status updates are one example of Facebook abuse. Amy Labagh of powerHouse Books admits she is irritated by frequent updates. “It’s like they want you to think they’re cool,” she said, “but they’re not.”
A professor at NYU, agreed, and said he finds a number of these frequent updates to be “too bourgie.” “It’ll say something like, ‘So-and-so is drinking whatever in the beautiful scenery of some field.’ I mean, really?!”
The style and type of each update is also important. A number of users agree that song lyrics, poetry, and literary quotations can be extremely annoying. Updates with misspellings or lacking punctuation were also noted. “I once unfriended someone because they updated their statuses in all caps,” said Erin Meehan, a marketing associate in NYC.
6. Obnoxious photo uploads.
Everyone has a different idea about what photos are appropriate to post , but a popular complaint from Facebook users in their 20s concerned wedding and baby photos. “It’s just weird,” said a bartender in Manhattan. “I know that older people are joining now, but if you’re at the stage in your life when most the photos are of your kids, I mean, what are you doing on Facebook?”
“I think makeout photos are worse,” said his coworker. “My sister always posts photos of her and her boyfriend kissing. Sometimes I want to unfriend and unfamily her.”
Across the board, a number of users found partially nude photos, or images of someone flexing their muscles as grounds for unfriending. Another reason, as cited specifically by Margitte Kristjansson, graduate student at UC San Diego, could be if “they upload inappropriate pictures of their stab wounds.”
7. Clashing religious or political views.
“I can’t handle it when someone’s updates are always about Jesus,” said Robert Wilder, a writer in New York.
In the same vein, Phil Lee, lead singer of The Muskies, said he’s extremely irritated by “religious proselytizing and over-enthusiastic praise and Bible quoting. Often in all caps.”
An anonymous Brooklynite shared that he purged his Facebook account after the last Presidential election. “It was a big deal to me,” he said. “I found it hard to be friends with people who didn’t vote for Obama.” After which his friend added, “I voted for McKinney.”
8. “I wanted a free Whopper.”
In January, Burger King launched the Whopper Sacrifice application, which promised each Facebook user a free Whopper if they unfriended 10 people. It sounded simple enough, but if you chose to unfriend someone via the application, it sent a notification to that person, announcing they had been sacrificed for the burger. Burger King disabled the application within the month when the Whopper “proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.”
Since Facebook has made the home page much more customizable than it used to be, you might wonder, “Why unfriend when I can hide?” More and more, Facebook users are choosing to use limited profiles and editing their newsfeed so undesirable friends disappear from view. “I find lately I’m friending more people, then blocking them,” said Gary Ferrar, a magician in New York. “That way no one gets mad, no one’s feelings get hurt.”
Do you have another reason? Tell us about it!