The Stages of Facebook Unfriending

So the day comes and you find out that someone unfriended you on the Social Media Merry-go-Round that is Facebook.  Maybe you figured it out because you watch your friend's list count.  Or maybe Facebook's On This Day reminder pointed out someone you hadn't thought of in a while.  Or perhaps you have some software that helps.  However it happened, you now know that someone you use to consider friend no longer considers you a friend.

Sidenote: is it unfriend or defriend?  hypen or no?  Discuss in the comments.

Shock and Denial

The first reaction to learning that someone could possibly have removed you from the list of friends is to deny the reality of the situation.

How could they do this?  I helped them pass Calculus in college.

It is a normal reaction to rationalize unbelievable discoveries. It is a defense mechanism that blocks out the immediate facts.  I use to be one of those people who wouldn't unfriend someone unless they were completely toxic and would get sad if someone unfriended me.

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 Anger

 Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed.

Why am I the only person from our now defunct Book Club that they unfriended!

Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us angrier.

Bargaining & Rationalization

Okay they only unfriend me because I did not wish them a sincere enough birthday or forgot to high five them or acknowledge any recent unlocking of a Major Life Achievement.

Acceptance Retaliation

Confession:  I have been aggressively culling my FB friends list in order to get down to a more reasonable level.  I was keeping a lot of them because of loyalty and whatever but fuck if we don't interact anyway what is the point?  And I know some of this is caused by Facebook itself not showing you everyone's status updates in your feed.

For instance, there are a couple of people I use to do speed work with for Marathon Training...in 2005.Or somebody that I met at a friend's party a million years ago.  Do I really need to keep them in my friends list as some sort of message in a bottle to our future alien anthropologist exploring our post-apocalyptic planet?

Oh he was friends with this attorney who also happened to be friend with someone who would eventually know someone who was there when the revolution began.

I think not.  Therefore I am diligently and aggressively culling my friends list.  So far I’ve cut about 150 people albeit, 3-5 people at a time, once a week since Lent started.  You know what I discovered?  It’s funny but just deleting 1-2 people will change the look of your feed.  Unfriending Marek, the fellow Pole I met at Eurocircle ten years ago has suddenly shown me Erika in my feed again.  I haven’t seen her stuff since 2009!

In general I'm unfriending people that don't fit one of the criteria for being a friend/connection on FB:

  • Real friends and family that I care about;
  • People who entertain, enlighten or inform me;
  • People I'm loyal to;
  • People I know.

I discovered doing that breaks the FB algorithms and I see more of my active friends stuff.  I'm actually engaging with people on Facebook that I haven't interacted with in years!  So now the challenge is to unfriend people who would remain uninvolved in my life anyway so that I can rediscover people who have only been dormant because of those blasted algorithms.

Stay tuned.

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