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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why You Got Defriended on Facebook

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 8:30 AM


I was recently defriended by someone I considered to be not quite a good friend but not an acquaintance either. I've found that I'm taking it rather personally, and I kind of want to know why she did it. Is it uncouth to send her a message asking her WTF happened?

~Defriended But Determined!

It's not uncouth, but you probably won't like the answer. While it's more socially acceptable to merely hide meddlesome Facebook friends, outright deletions are far from uncommon. If you're okay with getting a potentially unpretty response, then by all means give her a buzz. I would suggest, though, that you not go all Mel Gibson on her and drop a bunch of WTF-bombs, as that might cause her to further rescind you from her life.

It is hard not to be curious. Some people go so far as to install a script that will tell them exactly when someone defriends them or takes a Facebook hiatus. Twitter also has such a service, which goes by the twee name of Qwitter.

Using these services may provide keen insights as to when exactly your once-sweet friend became a monster. I find it more fun to guess why someone has defriended me. Usually the rationale goes something like this:

Huh. That girl that worked with my ex-girlfriend of two years ago who I have exchanged maybe seven sentences with in the history of ever is no longer on my friend list. She clearly hates kittens. Good riddance.

Of course, everyone interacts with Facebook differently. Some people are trying to promote their businesses, some people want to plough imaginary fields with you, some use it solely to keep in touch with family. Only a few things universally bring folks together on Facebook, and those are complaining about the weather and falling for dumb scams.

According to a study by a University of Colorado Denver Business School student, the top three reasons we get defriended are:

You post too many times a day about inconsequential crap, or about how awful your life is and everyone around you is the biggest asshole EVAR.

You post updates that are polarizing. Discussing religion and politics is passé not only at the dinner table. It applies to social media as well.

You post updates that are hateful, crude, or racist. Nuff said. It's consistently amazing to me what kind of hate people will spew on the Internet that they would never, ever say in actual conversation.

I'll add a top fourth reason, for posterity. They don't actually know you very well, or at all. Or you haven't seen that person in many years.

These days, when I'm out networking or mustering up what little game I have left at a bar, it's almost more common to exchange Facebook information with someone than actual phone numbers, so that we can vet each other when the warm bar blanket of swoon becomes the cold, unforgiving light of sobriety. But such contacts are often short-lived, and a few months down the road, they may seem like just more clutter in your virtual life.

My ultimate question is this: If you had gravely offended people on Facebook and they confronted you about it, would it actually change your behavior? Or would it just make you feel bad about yourself? 

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook

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Anna Pulley


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