What's a Little Unfriending among Friends?

Posted on by Brooke Lester

Like many other Facebook users, I have a lot of Friends that I don't interact with much; or, I find that my Friends list has come to be at crossed purposes with what I'm trying to get out of Facebook. After all, most of us developed our network of Facebook Friends when the service was new. Not only did we not yet have an idea of where our Facebook use was going, but Facebook itself has changed a lot in the meantime.

These are the considerations going into my upcoming Great Facebook Friends List Slash and Burn:

Does this person have another way to reach me? For example, if I know them as a colleague or former student at Garrett-Evangelical, then they either have my contact information, or can always reach me through the school. Not only that, but a Google search of my name will yield my web site, which has a Contact Me tab (or my YouTube channel, where they can comment; or my page, which includes a phone number; or…). So--might as well face it--everyone can reach me. There is no one who really needs to be my Facebook Friend in order to contact me.

Have this person and I interacted in the last year or so? Have we commented on one another's Updates? Have we Messaged each other? Do we interact offline or in other environments like Twitter? If I do interact with this person, on Facebook or elsewhere, then I'd like to preserve the Facebook Friendship.

What about former students? This is a hard one. I really do not want to send an implicit (and erroneous) message to former students that I am ready to forget about them, or worse, that I only reciprocated their Facebook Friendship perfunctorily or grudgingly. But, look, they're not my students any more, they are free citizens. In some cases, we have continued to interact with one another (see above). In other cases, we haven't. Former students can reach me by other means, just as anyone else can. I especially welcome them to do so, including those whom I Unfriend after years without interaction.

What about current students that I don't know well? Sometimes current students whom I don't know choose to issue me a Friend request, then do not interact substantively (or at all) with me. But, hey, hope springs eternal: maybe tomorrow. Maybe I could Like or Comment on something of theirs and something might come of it. What the hey. Keep 'em.

As I have said previously, nobody can say authoritatively what "Friending" on Facebook is. Don't let me, or anyone else, tell you what your experience of Facebook, or of Facebook Friending, has to be! Only through their continuing decisions do users decide for themselves what "Friending" can be, or what it will become.

[What's a Little Unfriending among Friends? was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2013/02/15. Except as noted, it is © 2013 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]