Recently I received an email from someone who I unfriended about six months ago. They wanted to know if they had done something to offend me. I’ve been unfriending people on Facebook for years. This is the first time someone seems to have noticed.
I’ve yet to unfriend anyone because they’ve offended me. I don’t offend that easily.
I once unfriended someone because they indirectly asked me to. They asked that if any of their Facebook friends voted for a certain political party in the last federal election to be unfriended ASAP. I obliged.
My reason for unfriending someone has nothing to do with being offended, their political, religious, or personal views and opinions. I won’t even unfriend someone who posts too often; for me that’s posting more than three or four times a day on a regular basis. I might mute those people, but I won’t unfriend them.
So, what’s my criteria for unfriending?
I have zero interest in collecting Facebook friends. I once let my friends total reach just over 500 hundred people. That was a mistake. I now try to keep my friends total at around 250 or so.
I don’t accept friend requests from anyone I haven’t made some type of personal connection with. Once I accept a friendship request that person becomes part of I what consider sacred. Friendship, even if it’s just social media friends.
I believe it’s a privilege to be allowed into a person’s life, even if it’s just on Facebook, to read their personal thoughts, to see what motivates them, to view pictures of their lives, to be able to like their posts and comment on them. I feel honoured and privileged to receive a friend request. I never extend a friend request lightly.
I don’t fully understand Facebook’s algorithms that determine which friends’ posts appear in my newsfeed or which friends’ newsfeeds my posts will appear in. But I do know that overall, I’ll at least get some posts from each of my friends over a given time period and they’ll get some of mine. I have a chance to see what my friends are up to and they have a chance to see what I’m up to, just from the newsfeeds we get.
Now, back to the question. What’s my criteria for unfriending?
Essentially, it comes down to the fact that I consider it a privilege to be friends. I fully understand I’m talking about Facebook friends. Even if it’s social media friends, I consider the term friend a privilege. If someone wants to share in the privilege in my social media life, and I in theirs, I hope for a certain level of interaction, of friendship. By that I mean the occasional word of encouragement, be it a “like” or a positive comment, or a respectful comment with a differing opinion if my post is of an opinion nature.
I don’t record any of the interactions between my social media friends and I, it’s simply gut feel and good memory. If someone never interacts with me on Facebook, never comments on my posts, never “likes” ANY of my posts over a period of about a year, then, I say to myself, they’re not really a friend. There’s no point in us sharing this social media friendship privilege, because it seems pretty one sided. I try to respond to posts by each friend I have on Facebook.
I want to be clear. I don’t respond to each of my friends’ posts. Nor do I expect my friends to respond to all of my posts. I respond to those that move me. I might go through a few weeks or more of not responding to a friend’s posts, because I didn’t happen to find any of the posts of interest at the time, but eventually one does pop up. So, I respond.
I consider my posts to be of high quality, don’t we all, so it shouldn’t be too hard to respond to one of my posts a few times per year. Otherwise, it’s not honouring the social media friendship.
Every once in a while, when I see that my friend count has gone over 250, I scroll through my friends list and unfriend those who haven’t interacted in the past year or so.
Bottom line. I value my social media friendships. When someone doesn’t, I unfriend.
Note: There are a few exceptions where I’m aware of extenuating circumstances. Plus, there’s no way I’m unfriending my wife.