By Tracey Dowdy
Christopher Sibona, a computer science PhD student at the University of Colorado, has bravely stepped in to address a grave social issue: why people get unfriended on Facebook.
Sibona has conducted several surveys focusing on why users choose to disconnect from “Friends” on Facebook. Recognizing that he’s gathering data from a narrow population, Sibona’s work has nevertheless produced interesting results.
I’ve conducted my own far less scientific and credentialed survey and, coupled with Sibona’s results, here are some of the reasons why individuals get unfriended:
1. You aren’t friends offline. Maybe you met once or twice; maybe you have mutual friends; maybe you were looking for a business connection and thought this would be a good lead. In any case, you aren’t friends in the real world so there’s no need to pretend in the virtual world.
2. You’re a creeper. You use Facebook to stalk family members and don’t know how to balance real life and life online. We’ve all done our share of stalking (who hasn’t checked to see who got fat or went bald since high school?) but these friends have raised it to a level that would dazzle Edward Snowden.
3. You’re never online. Maybe you joined Facebook because everyone else was doing it – we’ve all caved to a little peer pressure now and then – but somewhere along the line you lost interest. No problem. Happens to the best of us.
4. You’re a Debbie Downer. Your life isn’t filled with ups and downs, just downs and down even further, and whether because of geography or relationship you are not close enough for friends to be able to help beyond platitudes that may seem patronizing.
5. In the words of my friend Deb, “TOO MANY CATS.”
6. You post in a language other than English.
7. Your comments or posts are too often disparaging to individuals, organizations or groups you know your friend(s) support. Which leads us to number 8.
8. You consistently post status updates to provoke debate and argument. Religion, politics, human rights…you take a polarizing position and invite controversy. It’s your page and you are free to post on whatever topic you choose, but understand that many are not interested in online debate and will simply choose to walk away.
9. You take pieces of information that may be unrelated and piece them together to gossip. Even if what you’re repeating is true, it’s still gossip. And yes, even though we both know that if individuals don’t want their personal business discussed it shouldn’t be posted in the first place, until Facebook somehow develops a Breathalyzer or maturity meter, it’s up to us to be the better person.
10. The English language.
a. Your spelling and grammar are atrocious.
b. You post as if you’re texting or this is a newspaper ad and you pay per letter.
c. You are a grammar Nazi. Even if you’re right, no one likes the Nazis except other Nazis. Is that the company you want to keep?
As an interesting side note, Sibona has found that the individual who received the friend request is more likely to be the one to do the un-friending.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.