“Researchers spend a lot of time examining how people form friendships online but little is known on how those relationships end,” said Christopher Sibona, a PhD student in the Computer Science and Information Systems program whose research will be published January by the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. “Perhaps this will help us develop a theory of the entire cycle of friending and unfriending.”
After surveying more than 1,500 Facebook users on Twitter, Sibona found the number-one reason for unfriending is ….
OK, … try a few guesses, then the click the fold to reveal the answer.
… frequent, unimportant posts.
So … be warned … to those out there spamming the rest of us with fracking Farmville, Pirate wars or Mafia games, you are on the fast track to a greatly reduced list of facebook friends.
No.2 reason – Posting about religion or politics … oh heck, I guess that puts me in the line of fire as well. Being a non-believer means I often stray into that category.
No.3 reason – Crude or racist comments … well yes, I can understand that one.
What else came up?
The study showed 57 percent of those surveyed unfriended for online reasons, while 26.9 percent did so for offline behavior.
Sibona found a sort of online hierarchy of dominant and subordinate relationships. For example, those making friend requests stood a much higher chance of being abruptly unfriended.
At the same time, those doing the unfriending seemed to hold the upper hand in the relationship.
It’s a delicate dance with its own rules or “nettiquette,” far different from face-to-face interaction.
“There is a lot more nuance in the offline friendship world. You don’t have to go up to someone and ask them to be your friend,” Sibona said. “That’s not the case online. It can be awkward.”
An AOL study showed 30 percent of teenagers wanted to unfriend their own parents. Sibona found two users who actually did this. One later refriended his mom but put her on a limited profile so he could manage her online interactions.
While some respondents reported being deeply hurt at being unfriended, others were more amused than traumatized.
“There are a wide variety of reactions depending on who did the unfriending and why,” he said.
So there you have it, Facebook is now an item of scientific study. Would you believe it even makes it into the dictionary. In 2009 “unfriend” was named word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Ah yes, one final clue that not everybody gets it yet. There was an article in Science Daily that reported the details of this study … click here to see it … The article had this at the end …
Editor’s Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Now there is a great “WTF” moment … :-)