Thursday, April 24, 2014

Have you unfriended somebody on Facebook?

My brother once started unfriending people on Facebook. Then made a game out of it. Thinned them down till there was only one friend. Declared them the winner. Then unfriended them and deleted his account (Jack Arnott)

Last week, I unfriended two people on Facebook. That was for the first time in my life, and I want to admit I was not so comfortable doing that and potentially hurting people. But what if the posts they made were unbearably disturbing and annoying? Should I silently suffer and change the page. Basically, Facebook page is my virtual home, and I want to be comfortable there. So, do not feel any regret…

Two new studies from the University of Colorado in Denver performed through investigation on the psychology behind unfriending, as well as the emotional response of the unfriended. Both draw on a Twitter survey of 1,077 adults, so the selected group is quite limited in size.

The first, which probes the who and why of unfriending, found that acquaintances from high school are most likely to get the chop, followed by friends of friends, work friends, and common interest friends.

It appears former high school friends are unfriended more than any other group on Facebook, according to a recent study by Christopher Sibona, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Denver. For the study, Sibona separated Facebook friends into 15 distinct "types" -- neighbors, church friends, friends of friends, etc.

Here are the 16 categories:

1. High school friend

2. Friend of a friend

3. Colleague

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4. Common interests friend

5. College friend

6. Former romantic partner

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7. Internet friend

8. Family member

9. Church friend

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10. Grade school classmate

11. Friend through Spouse

12. Graduate schoolmate

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13. Friend through Child

14. Neighbor

15. Friend through Parent

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Christopher Sibona speculates in a press release that based on the research data we often wish to break online relationship with people who disagree with us about religion or politics.

While the majority of friends get flushed for the toxicity of their posts, it appeared that the colleagues are also in the group of risk.  "We found that people often unfriend co-workers for their actions in the real world rather than anything they post on Facebook," Sibona said.

The researchers use the euphemism “context collapse” to convey the loss of friendship. Study two examined the emotional fallout from context collapse as enacted over the social network and came up with four feelings: surprised, bothered, amused, and sad. As Science Daily explains, a quartet of factors determines how unhappy an Unfriended friend is likely to be at her demotion. If you two once shared a close bond, she’ll probably be upset and annoyed. If she monitors her Facebook friend list closely, that also enhances the likelihood she’ll suffer. On the other hand, talking about any relationship tensions before cutting the cord has a mitigating effect, and if the Unfriended seeks comfort from her remaining friends afterward, the study suggests she’ll feel better.

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