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A Guide for Facebook Etiquette: The Awkward Unfriending

Do you remember the good old days? Do you remember the friendships you had before the juggernaut of social media? Come on, it wasn’t that long go, a different decade, sure, but the same millennium. Facebook only launched in February, 2004. Pre-Facebook, if a friend annoyed you with their endless chatter, gossip and updates (Oh my… God, can you believe Jane and Tom are dating?) you simply didn’t pick up the phone when they called.

No biggie, right? However, if so-and-so stole your teal with chrome custom Kitchen-Aid, that was something else; if you found out they stole your super-secret lemon-bar recipe and shared it with everyone on Saturday night when you weren’t there, well, you unfriended them for life. Dignity, grace and etiquette were out the window. You ignored them, talked trash about them and banished them from your circle of friends.

Things are different now.

Champagne to All My Real Friends, Real Pain to all My Sham Friends

With so much friending, liking and posting, chances are your Facebook portfolio has swollen to epic proportions. The friends are not really friends, but more like self-perpetuating weeds; Eventually, you’ll need to do some gardening. In the end, you never know who is going to turn out to be a hacker. While Facebook has privacy guidelines and safeguards, a lot of your personal information is still accessible. When you visit Lifelock on Facebook, you can learn more about identify theft and how it applies to your social-media account.

With This Many Facebook Friends, Someone is Bound to get Hurt

In the Facebook universe, being unfriended is like being slapped across the face, Victorian style, with a pair of gloves. Honestly, it might sting a bit if you’re the one being unfriended, aka slapped, but the person doing it isn’t even getting their hands dirty. They’re clicking a button on a computer. If you have 2.1 million friends on Facebook, is unfriending someone or being unfriended really the end of the world? With this many friends, someone is bound to get cyber-slapped once in a while.

Restrictions and Hiding Friends

While your Facebook sham friends are easy to erase, what about those peripheral people in your life? What do you do about your boss, who’s not really a friend, or that nice woman who cuts your hair but also wants to be BFFs?

There are a couple of options:

A.) You can friend these people, then hide their posts from your news feed.

B.) You can hide your post from these friends by putting them on a restricted list, in which they will only see your public info.

Choice B is better. These people are part of your public sector (not your private), so access to public information seems fair. Of course, there’s a third choice, and that’s to consider what you would do if you were still living in a world before social media. Chances are you’re not going to friend a boss who just denied you a raise.

Finally, if you’re feeling guilty about unfriending someone you have been close to for 20 years, just remember they stole your Kitchen-Aid and probably still have it.


Pete Phelps Pete writes about the entertainment scene on the West Coast. As an LA native, he’s equally frustrated with and thrilled by the growth he sees in LA.