When I first got onto Facebook in April of 2009, I accepted and sent friend requests to anyone and everyone. This wanton love for my fellow man ended up being a big mistake. Turns out, one should never friend certain people.
In March of the following year, I spent several hours defriending more than seventy people. Although the process of removing “undesirables” from my list of Facebook friends was enjoyable, the fall-out was intense. I learned that defriending is an extreme act. Unless you intend to sever all contact forever and ever amen, one should avoid it unless and until it becomes absolutely necessary.
Since the Great Defriending, I’ve tried to be a lot more selective about sending and accepting friend requests. Even so, some undesirables have slipped in. You think you know someone. Then you see all the crazy status updates and links they post to their Facebook page.
I’m sorely tempted to go on another defriending frenzy. I won’t, because the death threats and suicides have finally slowed to just a trickle. Like I said, people take defriending very seriously.
Since defriending is not a viable option, what does one do? Given recent changes on Facebook, I’m not sure. In the old days (like three months ago), you could hide the posts of any undesirables. Now I think you have to unsubscribe from their posts. I can’t tell if the other person would know or not, so I haven’t tried it.
There are some general precautions that might prevent you from needing to defriend someone. Before accepting or sending a friend request, visit the person’s wall and if possible, click on “info” to learn more about his or her likes and dislikes. Anything that causes you to react with “ew!”, “oh my God!”, or “puh-leeze!” is cause for keeping the offending individual off your friend list.
If you have access, check out the pictures–especially profile pictures. Rebel flags, raised middle fingers, and offensive religious or political comments are all warning signs. Other pictures that suggest this person is not desirable as a friend are sort of like pornography–I can’t tell you what they’ll be, but you’ll know them when you see them.
Unfortunately, some people restrict access to info and pictures to just their Facebook friends. By the time you see the offending information, it’s too late. At the risk of stereotyping, I would suggest there are certain groups one should never friend on Facebook.
- Anyone above you on the organizational chart where you work. While it’s tempting to friend your boss, the day will come when you do not want them to know you went shopping the day you called in sick. It’s also hard to maintain the appropriate level of respect when your boss posts pictures of themselves doing something ridiculous.
- Coworkers. This is a bit trickier. Having worked in the same office for more than a decade, some of my coworkers have become my friends. Otherwise, it’s easy to find out a lot more than you really cared to know. Finding out some things can be detrimental to your working relationship.
- Ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. This group is similar to #1 in that you might not want them to know you spent Sunday at a Super Bowl party instead of attending services. Unless you want to be the subject of a sermon, you probably don’t want them to know you got shit-faced with friends on Friday night.
- Teachers, professors, and personal trainers. Though I really like him, I don’t need my personal trainer to see pictures of me chowing down at the buffet or posts about skipping my workouts. Your teachers/professors might have a hard time accepting your excuse for being late with an assignment when they see all the pictures from the party you attended the night before on Facebook.
- Family members. I include this group only because defriending them is absolutely not an option. I’ve actually grown closer to some of my extended family through Facebook. But sometimes not.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to keep from defriending someone is to avoid sending or accepting friend requests in the first place. It’s a rule I live by here in…
My Glass House