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The Etiquette of Deleting a Facebook Friend

To keep him or her as a friend, or to not keep him or her as a friend? That is the question many of us are plagued with periodically when we log into the little social networking site known as Facebook.

Perhaps the person in question popped up in your “friends” box as you viewed your own profile through, and it took you a few clicks and a moment to even remember who they were and how you knew them. Or, maybe it is someone you very much know, because every time you log in, 80 of their latest status “updates” are clogging your Newsfeed with self-promotion or annoying links you don’t care about (Facebook is not Twitter!). Perhaps it is an ex-boy or girlfriend. It could even be that you decided to be proactive and “spring clean” through your friends and you stumbled upon a questionable profile.

Nevertheless, what is the etiquette for deleting Facebook friends? This opinion may vary depending on your personality and how easy it is to let people and things go. Some people do not care what other people will think of them or really care about the people in question’s business and delete immediately with little contemplation. Others worry that deleting someone will have repercussions in the “real world” (i.e. they will run into the deleted individuals and be confronted about it). Some people would really like to delete some people, yet can’t bring themselves to give up the “inside scoop” they get from viewing the delete candidates’ profiles (you need to assure yourself that your ex-boyfriend is definitely not having a good time now that he isn’t with you!).

So what should you do when you find yourself in any of the described scenarios listed above, or perhaps others not covered? First of all, as you gaze contemplatively at the person in question’s profile, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I ever actually met this person?
  • Have I physically interacted with this person in the past year?
  •  Does this person’s personal life interest me?
  •  Do I want this person to know about my personal life?
  •  Is this person someone I expect to interact with from years to come?
  •  Do I currently hold a social obligation towards this person? (i.e. they are a family member, your girlfriend’s sister, a current coworker you interact with daily, etc)

If you answered “no” to more than two of these questions, you should seriously consider deleting them. If you are still unsure whether or not that would be a good idea, ask yourself one more question. What are the benefits you get from keeping this person as a Facebook friend? Would they be a strong networking source in the future? Do they help you feel closer to your past? Think long and hard whether or not this person’s Facebook friendship really holds any meaning to you.

So, you deleted that person (way to take control!) and feel comfortable with your decision. However, that person has now called you out on your action either by sending you a message, had the nerve to RE ADD you, or perhaps ran into you in the “real world” and boldly asked why you deleted them. What do you do? If they sent you a message, it is OK to ignore it. Don’t feel obligated to respond if you don’t want to. If you find that someone you deleted has instantly re-added you, try not to feel too guilty about clicking the “ignore request” button–but do ask yourself why this person feels it is necessary for your Facebook friends to continue, and can the ‘friendship” be mended on both ends? If you are confronted in the “real world” simply look them in the eye and say with a polite smile that you only use Facebook to keep in contact with close friends and family and you feel your relationship with this person has grown apart from that category. You don’t owe them any other explanation than that. Obviously, if you deleted them from your social networking account, you couldn’t have been very great friends pre-delete anyway.

Therefore, it can be daunting how to go about deleting certain “friends” you don’t think you want in your Facebook network. But, it is not as scary a task as it may seem. Once you get the hang of deleting people you no longer care about, it will get easier and easier, and therefore you will have much more Newsfeed space to start focusing on the friends you do care about!

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