• Keeping Friends

Online friending and defriending patterns

Published: September 12, 2007 | Last Updated: March 26, 2016 By | Reply Continue Reading

Having a hard time time cutting off a toxic friendship? Social networks not only make it easier to collect “friends,” they make “defriending” a breeze because it just takes one simple stroke of the keyboard.

In the real world, according to an article in UK Times Online, most people have about five close friends and an extended network of 150 people who they consider more distant acquaintances. (That number is based on a study conducted in the 1990s at Liverpool University in northwest England.) In cyberspace, users of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have about the same number of close friends but often collect huge numbers of virtual friends, a phenomenon dubbed “MySpace whoring.” When numbers get that large, the ties become more tenuous.

Speaking to the British Association Festival of Science at York University Dr. Will Reader of Sheffield Hallam University points out that social networks make it easy to friend and defriend. If someone is annoying or isn’t behaving acceptably, you can simply take them off your list of friends.

“Normally a friendship will fade out,” says Dr. Reader. “You gradually lose contact. On these sites you remove them. It’s a type of spring clean and the other persons know they’ve been removed,” adds Reader.

Given the pervasive myth of BFF, seems like it is never easy to end a friendship even if you have a button to help do the job.

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