• Handling Breakups

‘Unfriend’: Not a simple verb by any means

Published: November 18, 2009 | Last Updated: June 5, 2024 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading

The New Oxford American Dictionary chose the verb “unfriend” as its 2009 Word of the Year (WOTY) and defined it this way: “to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.” The word “has both currency and potential longevity,” explained Christine Lindberg, Oxford’s senior lexicographer.

The choice of this year’s word is telling because the act of unfriending (or defriending) is part of the pruning process of maintaining a presence on social media, like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. It’s easy to collect more friends than you want or need, including many contacts that may turn out not to be “friends” by any reasonable definition of the word.

Fortunately, if someone posts too often, bores you, lurks without posting, has questionable politics or ethics, says something caustic or insensitive, acts unpredictably, or even uses too many exclamation points, it’s relatively easy to get rid of them electronically—with no more than a few keystrokes.

But dumping a true friend-online or off-isn’t as easy because it raises the risk of collateral damage. When two people are really “friends,” they’re likely to have numerous connections. They may have common friends, live in the same neighborhood, share a workplace or livelihood, belong to the same community or organizations, or have exchanged information (including secrets and confidences) with one another.

So a word of caution: Even though a new verb has entered the common parlance, think twice before you unfriend. Doing it carries some of the same risks of dumping someone offline

 

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Several months ago, an old high school “friend”, sent a request, so I accepted. Brief background, we were best friends freshman and sophomore year. However, she moved out of town, so transferred by junior year. She used to get me in trouble when we hung out ie: lie to her parents, l took the bait, would lie to my parents. After being caught, my mom did not want me to be friends with her anymore. Being a rebellious 15 year old, I did not care and told my mom we would always be friends. Well, I did not know this at the time, but the clique we hung out with, did not like her. They did not really know me, but we would hang out at lunch and breaks. By junior year, I became closer to the clique. Started branching out and hanging out all the time. To this day, I am best friends with one of the girls. Ironically, we started talking about high school, she remembered former bff, and said they did not trust her. Since they did not really know me, I was guilty by association. Interesting to hear 20 years later. Anyway, my former bff, lived in the college dorms. We decided to get beer. However, it was against the rules. Well, somehow, the resident advisors caught wind, found beer bottles. Two days later, she was kicked out of the dorm. She was in serious trouble, told her mother everything, was told not to be friends with me any more. Ironic! Well, we went our separate ways. I relocated, got married. She would call my mother, try to get in contact. We emailed a few times, but did not meet up. Fast forward to now, I tried to send her a message, and noticed she “unfriended” me. Initially I was shocked. I was thrown under the bus. Realistically, our friendship died years ago. We live totally different lives. Will I ever speak or write to her again? Probably not. The “unfriend” was a major dealbreaker. I know its electronic, but to be blindsided like that? Honestly, probably for the better. I talked to my mother about this, she said just leave it alone. Who knows what she would try to do to get me in trouble. At the time, in early high school years, the friendship was great. Now, if I met her today, unlikely to be friends. Actually, she did me a huge favor. I wish her well in life.

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