When to Draw the Line

I had a really interesting conversation with a Facebook friend on Wednesday. It stemmed from this status update that I put up:

22 of my friends are subscribed to Ann Curry’s status updates which makes me want to unsubscribe from THEM. Like, in real life. #scrooge

I was joking (sort of) but it spawned a much deeper discussion about when to draw the line with friends and family, especially on Facebook and Twitter. Normally when you don’t like something someone says online, you can click the big red X and close the window. But that’s not possible when you’re linked through social media and blood.

someecards.com - Just an FYI that you made it through my spring cleaning of Facebook friends

For example, I recently unfriended someone on Facebook that continued to post incorrect, racist and inflammatory information about President Obama. It was the right decision — not because she disagreed with me politically, but because I could not live with myself if I saw that type of content from anyone and didn’t take a stand.

Had she just been going off about policy, we’d still be buddies. But attacking people on race, sexuality, religion, gender or anything else in that realm just steams me.

(In a move that I’m not proud of, I did tell her why I was unfriending her, and not in the nicest way. That led to a long list of hateful and mean things posted publicly about me that made me very glad I’d chosen to disengage with her…I just wish I’d been more diplomatic.)

So I’m curious — what makes you unfriend or unfollow, and how do you (if you do) let the person know that you need to cut ties? Have you had any uncomfortable or awkward experiences?

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  1. says

    I stop following people if all they do is complain. Seriously, I’m sure there are other people in worse situations than what they are going through and I don’t need that negativity in my life. I don’t usually unfriend people on FB because they are all people I know personally, but I do filter their status if they just get annoying. (I do think you did the right thing in your situation.) I had a very close HS friend unfriend me because I didn’t invite her to my wedding. We hadn’t talked in years and both moved on to different friends. I’m still bitter about that since I only found out through my friends who were still friends with her…

    • says

      I’m with you on the negativity thing. If your twitter feed is filled with complaints, that’s the quickest way to get me to unfollow. I tend to not unfriend people on fb though, just companies if they monopolize my feed with post after post…

  2. says

    I recently had to address this. Someone who I had been on FB with for about 3 years (former colleague) began making snide remarks on my status updates and even went so far as to correct my grammar in one update. It’s FB! It’s for my friends. It’s not a frickin news article and it’s not my blog — which I purposely spell and grammar check.

    For me FB is supposed to fun and friends. It didn’t take long for me to unfriend that person and I really don’t care at this point. I’m only thinking of it now b/c you bring it up here.

    Basically I don’t need that negativity in my life.

  3. says

    In the old FB I blocked rather than unfriended when political comments got too harsh–they got my blod boiling and I don’t need that added stress in my life. I haven’t totally un-friended anyone, but mst of my FB friends are long time friends IRL or bloggers whom I respect (even if our views differ).

  4. says

    I’ll unfollow/unsubscribe you if:
    1) like Holly said, your posts are overly negative ALL the time
    2) if you are seriously pimpin’ yourself out (one woman who kind of stalked me down on FB does NOTHING but promote her business, but not in a creative way – it’s nagging really). It’s one thing to share your blog posts – it’s another to TELL ME to come buy your product in every single status update.
    3) similarly to you, if your posts are in that vein of “incorrect, racist and inflammatory information”. Nothing drives me more bonkers than ignorance like that.

  5. says

    I stop following people when they are constantly posting dramatic statuses.. about how everyone is a “hater” .. or about how bad their life is.. all the things that go wrong.. etc, etc. If it gets to personal, I don’t want to read it every day. Those things are personal.. for a reason. Keep them to yourself.. and to conversations with those you are close to. It isn’t meant to share with 43721894 of your “closest friends”

    Another things that irks me.. is someone who posts every..little..thing they do.

    Just woke up!
    Sitting on the toilet.
    Brushing my teeth.
    Eating my breakfast.
    Driving to work.

    No thanks.

  6. says

    I love how you can now hide a person from your feed. Way back, you couldn’t do that! So back then, I unfriended someone who was a relative of an in-law. She updated her status constantly and it was related to some weird internet or such business she was trying to build. Filled my feed and drove me crazy. I never said anything when I unfriended her. Now I would just “hide” her. I’ve done that with many, many people so I can focus on those I really care to read about. Like my kids:) I have also accepted most friend requests from people I know, including my grade school bully! But, there are a few that I just have sitting there and have not yet accepted or ignored. I’m not one who things that more friends is better.

  7. says

    I’ve unfriended people for the exact same reason. That is a topic that really grinds my gears. I’m from an area in southeastern Virginia that has a lot of racist, confederacy loving, gun-toting people (the civil war was presented to me as “the war of northern aggression, I kid you not) and if I have to deal with that in my everyday life, I sure as hell dont want to read about it in social media that I choose to participate in.

    I’ve definitely read quite a few things that have made me like people a little less.

    I also hide or unfriend “woe is me” type of people. I get frustrated with those who dont appreciate the good in their lives.

  8. says

    I have unfriended people for constantly barraging me with game requests (and nothing else), who spout obnoxious untruths or who never post anything of interest to me. I know that sounds harsh, but time is an important commodity.

  9. says

    I was recently unfriended by a girl whose husband I had a crush on in 6th grade. Apparently that was enough for her… even though I stopped crushing on him in 7th grade when he lost his bowl cut and stopped looking like JTT.

    I normally unfriend people if I haven’t talked to them in a over a year… just like my closet, some people need to go to good will.

    It’ll take a lot for me to unfriend someone based on postings, I’ll normally ignore them. The exception is gay bashing or consistently quoting religion as an excuse to be an ass hole to certain people. Those are my break points.

  10. says

    Too much of anything is bad, even things that wouldn’t normally be bad. I un-friended one person who talked too much about their baby, and I did the same with another friend who talked too much about politics. Granted, these weren’t exactly my best friends, it caused them to not make the “spring cleaning” cut.

  11. says

    We all believe different things sure enough, but CONSTANTLY posting about how God doesn’t exist or CONSISTENTLY posting about how you wish Christmas had nothing to do with “Christ” and that you only want gifts usually gets me to say “Deuces”.

  12. says

    I don’t unfriend usually (only example is when someone hurt a friend pretty badly), I just hide it from my newsfeed. I expect other people to do the same to me. I mean, not everyone is going to like the same things I like. They don’t have to see my pictures of my niece or my quotes I post if they don’t want to.

    Reasons I will hide you from my newsfeed:

    1. Consistently posting controversial things, especially when you really have no leanings one way or another, just causing fb drama.

    2. Constant complaining, I don’t care if it is politics, your life, your job, whatever…I don’t need to see how ‘hard’ your life is and how you hate everything.

    3. Overt gushing. How ‘perfect’ your life is with your ‘wonderful’ husband and ‘beautiful’ child. Bitch please.

  13. says

    People who constantly curse up a storm. I’m a southern lady, and I think it’s improper to put the F word 6 times in your status.

    People who constantly have farmville or game updates get unfriended or I block the game content.

    People who pick unnecessary fights with me. “Really people, I was just telling a funny story, no need to attack me because I think it’s funny the UPS guy was scared of my 8 lb dogs in their Christmas sweaters. There is no need to get dramatic and say your husband is a UPS man and dog bites are not a funny matter.” ug.

  14. says

    Usually I un friend if people spout racist or generally ignorant stuff. Recently about the protests being pointless. Only if it’s constant though, I’ll let the odd thing go.

    I don’t unfriend people for being miserable all the time unless they have an excuse for every idea to make things better. If you won’t help yourself I’m not likely to want to help you really.

  15. says

    I’m not a huge FB user – my only friends are people I’ve known for a long time, and family. I don’t even friend people from work (my FB life is my private life!). But I’ve stopped following people on Twitter because they post random junk updates every 30 seconds. I’m not savvy with social media, I think I’m about 10 years too old for it, but I like to follow people on Twitter who share good info and neat ideas. Please don’t tell me your office mate has digestive issues!

  16. says

    I recently unfriended someone because they repeatedly posted hunting pictures-I’m pretty sure no one wants to see that. Also, I hadn’t spoken to them since 2005 so it was no big loss to my friends list.

  17. says

    The only serious drama I had in my life this year stemmed from this EXACT issue–twice. I unfriended someone because of Whit’s Reason 1. She was crowd sourcing political opinions and when I expressed my own opinion, which was opposite from those on the thread, I was attacked. So, defriend. That lead to several postings about me and even went to high school bullying levels of leaving meanie notes at my house.

    The other instance was the “instant commenter or me too-er” who makes every post on everyone’s page about her.
    Update: I’m having a good day.
    Reply: I’m not. poor me.

    That lead to a HUGE fight that leaked onto the blogosphere. I think the unsubscribe and hide tools are really helpful but it’s kind of interesting HOW upset people get when defriended or ignored. Both instances for me, the two woman had my personal contact information, why not just call? Social media I think has really blurred or redefined the lines of normal human interaction. We’re not in a relationship until it’s on FB. You’re not pregnant until it’s FB announced, etc. While the ability to hide and unsubscribe to people is great, the real issue is that maybe we all need a life offline?

  18. says

    1. Racist/Homophobic comments are an immediate unfriending (is that a word?)

    I am an activist and a lot of my usage of facebook is connecting with other activists throughout Central Florida, so a lot of my posts are political. During the 2008 election, those posts brought out the crazy and offensive in quite a few friends. Not pleasant. I am all for spirited debate but there is a line.

    2. Constantly posting pictures of yourself/kid/pet. For example, there is someone I work with who posts pictures of themselves regularly from the bathroom at work. Why?

    3. Status updates that are super personal all the time. Not the place for it,

    There are a few Tumblr blogs where people send in the constant offenders from Facebook. I do find it really entertaining the types of things people feel it’s ok to put out there.

  19. Liz says

    This is such a tough one (I totally agree with you about Ann Curry though.). I tend to hide people rather than de-friend them (which is kind of whimpy, I admit). Usually I do it when people make a habit of posting about political issues in what I consider to be an inflammatory way. I’ve also de-friended people who make negative comments about my job in response to my status updates. This is what I consider to be kind of frustrating about FB, I’d like to post about a variety of things but I am super-cautious about it because I’m always afraid of offending someone.

  20. says

    I know when it’s time to unfriend when I start asking myself “should I unfriend”

    I’ve unfriended for mostly the same reasons already posted. If you’re overly negative, don’t interact, or are derogatory to another person based on race, gender, religion, ect..

    I will also unfriend you if you are too sensitive. Some people are just looking for a reason to make a big deal out of the littlest thing.

  21. says

    If I go through the trouble of unfriending someone, it’s probably because they post ridiculous amounts of spam (Like “Click here for a free ipad2) or send me 1,000 farmville requests. haha overall, I don’t really have any fb or twitter peeps that post things that bother me from an ethical standpoint!

  22. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually unfriended someone before. I only add people in the first place on Facebook if I know them and even if they post dumb stuff sometimes I just ignore it. I have never had anyone post anything really harsh or racist, thank goodness! The worst I’ve had is politics I disagree with and I just ignore them. Although I have unfollowed people on Twitter who just post way too often. I can handle a few every now and then. But not 20 in 10 minutes.

  23. says

    I’m not on Facebook a lot – I use it more for my blog’s page than my personal page, but a few years ago I was de-friended over an admittedly immature interaction I had with a girl I knew from college. I have since de-friended a lot of people I haven’t spoken with since graduation (be it high school or college) simply because I don’t care to know what they’re doing with their lives and don’t want them to weigh in on mine. But for people who are really friends it seems like “de-friending” someone is a really harsh action and that is a commonly held belief among my friends. Basically (at least for us) it’s the adult version of saying “you’re not invited to my birthday party anymore!” and considered taboo if you want to preserve a real-life friendship with that person. I’m not suggesting that’s right because honestly it seems immature but that’s how we’ve always acted.

    My question has always been – what is the acceptable protocol for Twitter? I feel like for people you don’t know in real life it’s not an issue but for real life friends who you’d like to stop following (for whatever reason) it might be a little trickier? Or is it the same as Facebook?

  24. says

    I’ve only ever unfriended two people – husband and wife, as it happened, although I unfriended them several months apart. One for posting a viciously angry rant about abortion being murder, and the other for posting a vitriolic rant about homosexuality being a sin. I echo previous commenters when I say I appreciate not having such intense negativity in my life. It wasn’t just that we disagreed – I am still friends with quite a few conservatives on FB and twitter. But their loathing was deep and vocal, and I cannot abide by such hatred towards my loved ones.

  25. says

    I know this isn’t the answer, but I took a break from Facebook. I just decided that I wasn’t getting much out of it, personally. I loved it in college when I could see classmates, but now, I’m just not sure. I got tired of rolling my eyes at status updates and worrying about filtering myself. Obviously, a blog isn’t carefree, but I feel like I’m sharing on my own terms, and I like that!

  26. says

    I saw your update about Ann Curry, and honestly, I searched a bit to see if there was some new thing she did (before you then said it’s just her, nothing really new…) :)

    I have had to deal with this before, and was asked why I unfriended. I was honest in as nice an answer as I could give, that she was negative 99% of the time and it is just exhausting. When I realized I eye rolled at pretty much every status update, I just unfollowed: always complaining about a headache, a long week, everything (then sometimes with an “LOL” at the end, what??). We knew each other from college, and not very well, so I was surprised when she asked me why?

    I have another that I’d like to do the same thing, but we have close mutual friends and it’s not worth it for me to say something. Her thing is to have crazy dramatic updates that do not say anything! Then she will have several people ask what’s wrong, etcetera, and she never tells. GAAH. 😉

    Like you, if I ever saw anyone attacking race, sexuality, religion, etcetera, I would unfriend and tell them why. I have zero tolerance for that.

  27. says

    I’ve been there too!

    A guy I knew from college started with the inappropriate facebook posts about race, politics, immigration etc. I didn’t really know him so I unfriended him. When he tried to refriend(is that even a word) I blocked him. He was a casual acquaintance. But the worse part of it was that one of my sorority sisters went along with all the offensive things he posted. She even posted more of her own. I would tell her in the comments how offensive she was being but she didn’t care because it was her page. She messaged me to apologize after an intense back and forth between her, my sister and me, all on facebook. I stood my ground and told her she was being offensive. Then I simply hid her stream and put her in a list where she couldn’t see my posts.

    It’s all so ridiculous and one of the reason I dislike Facebook. But since I’m part of the social media world as a blogger I have to find a way to tolerate it.

  28. Alisha says

    I don’t know…I just found out that a former co-worker of mine (who posts constant controversial and liberal political rants) unfriended me because of a post I made regarding certain drivers in CA. A few of my friends laughed because they got the joke, but obviously it offended more than it was intended to. At first, I was upset because, hey? Who wants to offend anyone? I certainly didn’t want to on purpose. And um, hi? I’m a Black woman dating a half Palestinian-half White man (who jokes harder than I do). We all have our prejudices, but being racist to hurt others and discourage their progress personally and professionally ain’t on my to do list.

    BUT, I realize that there are a lot of people that are incredibly sensitive when it comes down to race/politics/religion and if he can’t handle a FB status, he really shouldn’t be hanging around me, my close friends, and my family. We’re all avid lovers of the show Family Guy and if you’ve ever watched it, you know they poke fun at everyone equally. Yeah. We’re THAT group of people with THAT type of humor!

  29. K says

    Wow all these people unfriending each other from Facebook because of too much of this or too much of that. Why are you even friends with these people in the first place? What is a friend? Sometimes a friend could be having a bad day or a good day and wants to share with their friends. Do you mean to tell me that everyone who posted a comment on here has never posted something negative or positive or sad or happy or posts pictures??………..reading all of these it sounds like everyone is going overboard on Facebook and unfriending each other and soon there won’t be anyone on Facebook anymore……….I personally can’t stand the people who post those little sayings in a box copied from somewhere else…….over and over like 20 or more a day………..I would rather someone actually take the time to type their status personally – I don’t unfriend them for that though. I do like to know what my friend’s are up and how they are doing. And if they are having a down day or a rough period, I can let them know I am there for them, isn’t that what it is all about? I personally love pictures of pets and babies, it makes me really happy to see someone else’s happiness, it is contagious. Sometimes people are negative and they have nobody in their life to talk to or vent to, I guess they put it on their own Facebook page for some validation or acknowledgment. It is true, you don’t have to deal with anything you don’t want to…..so just unfriend them………who really cares anyway.

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