A friend of mine – we’ll call her Liz — recently responded to a Facebook.com invite I sent her over a year ago. Why did it take her so long? I have no idea. Some people have an aversion to social networking and refuse to do it until – suddenly and seemingly out of the blue – they decide they love it. Maybe everyone over 21 responds this way?

I am devoted to my online networks – on Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. I use them to get answers. I use them to stay in touch with hundreds of people I know from my past, from vacations, or that I’ve met online. I use them to find work and find people to do work for me. I even use them to flirt with my husband. It beats any other method of networking I’ve ever used, especially since I am really bad at golf. Sure, it’s not a replacement for getting together with friends. But lots of other things aren’t that – showers, tuna sandwiches, chocolate — and no one shuns those things for it.

Like so many before her, my friend instantly found friends she hadn’t seen in ages and quickly became enthralled. Caught up in enthusiasm for her new toy, she used Facebook’s Friend Finder, which can find people in your email address book to friend. If you give it permission, it will send invites to everyone in your address book. (Personally, I consider the latter spam and don’t do it but there are a lot of people in my address book.) Unfortunately Liz wasn’t paying much attention when she did this. “It commandeered my hotmail account,” she e-wailed. “Before I knew what I was clicking on, it invited everyone — the owner of my company, my boss, and my mother!”

Oops!

I think this is funny. (I laughed back in email; that was not well received.) Okay, so this does come up a lot. People ask me about social networking etiquette all the time. What do you do if someone you would rather forget sends you a friend invite? What if you friend someone and they start stalking you? Or, in this case, “Can I unfriend my boss? My mother? I joined a group where the members get pretty outrageous. Now I’m waiting for one of them to say something crazy only to find out that my boss is lurking.”

Here’s the answer:

You don’t have to go to any party you don’t want to go to. You don’t have to have friends who aren’t really your friends in your Facebook. It’s up to you. Feel free to unfriend anyone you want. And choose “Ignore” if you get an invite from someone you don’t want to let in. If the person you ditch has lots of friends, they will probably never notice you aren’t one of them. If you are their only friend, you may have some ‘splainin to do. But, in that case, maybe this is something they need to hear? As for unfriending Mom? I doubt you would be the first.

Just go to your friends list and search for the person you want to ditch. Then click on the little x to the right of their name. You will get this message:


Click “Remove friend” and You will no longer see that person’s status updates. They will no longer see yours. They won’t be able to poke you or send you messages or any of the things friends can do. And they won’t be alerted to this fact unless they try to send you a message. If they aren’t stalking you –and aren’t your husband – they will probably never notice you ditched them. Anything you said to them in the past will still be there. Want her back? Just invite her again. This really isn’t a big deal.

Getting rid of that person in real life? That one I can’t help you with.

[The names and some of the details in this story have been changed to protect the (ditched) friends of the innocent.]

3 thoughts on “Can I Ditch My Friends?”

  1. Thanks for the social networking advice/wake-up-call. Everyone needs a little dose of common sense and you have just provided it to us.

  2. Apparently Burger King is running a promotion where you get a free Whopper if you de-friend ten of your Facebook pals. The application is called “Whopper Sacrifice” and it doesn’t just delete your friends. They’ll also be notified you’ve ditched them for the Whopper. Crazy!

  3. Perfect timing on this post for me! I just had the need today to try to figure out how to ‘unfriend’ someone.

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