who do we unfriend?…

Note: After a long hiatus (blame it on personal schedule conflicts, but more so my HP laptop which is still in the HP Customer Centre after more than three months!!!, sadly), I am now at a borrowed computer “publishing” the last draft I wrote before my laptop issues arose. I am really disappointed with HP. Maybe I should just get a Mac. Anyway…that might yet be another blog by an aggrieved customer….. Also, please note, the following is a tongue-in-cheek response to an article I read, so please don’t get up in arms with me, ok? :p

The New Oxford American Dictionary, named “unfriend” — as in deleting someone as a friend on a social network such as Facebook — its word of the year on Monday, [16th November 2009]. Oxford University Press USA, in a blog post, said “unfriend,” a verb, had bested netbook, sexting, paywall, birther and death panel for the honor.

It’s scary that “unfriend” gets to be word of the year, even if it were in a virtual context. It just speaks to the type of friendships online. I guess we can join a community of people with shared interests and have some meaningful and warm conversations even. But I’m not sure if it constitutes a real friendship without personal interaction. Virtual is too easy. Too clinical. Chats can be easily edited.

I think the acid test is when it crosses to the real world where words once out, can’t be edited. Where annoying habits and behaviour are exposed. Where things are just messier.

I heard over the air recently, of people who just keep “adding” friends. No reason. No need. There’s not even much contact, even virtually. Why? How does that constitute friend?! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ It is not a friend, someone you can “unfriend”, just by deleting a name.

Oxford dictionary defines friend as “a person with whom one has a mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relationships”. Dictionary.com speaks of “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”.

There are some you are friends with, in both virtual and real worlds. Do we “unfriend” in the virtual world those we know in real life as well? We couldn’t possibly unfriend someone in the virtual world and yet be friends in the real world, can we?

I think it’s too easy in the virtual world to befriend someone. It doesn’t take any effort except to add a “friend”. The rest of it is adding cursory remarks on your wall for others to keep abreast of your life and follow updates. Sometimes someone writes on your wall and you respond. Most times, it’s just that – an update. I am thinking that if it’s someone you can “unfriend” so easily, then perhaps they were not friends in the first place.

On the flip side, if we took “unfriend” into the real world, it would seem so primary school. So I guess friendships in the real world is not as indiscriminate. You can’t possibly be friends to all, can you?

There is a person I used to interact with, who thinks you can. Just be inclusive and rotate lunch sessions with all in the organisation and they are all friends! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ He is sadly misguided. Thankfully though or there’ll be lots of “unfriending” to do.

So if we took friendships the good ol’ fashion way, at what point, can we “unfriend” anyone.

To me, it’s when a friend betrays another. For whatever reason including ideologically and emotionally.

What about socially? Can we accept that a friend can befriend someone who has betrayed us? There’s nothing wrong with a casual “hi” and “bye” and occasional catch ups or “no-choice-have-to-interact-at-work” interactions.

But sleeping with the “enemy” literally ๐Ÿ™‚ and figuratively, might not be kosher. I don’t have to explain the “sleeping” in the literal sense ๐Ÿ˜€ But figuratively, I guess any interaction on a deeper level might be awkward. That to me, is when we have crossed the line and made an emotional connection.

Someone I know said, “We can’t choose our colleagues [or family], but we can choose our friends”. So the more fool we, who do not choose well.

I guess the virtual world does not have categories of friendships. You either are friend or not. It’s too difficult to have BFFs, BF, Friend, Lesser Friends, Lesser Mortals, Mere Mortals, Not Mortals, Mortal Enemies… hahaha… it will be anarchy displaying these sub-categories in plain view of all “friends”.

Regardless, my point is we can, in the real world, demarcate good friends, casual friends, friends of a season, fair weather friends, so we should choose well. “Unfriending” in the real world is messy business.


8 thoughts on “who do we unfriend?…”

  1. I have a HP story to add to yours. A sad story of outsourcing gone so wrong it was hilarious. I called their contact centre and explained that I misplaced my power supply cable and needed to purchase a new one. The agent insisted that I had to provide him with a “part number” before he could help me. I provided the model number of the notebook and even the voltage and power rating of the notebook but he said that was not good enough. He asked me to look at the label on my power supply adapter…..duh….. He then gave me a number to call, so that they could provide me with a part number and with that part number, I should call him back so he could check if the part was available……..I gave up and got the power supply cable through my own sources. Goes to show that when you a desparate enough, you get creative.

    I digress. I once accidentally unfriended someone on FB. It is a complicated story which I blamed on a miscommunication. The truth is that I am an idiot when it comes to FB. I used to be able to do 2 things on facebook….post pictures and accept friends. I have since learned something new…how to unfriend. Like they say….live and learn ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. hahaha… ya these things are always funny on hindsight. i really think all these helpdesks are meant to stumble rather than service us.

      anyway, my issue is still unsolved. they wiped out not only memory from my laptop, but ALL mine literally!! all my travel photos including family hols eg my dad’s80th birthday celebration in LKG, irreplaceable … ALL wiped out. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ don’t buy HP i was told, the after-sales service sucks. the guy who’s handling this told me he would call back within the week, but it’s now more than a month!!!! i think i might have to escalate this and i truly detest doing that. sigh…

      but i digress too….

      ouch!… your unfortunate unfriended friend… must have been some miscomm. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ well at least you came out of it wiser… now you know how to unfriend! :p

  2. I didn’t know you will be informed that you had been ‘unfriended’ on a wall in FB! But then I have not been there for ages and I think some people have long ago not sent me any friendly notices ๐Ÿ™‚ Good for them and me I think. It lets us both rest.

    No I am not friends anymore with that person who had unfriended me:) I dont think she has many friends to begin ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. no lah… it doesn’t come up as a notification to you but on your friend’s activity wall. that’s another story in itself, this “accidental” unfriending. ๐Ÿ™‚

      i’m glad your unfriending is permanent though.

  3. I had been unfriend-ed once a long time ago – crossed out from an address book and even told of the fact to my face. I was rather surprised that this seeming friend who had unfriend-ed me was actually at that moment confiding some emotional and rather teary story to me. I was not really upset to have been unfriend-ed by this person so I guess I was not really a friend in the first place…maybe. Real world crisis of friendships, as you say, are very messy although and no clicking of any button would make it better.

    1. Ouch!…

      I am guessing, sadly, this person is insecure, emotionally unstable, egoistic and lonely. How do you cross out (in old-world ways :p ) a name from an address book (as good as “unfriending”) and still take that person into your confidence?

      Er…. are you still “friends” whether in the virtual space or in the real world?

      I was accidentally “unfriended” once by a novice fb user. It was not intentional but nevertheless, you sitll kinda wince, when you see the notice on the wall.


  4. Couldn’t agree more. I often wonder what people get out of adding complete strangers to friend lists on social networking sites – its not like a pretend friend circle raises you up in the world. And now, this addition of ‘unfriend’ to the wordlist has to be the last straw. If only managing relationships was as simple as the click of a button.

    Lovely post!

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