Monday, August 12, 2013

Our Guide to Running into People You Unfriended on Facebook in Public

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that our Facebook friend lists are similar to our real life friend lists, in that they are both smaller and hopefully more meaningful than those kept by many of our peers. We are more than simply not impressed by your 1500+ “friend” list, we are in full-on “Really!?” mode. This is just another way that you’re doing it wrong (“it” being Facebook, but also probably life). Are you maintaining any sort of meaningful relationships with all of these people? Do you think that you could answer, “Who’s [NAME]?” to every single single entry if we went through your list?

We could go on and on, but we’re not here to rant or lecture today, we’re here to help. If you’re anything like us, you semi-annually have a Facebook purge (which should never be annoyingly advertised with a “If you’re still reading this, then I didn’t delete you!” post). To stay on our Facebook friend list, a person must be someone who:
A. Hasn’t completely fucked us over/broken our hearts
B. We would actually call a friend
C. We have seen in the past year and will likely see in the next year (mutual friends, co-workers, classmates, etc.)
D. We cannot delete because of obligations/guilt (childhood friends, weird family members, references, etc.)
E. Provides us with some form of entertainment (funny cat pictures, links to thought-provoking articles, general ineptitude, etc.)

Rarely is the deletion a malicious act. Time goes by. We change schools, jobs, locations, and group affiliations, and we cannot keep up all of the relationships we begin during all these different periods of our lives. Life goes on and we gotta clean that shit up. However, it’s inevitable that you will, at some point in your life, run into an ex-Facebook friend. This can be a difficult situation for both parties, the unfriender and the unfriendee, especially when each of them almost always knows who did what.

Oh God, I wish this wasn’t happening

Last weekend, Anya went out with the Libertarian to the local breakfast joint/drug den and was OF COURSE seated next to a booth full of people we went to high school with, the makeup of which ranged from ex-lover to vague enemy. After the typical “how long can I go pretending that I haven’t noticed you sitting there?” she and Paul’s ex-lover feigned surprise and greeting at the same time. Now, obviously the dynamics here are many and varied, but the real fuckup here was that Anya mentioned to one girl at the table how much she enjoys seeing her dog pictures on Facebook (this was genuine, but also a good indicator of how swimmingly that conversation was going).

Fine, the dog is not quite this adorable.

Having unfriended at least two other people at the table in the name of Why Should I Give You A Window Into My Life You Creepass, this probably wasn’t the best thing she could have said. Learn from her mistakes, and adopt one of the following techniques to deal with the icy silence or hurt confrontations from those you thought you had left behind.

Option A: Lie, lie, lie some more
Coming in very low on the maturity scale is our first option, just lie about it. This works especially well for people who are technologically incompetent and/or prone to believing things like “if babies are born underwater they have gills”. When confronted about your sudden disappearance from their Newsfeed feel free to say anything ranging from “Oh my gosh, it’s so weird, I think Facebook just deleted a bunch of my friends for no reason!” to “Yeah, I’ve been trying to rebuild my friend list since my Facebook was hacked.” (Also can be used to explain your Spotify boy band fetish) You’ll both feel pretty bad afterwards, but it’s better than admitting “I don’t wish ill upon you, I just literally couldn’t care less about your crappy job/sad engagement/Tumblr reposts/life.”

Option B: Completely awkward and inappropriate avoidance
Anya opted for this, the middle of the road on the maturity scale. This maneuver is only good for encounters that you know for a fact will be brief and situations where you have an obvious and readily available escape route. It’s very simple: avoid eye contact, talk about very generic topics with anyone in the group that’s not them (the weather! your pancakes! that unfortunate looking baby your mutual ex friend just had!), and then flee as quickly as possible. If you’re good at this sort of thing, definitely do the all encompassing smile greet so they can’t say you completely ignored them, because you were addressing the whole group with your concerns about the state of the five year class reunion plans (namely, that it’s happening). Hit it and quit it, rip it off like a band-aid, etc.

Option C: Be an adult and pretend like it never happened (ideal)
This is how we deal with the people in our lives who have fallen out of favor or are on the shit list: we suck it up and have a civil conversation with them. In order to apply Option C, we need to believe that the person we’ve unfortunately encountered has the good sense to join us in ignoring the fact that we don’t care for each other and just focus on getting all of our humblebrags in before we are able to go our separate ways in the elevator/on the street corner/down the hallway. In this case, you will need to rush in and get busy catching up before they have time to bring up the fact that you must not care that much about what they’re doing since you UNFRIENDED THEM like six months ago.

Hannah’s “friend” on her recently published memoir: “It just really poured out of me!”

Good luck!


  1. How about saying "I just really don't like you." It's honest.

    1. To a coworker or worse to a boss?? No way

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