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Bad Advice: Slaying Facebook Trolls

How to silence people who refuse to be defriended.

by
Hannah Sternberg

Bio

July 17, 2013 - 10:00 am

I don’t know about you, but I use Facebook to maintain a connection with people on the periphery of my life — people that I’d still like to be able to get in touch with, but with whom I don’t have a strong, deep, ongoing friendship with. Sure, I sometimes post on a good friend’s wall and often like my mom’s posts, but Facebook isn’t my primary means of staying in touch with them or the other people who are really important to me. I write to, or call, or spend time with, or even send letters in the mail to the people who are really important to me. In general, I keep a big list of friends on Facebook just so I can reach out to any one of them when the mood strikes me — not because I regularly want to keep up with any of them. What I’m getting at, is that for me to defriend someone, they have to be a really marginal figure in my life, because Facebook “friendship” doesn’t hold a lot of value for me in the first place.

So I’m going to assume that you, too, defriended people who had grown so far apart from you that it seemed silly to maintain even that much of a meaningless and effortless connection to them. Good for you. Not everyone you encounter in your life is going to be someone you want to maintain a connection with for the rest of your life, and acknowledging that also frees you up to dedicate more time and effort to the real and lasting relationships in your life — the ones that matter to you offline, too. Facebook friendship isn’t actually friendship, or a relationship of any kind — it’s a bookmark for a person in your life, reminding you, “Oh, if I go here, I can reconnect with Xena again. Cool. If I ever want to rekindle our friendship, I know where to find her.” Likewise, terminating a Facebook friendship (especially with someone you barely know or speak to) isn’t terminating a relationship, it’s just acknowledging what is probably already reality: that you barely know this person anymore, and don’t see yourself growing close to them again in the near future.

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That sounds like it could be pretty painful for someone to find out from a friend. But if the above situation is really the case, then the other person should have noticed you weren’t really friends anymore long before you terminated the Facebook connection. It’s not a personal attack (it doesn’t sound like you’re defriending people in anger or retribution, like an angsty teenager), though it might carry some of the bittersweetness of making you (and your former FB friend) realize how quickly time flies and how much people change. That’s natural. What’s not healthy is for that person to then throw a tantrum about it.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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All this person had to do was change the settings of these friends so they didn't crowd her news feed.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good point! I wanted to keep my advice today centered on the social and emotional aspects of this situation, rather than the technical details of how to hide someone on your news feed, because the core problem is that some people take Facebook "friendship" way too seriously, and it's good to know how to deal with them!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, about that. It wasn't really good advice. People deserve some sort of decency, and facebook friends are people. Treat them decently. Life is long, and the same people keep turning up, so you never know when that defriending with no explanation will come back to haunt you. Stay classy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
FB does not do a real good job of seeing to it that people know this, so it goes unnoticed by way too many people. One really has to do a lot of poking around in FB to see what all the options are & see how to get the most benefit from it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Really? I don't think so. Something as basic as what shows in your newsfeed isn't hard.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You can also prevent posts from some Facebook friends from appearing in your news feed. I've had to block some friends because their re-posting of political stuff (both right and left unfortunately) was so prolific that it got in the way of self-generated comments from other friends. Missed a potentially fun evening with a friend visiting from out-of-town because her few sentences of useful news got lost in a flood of useless images. Wish Facebook had the option to keep original content from everyone while blocking cases where friends are just repeating stuff from someone else.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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