Seven Reasons to Unfriend someone on Facebook.

Via on Jul 22, 2012

Learning to say “no” can be as powerful and positive as saying “yes.” Letting go isn’t loss. It’s allowing room for new.

Relephant Bonus: Online Loneliness: “This Video Will Have You Completely Rethink How You Conduct Yourself Online And In Person (Video)”

I give a lot of talks on how to do social media right. I gave one two days ago, as part of the Unreasonable Climax. In it I emphasized that, really, even when you’re swimming in a digital world, we need to (try to) comport ourselves in a personal, grounded manner.

If we’re real online, it’s good for our relationships and business. If we’re spammy, we’ll accomplish the opposite of what we’re going for.

Click Image: Dave Taylor.

Relephant Deep Reading: Buddhism vs. Speed: Busyness is Laziness, by Dr. Reggie Ray.

Letting go or moving on can be hard to do.

But it can be a real message, both to your once-friend and to your own sense of fear or attachment.

I unfriend folks with some regularity—not because I dislike them, but rather because I’ve been stuck at FB’s rather arbitrary Friend limit of 5,000 for five years and need to make room for new friends or colleagues. So I’ve been forced to be selective.

And so, rather accidentally, I’ve discovered the virtues of raising my bar for friendship—whether virtual or otherwise.

Note: unfriending someone doesn’t mean they can’t message you. You can still be in touch. And usually, depending on your settings, they’ll still be able to view your public posts on your Wall. So you’re not absolutely parting ways with them—it’s not a big deal.


Seven reasons to show Facebook “friends” the virtual door:

1. Wall Spam. I unfriended a wacky mentor of many in the [ X ] community because he never related to me personally, but just posted promotional petitions, links, and diatribes, on my Wall. When he did message me, it was usually for a good cause, but again in a somewhat off-his-kilter manner.

Question: is your “friend” posting stuff on your Wall to you…or trying to reach or advertise beyond you, to your friends? If they’re just trying to “promote,” they’re treating you like a distribution outlet, not a human manner.

Note: that doesn’t mean folks, including you, can’t share links and petitions that you genuinely like, with those you genuinely like. Keep it personal.

2. Jerky Condescension: I just unfriended a senior Buddhist (who’s appeared on my talk show, and does great work in his field) for acting like a…how do I put this politely?…dick. Posting in a public group, he started rather passive-aggressively guilt-tripping me about not helping out my mom, though I (as I’m not going to litigate in a public group) help her out a ton (and gladly—I owe her everything I am). I’d just posted to fellow Buddhists, asking if someone might be inspired to drop a few old DVDs off with her, since she’d recently fallen off a bus and couldn’t get around, and was laid up for a week—last time I was up there I gave her my MacBook Pro (because it had a DVD drive) so she could skype me/see my photos Facebook/be in touch with everybody/watch movies (she doesn’t have cable, or wifi). Interesting Update: I think I violated the Bonus, below, unfriending out of feeling offended. The gentleman messaged me and, as I suspected, had some personal story about his mother that meant a lot to him, just wanted to be sure I paid attention to my mother, and lectured me a bit about taking a vacation (the first of my life) when I could be helping my mother in person. I reminded him that he didn’t need to remind me to help my mother—I love to do so and owe her big-time and, while I wasn’t going to explain what I do for her out of defensiveness, I care for her.

3. Friends, exes, ex-friends, colleagues who don’t reply. If you find yourself on a one-way street of communication, just let go. Letting go isn’t less: it’s creating space in your life for new. Let go.

4. Folks who message you too much. If they’re crazy, don’t just unfriend them: block them. Stalking includes cyber-stalking. Take it seriously. Less is more, when it comes to crazy.

5. If you don’t know the person, and aren’t connected to them through work, or some at least vaguely meaningful way. My friend request queue is also maxed out—mostly with folks I’m not sure I know. I try and only accept friend requests with, or make friend requests of, those I have some real or meaningfully virtual connection to.

6. If they’re whacky. Even if they’re less than crazy—if they communicate aggressively, or strangely, if they leave five comments on each of your posts…gone.

7. What else? Give me a few other (good) reasons you’ve unfriended someone.

Bonus: one reason not to unfriend someone. If you’re having a moment of defensiveness, or anger…let it pass. If, when you’ve calmed down, you still feel like they may not be a helpful presence in your life…let them go.



Or you could just bail on everyone all together and join the social media site that isn’t stealing all of your information:


10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Have Unfriended me on Facebook.

Please Don’t Envy Me: The Facebook Status Everyone Should Read.

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | | | | | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom


121 Responses to “Seven Reasons to Unfriend someone on Facebook.”

  1. @trekmonk says:

    Nose poking relatives!

  2. Banu says:

    Crazy. I JUST wrote this post on my Facebook page and saw this on my newsfeed. Here is what I posted:

    Banu Sekendur
    22 minutes ago
    Yesterday I went through my Facebook “Friends” list and removed 200 people. I am making this post public so you can see my reasons. If you have noticed my absence, searched for my name and see “Add Friend” on top, you are one of the 200 people and you deserve to know my reasons. I have changed my Facebook friending philosophy and choose to add and keep friends according to that.

    1) We met once maybe 5-8 years ago and never interacted since then. We don’t really know each other.

    2) You keep coming at me with criticism or you are in a constant disagreement with me (probably with others too or you just can’t stand me). Then why be interested in seeing what I post other than looking for a reason to unload your personal frustrations?

    3) You have sent me unfriendly emails.

    4) I see that our philosophy in life and what we care about in life are SOO different that we probably wouldn’t have a conversation if we ran into each other even if we lived on the same block.

    5) I feel low vibration energy from you and unfortunately I can feel it in my body and know who it is coming from. You might guess that I don’t enjoy it.

    6) You rarely ever use Facebook, so what’s the point?

    7) You use Facebook but probably removed me from your newsfeed so you never engage with me and haven’t in years. So why stay?

    8) You are one of those people who get on Facebook and view it as a paparazzi show. My life is not a TV show to watch. I prefer to engage instead.

    9) You belong to my “past life” and I have cut ties with you anyway so what’s the point? I have moved on and so have you.

    10) You created a fake account to spy on me even though I have denied your friendship request.

    11) I choose to share myself openly. And I simply don’t feel 100% safe with you being part of my life that way.

    12) We never email, text or call. So we are not really friends.

    Thanks for reading. I truly wish you all well in your life. Go and rock the planet!

    • Shannon says:

      4, 7, and 12 really hit home for me. Thank you for the comment. :)

    • Grace says:

      I love these 12….

      But I would also add a 13…

      Those who would be trying to exit the “friendzone” by either belittling my partner or my choice in said partner, or otherwise disrespect my relationship by attempting to get me to date you when I’m actually Happy and Content with said partner. Unfriended. Friends are for support and encouragement. If someone offers a valid point of, I care about you and I feel your partner is unhealthy because…. (state your case, then drop it) and add afterward that you will support them no matter what they decide. All about respect.

  3. Enchanted Seashells says:

    I have unfriended someone because they supported a hunting organization and I'm anti-hunting. I'll unfriend someone if they keep sending annoying posts to vote for them for a contest or game or blog status. I feel as if I'm being used only as a "notch" on the belt, and I'm expected to work for them. And I've unfriended those who keep sending sponsored posts about products and want me to click on it so they make a couple of pennies. I don't appreciate being used in this way. This was a great article!

  4. SingingRae says:

    Nice post – I actually have a tradition where every year around my birthday, I reevaluate my friends list and do a large unfriending. I find that that helps me keep emotions like hurt or anger out of it, but it allows me to release ties to people whose presence in my life is no longer serving me. I am about to embark of my fourth year of doing this and I love how it helps me feel lighter and freer as I enter a new year of my life.

  5. crimsonowl says:

    I recently unfriended someone after a strange event. Our university was in the news over an issue involving a sorority, and the faculty wrote a letter to the University president about it, in which they kept referring to the sorority members as "Greek women." I posted on FB that it was disappointing and surprising that an international faculty would use an inappropriate term, since the women are not Greek and were not born in Greece, they are members of a sorority. This person just kept hammering away at me, and I never really got her point, but I kept telling her that she was missing mine, and it was simply my opinion. She kept telling me how many people join sororities, what they do on campus, etc, etc and I'd say yes, but the FACULTY used inappropriate language, especially with so many cultural studies profs who would never use that term, and that was my point. Her new husband then had to weigh in and I felt like I was tag teamed. Finally I just told her that none of her arguments were even relevant to my point and that's when she responded with something very personal and offensive. She told me I should base my research on something other than how many Greek boyfriends I had while in college. ( I dated a man who was born in Greece for a time). That's when I told her that her comment was cheap and offensive, and she knows very well that I have a MA in Comm with an emphasis in international communications and cultural affairs and since she was a graduate of the same program, she surely knows how we studied this topic specifically in a specific class! It was very offensive to make that kind of cheap comment on a FB post, knowing that anyone could see it. She replied that I was the one who was getting personal, so I waited 24 hours for an apology that never came and then unfriended her. I thought she WAS a good friend – the couple had been to our house many times. Normally I would say a good friendship can get past something like this but she didn't seem to even want to try. Maybe there really is something to it that people are just meaner on FB. I don't regret unfriending her.

  6. MestUp says:

    I should unfriend a guy I am still in love with. I am married. I have gotten to the confirmation pop-up box a couple times…

  7. Gruntcandy says:

    Interesting article and comments overall. I’ve taken a different approach to many of my friends who post offensive political and religious material. I keep it there to juxtapose all the “yes men” I normally associate and agree with. I think it’s healthy to keep the opposing views around for sanity checking. I admit it makes my blood boil at times but I also choose to ignore this posts on occasion and not read them at all.

    The obvious unfriending I’ve done recently is for friends who’ve passed away. I don’t like the birthday reminders for dead people, nor do I appreciate posts to their walls from their other friends who haven’t let go yet.

  8. teresa mupas says:

    Un-friend if you or the other aren't ever going to use your Facebook friendship or whatever other kind of relationship to enhance your non-virtual one. You're just going to passively check out my photos and not say hello or even greet me on my Facebook-notified birthday? Un-friended. #beruthless

  9. Becky says:

    I unfriend someone when I feel they aren’t genuine, if they are a crazy ex or if they are just plain insane. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of cyber stalkers that live in my city, who I barely know but feel the need to try to tear me down due to jealousy or boredom in their own lives. It’s sad when people feel the need to do this.

    Great article :)

  10. anonymous says:

    I just unfriended about 100 people recently. If I don't want to share who I AM with them, for whatever reason, namely because I don't know them, then they're gone. I don't understand the need to "up" your friend count. I would rather be myself and communicate with those that I know/like. I unfriended one person because they kept friending my friends and relatives — weirdo!

    • anonymous says:

      Also….great article! And….did you re-friend the critic who judged your relationship with your mother?

  11. trixie says:

    I have a policy about unfriending people for not taking the time to use punctuation. I don't care if it's a pain to use punctuation with an iPhone. Maybe that's a sign that you should spend time trying to participate in facebook activities.

  12. Kim Willis says:

    I have unfriended when someone demonstrates racist or misogynist views. I also unfriended someone who became threatening over a post I made he didn’t like. I have also unfriended people who began bullying other friends on politically charged threads.

  13. mardeeknits says:

    My test for whether a person should be my "friend" on Facebook is whether they are providing a meaningful positive influence on my life. If I've known them in person, it's a fairly high threshold of forgiveness but I've unfriended people for posting things that are blatantly racist or hateful. (Everyone is entitled to their political beliefs and they can be different than mine, so long as they are respectful). Some I simply hide because their posts are full of negativity and I don't need that lingering in my brain. One of the odd things of social media is that I have so many people "telling" me about every minor nuisance, annoyance or inconvenience in their lives – including a lot of things they wouldn't bother to mention if I saw them in person. Before I post, I always ask myself, "Is this helpful?" and I often self-censor because I don't feel that I need to exert a negative influence on the day of others who might be reading my post in their feed.

  14. Erin says:

    I use my filters. No one knows what the others are seeing and I get to live in a quieter world.

    No harm, no foul.

  15. barefootbellringer says:

    I provide support to a community that is only able to meet twice a month. If I notice a great deal of drama coming from one or more members of the community, I will pm them, and if it continues, I will unfriend them. There are times when I want to leave FB, but then I realise there are people with whom I could not connect, without FB. Twice a year I go through my friends list and unfriend anyone I haven't have a conversation or interaction with. Most of the time they don't notice, but every now and then I get a friend request…again.

  16. Karen says:

    Waylon, I agree with most of your post, but I don't get you airing your private grievance, complete with enough detail that if he should read it, the "senior Buddhist" will know it is he you are talking about, on here. It seems pretty passive aggressive and goes contrary to Buddhist teachings of right speech, at least in my book. You could have said you deleted someone who you did not see eye to eye with without sharing specific details.

  17. I unfriended (and blocked) a friend from childhood because the only time he would EVER comment on anything of mine would be to argue (not debate) with me over religious/political differences. Now, I have a very "golden rule" attitude which I know not everyone follows so I let it go for a while even though I wouldn't post on his polar opposite and equally offending postings. But when it got to the point where he would name call, curse and ONLY post to agitate me, that's when I unfriended him. And I would have left it at that but heaven forbid we have mutual friends that I might share an opinion with. He made sure to try and drop his condescending remarks on those posts as well.

  18. anonymous says:

    I have unfriended 2 girls that are sisters and both of them are constantly posting photos of their yoga poses or hair styles and their vanity. I just pick up on me! me! me! Or these cryptic messages they type which I call “ask me about ME” posts. I actually feel low self-esteem when I see people bragging so much about their perfect lives, their beautiful meals, their vacations. I don’t need to feel that way so I just unfriend them.

  19. Isabella says:

    I have read quite a few of your posts and find them either based on nothing, or like this one, passive aggressive. I'm not sure what "brand" of buddhism you follow but it really isn't the one I recognise. Good luck with your path to true compassion and realisation.

  20. istopforsuffering says:

    Personally – if they don't bring anything to my life, if their posts are always negative and self-pitying, then they get unfriended. I did this just yesterday – I unfriended her in real life too. I was giving 150% of myself every single day, and getting nothing in return. Eventually something had to give :)

  21. john says:

    telling them to fuck off , works to

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  23. Fred says:

    I just killed Facebook entirely from my life. An old acquaintance started hos intellectual military rant against my one simple statement, his brother and others joined in as if this were an invitation to debate and attempt to make me feel inferior rather than just say thank you for your opinion and let it go at that. Who knodws who else he will tell this whole thing to online. Facebook is a load of crap and unfriending people one at a time doesn't work. Stay off of Facebook and stop letting people define who you are and what you are without your permission, just to make themselves feel better and superior. to others without taking responsibility as willow joines says. I did not need Facebook for 50 years, I surely do not need it now. The internet can be a wonderful thing and a mean bullying thing at the same time, a wall of shame for all to see while they hide behind their device at the same time. It has no class or compassion or morals, it's just there. So screw them and all who abuse people with it.

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  25. Sab G says:

    I unfriended and blocked a very close friend (and 2 common FB friends) to save our friendship. I am very selective on sending/accepting friend requests and have less than 100 FB friends. I am a relatively active FB user, usually careful in what I share on my FB page in terms of sensitive issues and mindful of not to offend friends. I do not believe in "unfriending", even those with whom I disagree on almost everything. For the most part, I believe friends should have an understanding to agree to disagree. This particular close friend, who never shares anything on her page or participates on my page, was offended by the political posts I "liked" and the comments I made on other friends' posts. She confronted me by phone/text over the issue. We have strong opposite opinions on the subject and agreed in the past not to bring it up/fight over it. Since I was not convinced by her arguments this time (and vice versa) and only felt like she was spying on my FB activity, I decided, after long deliberation, to break our Facebook friendship to save our off-line friendship. This happened yesterday, and I haven't spoken to her yet. I don't know if she discovered that she can no longer see my posts, but hope I made the right choice and she will understand the reasons for my decision. (The other 2 people I blocked are less close with me, but very close with my friend. I felt they had to go because I simply felt that FB would not contribute to improving any of the mutual relationships. They also mostly lurk, but never participate on FB)

  26. Apam999Merlo says:

    I'm having some trouble deciding…. I live far away constantly moving form place to place… this from the age of 11 I'm now 24… this of course has led me to have many many friends, and over time maturing and ending of such relations… recently to have a professional network and expose myself as all my colleagues and friends who are in the same field do we must use facebook, but some times the lines get blurred and even in work situations we have to be selective of our support team whether professional or personal. I guess it is a matter of selecting carefully. The other thing I'm confused about is…. is it ok to un freind some one because they assumed your post was about them and took it personal? It is a friend unrelated to work but apparently they felt shamed for liking technology for me tryung to promote a petition I highly believe is so important in my community and mentioned to please do better and leave the phone and distractions for a minute and thing of the consequences of not doing anything regarding that issue… was I wrong? I don't think so it is my facebook and as Paulo Coelho wisely says to not assume anything.

  27. Sherrin Fitzer says:

    What if someone calls you an arrogant c***? Reason enough? What if they apologize?

  28. McKenna says:

    If they submit lewd photos, disrespect women, do or reference drugs.

  29. michey says:

    An ex who changed his mind constantly & has been inconsistent in acting on how he expressed he felt about me. Facebook can be a scapegoat for people too cowardly to take right steps towards what they want with someone. "Popping in" to learn everything that person's been up to, maybe even when the other women he's dating aren't boosting his ego enough (and probably to make sure I'm still single), doesn't fly with me; I've expressed it, and won't be accepting another re-friend request. Get a clue.

    Tough love, baby. Tough love.

  30. kerry says:

    I unfriended someone who decided to date not just one of my ex's but two… even after I told her after the first time, that hearing about it through the gossip mill was hurtful and actually dating someone's ex is kind of a betrayal and not very kind behavior. So, she decided to do it yet again. The first time I forgave her, the second time, I sent her a very clear message telling her she was not my friend and voila! Unfriended literally and figuratively!

  31. Kate says:

    I’ve unfriended a woman who several times posted anti-Muslim memes and commentary. Her “liking” all the ongoing, horrifyingly bigoted comments just backed up her belief system for me although ALL her other postings were of tiny, cute animals. ALL of them. I’ve no room for a racist, no matter how cute the animals were.

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  33. Mia says:

    A lover and I consciously parted facebook ways when we decided we would make our relationship "open". she couldn't deal with the possibility of seeing a picture posted or a comment made from anyone who might be another lover. She found a loophole to look at my facebook anyway. The "opening" of our relationship was her idea. I eventually blocked her from Facebook to make our twice a week

  34. David says:

    I have unfriended a couple people when they ignored my messages. These were old friends who I hadn’t seen in along time and got along well with. I usually give them a shout out and suggest that we get together to catch up some time outside of fb. I can see they see that they have read my message (with the check mark) but they never reply, not even with a short hello. I’ll usually give it a couple weeks or longer. The message I get (especially when I see them making multiple posts, comments elsewhere) is that they can’t be bothered or don’t care. So, I really don’t want to be friends (virtual or real) with people like that.

  35. Concerned says:

    I am considering unfriending work colleagues because I don't want them knowing about my social life. For a long while I made it a personal policy not to add work colleagues as friends because I believe it is best to keep work and social life separate. But after one colleague persuaded me to add them I found it difficult in my own mind to justify not adding others or accepting their friend requests so now I have quite a lot of work colleagues on fb. This makes me feel uncomfortable as I have broken my own rule and I am quite a private person who struggles with the whole concept of fb in many ways and I don't like going to work and feeling that colleagues may be judging me because of posts on my facebook.

    • SupportYou says:

      Try to search for all your work colleagues and block them out first, so that they could not send you friend requests.

  36. Katherine says:

    I had to go through an unfortunate round of un-friending when the IRL gossip channel outside of FB was getting littered with misrepresentations of my FB posts. I kept finding myself saying, “how do they know that?” regarding friends not on FB. In order to root out the gossiper, I randomly removed probably more than a few people who didn’t deserve it. Nonetheless, my faith in humans and their ability to be loyal friends is shattered.

    I no longer post anything personal on FB as a result.

  37. Deanna Graves says:

    I'd add, "If it makes you sad to read their posts." I have a friend I was once very close to. Over the years she has drifted away and realizing I only find out about her life is via Facebook just made me sad.

  38. magentasmusings says:

    I unfriended someone I knew from my childhood because whenever she got drunk she would send me diatribes about how crap our childhood was.

  39. AKP says:

    There's no need to unfriend if it means it will ruin some business relationships or if you have mutual friends and will see them in the near future. There are features on Fb that allow for people to be excluded from seeing your posts and even some photos like mobile uploads and things you upload to your timeline. You can even put them on a Restricted list disallowing them from viewing anything but technically they are still your friend. I find that feature makes my life easier as opposed to seeing them and hearing, "Why'd you delete me?"

  40. adrianresajones says:

    There are a few things that you can do without unfriending people, assuming that, like most of us, you don't have 5000 friends. You can unfollow them so that you don't have to read their kooky posts. You can turn off the feature that allows people to post on your wall and you can make sure that they don't see your posts by using the appropriate settings.

    One could look at facebook as a place to practice loving kindness…

    Someone with 5000 friends could turn their personal facebook page into a "page" and create a smaller, private personal facebook page for real friends.

  41. Instantkarma says:

    I unfriended my toxic sister in law after years of knowing her “real life” and watching the fiction version play out on her FB. For months I read status of her pointing the fingers at anyone and everyone she could knowing the truth that she was causing her own drama most of the time, and feeding on the negative and sympathetic comments on these posts. I’ve been married to my husband for almost 2 Decades and she never, ever contributed to our lives in a positive manner, her and her abusive husband did purchase some things for us and our kids over 15 years but usually

    Just to brag about it or remind us of it often. She became so enraged that she put 100% effort in to making my life hell. I had to see her for my father in laws funeral, and I am

    At peace and actually proud that I unfriended her, because her real life behavior reflected all of what I was trying to remove from my life. although I will

    Miss my neices and nephew who are teens now who have been completely brain washed, I look at my own two beautiful teen daughters and I am positive I have done the right thing.

  42. John says:

    I find it poor that this article is headlined "7 Reasons to Unfriend Someone on Facebook" and the 7th reason is "give me more suggestions.

    That means it's 6 reasons, buddy. 6 reasons plus a request for the crowd to do the rest of your work for you.

  43. Cori says:

    I have been thinking about unfriending my stepmom. My dad passed away rather unexpectedly last Thanksgiving. She began dating in February, and has moved in with a new man. They often proclaim their love to each other on Facebook. Although, I do want her to be happy, I am still deeply greiving. I asked her if she could be more discreet for a while longer, for my family’s sake, and out of respect for my father. I recieved no response. Should I just unfriend her?

  44. Snad says:

    If they post really bad jokes that border on or jump stupidly over the racist line.
    If everything they post pisses you off, even mildly.
    If they have no fucking sense of humor whatsoever and take the piss out of your sarcastic or subtly humorous posts because of it.

  45. benaourine says:

    simple et comprehensive

  46. Sam says:

    Unfriended my friend (ex) a little while after we broke up. Not because we couldn't talk to eachother anymore or anything but because her digital presense when online made the moving on part after the break-up harder for me.

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