Seven Reasons to Unfriend someone on Facebook.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jul 22, 2012
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Facebook in Real Life:

Trolling friends on Facebook Messenger:

Relephant bonus from Waylon Lewis:


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. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


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

  1. Starre Vartan says:

    I've unfriended a number of people on FB recently, and even some in real life. It actually feels amazing, and I am less stressed out! It's very much like dropping a bunch of stuff off at Goodwill/taking it to the dump/selling it on Craigslist. I'm practicing letting go of stuff including people who I don't mesh with, and life has definitely improved.

  2. SwamiMike says:

    Re. #2, specifically yours, your mom is a well known and active member of the Halifax Buddhist community, so of course people will want to help. What is the sangha for, if not this? As that horrible song states – That's what friends are for.
    I think part of taking care of someone is tapping into resources that are in place during times when one can't be physically present.

    Re. the Article in general, one bad reason for unfriending someone is if you are feeling insecure, and think the drama of unfriending someone will make them pay attention to you. Seriously, I bet that happens fairly often.
    A good reason for unfriending someone is if they're the type to do the above /\
    Also, I would be fine with defriending racists, homophobes and the like- though I haven't had to yet.

  3. jhepstein says:


    for me it's when people think my facebook status is their place to be hard. They reply to my posts trying to start a fight with my perspective. i'll try to give the benefit of the doubt for a second, but i can't really feed into that if they don't change their ways quickly.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Oh! On the last sentence, brilliant–of course. I'll add that in. I do think it is important not to unfriend folks simply because they disagree with us. Keeping our circles open beyond our "choir"—those who agree with us on everything—is vital to a healthy society and to our own sanity.

  5. tridentgirl says:

    Great post, thank you.

    I believe that most everything in my life is of my own making (an active choice if you will) and for many years I have actively worked to surround myself and build relationships with truly positive/loving friends and family. With that, I have definitely "unfriended" folks solely based on negative posts or derogatory posts or really fanatical posts. I choose love, I choose compassion, and I choose positivity, kindness, humor, integrity, laughter, joy, connection, and so on….even if it is “just” Facebook. No need for unwanted negative vibes to lurk in tiny nooks and crannies if I can help it and people who know me, know that I make no bones about it and I am protective (sometimes fiercely) of my personal wellbeing.

    On an even more personal side, this has come up in my day to day life with one of my closest and dearest most treasured friendships just in the past few weeks. I'm readying myself and her for a loving and candid conversation. (I'm also dreading it and a little fearful…deep breath in and out…)

  6. SwamiMike says:

    Absolutely. Cutting someone out just because they disagree with us is the response of ego. Or something.

  7. LynnBonelli says:

    I unfriended, and ultimately blocked, only one person. It became a huge ordeal which started with her accusing me of 'rubbing things in her face'. She felt that all of my posts were meant to make her feel bad…so, if I was camping with my boyfriend at the time (we are married now) she would email me and ask why she wasn't invited and then say I was only posting pictures to show her what she was missing out on. It was horrible. I felt so bad for her and had a sit down to talk to her face to face. My husband even spoke to her husband to make him aware of her strange behavior. I felt like I was being stalked. Needless to say, the facebook and real life friendship ended but I had to block her for my own peace of mind. BTW, I really did try to help her out but it just made the relationship more dangerous.

  8. John says:

    You are facebook friends with 5000 people? Hah that alone contradicts your article. Friending 5000 people is spamming all in itself.

  9. Mich says:

    I’ve two reasons to unfriend someone on FaceBook. The first is to preserve a real world friendship. Our mothers knew which of our friends we could play with for only a couple of hours before we’d fight. FaceBook can foster too much togetherness and cause real friends to overstep healthy boundaries. I have true friends that don’t agree with my politics and religious views; and it’s best that we don’t focus on those things. So, if I find that I’m continually upset by their online views, or I’m continually upsetting them with my online views, it’s time to discontinue the online connection and to save the real world friendship. The seconde reason is when I find myself being trolled by people who’ve asked to be my friend in the first place. This isn’t in response to the casual comment that they disagree with me, but rather to rude, aggressive, or disrespectful speech attacking my statements or positions on my own page. I don’t troll others, and If I cannot abide their statements on their own pages, I’ll quietly disappear from their friends list. Thanks for a thoughtful and helpful article.

  10. elephantjournal says:

    Respectfully, "John," you don't know me any more than I know you.

    I grew up in the Buddhist community, and met (and got to know) thousands there in Boulder, Karme Choling, Halifax, Shambhala Mountain Center. Many through intimate, powerful programs that were, by their nature, finite. Many of us stayed in touch.

    I've worked several jobs, of course, over my 38 years, never taking a vacation (until next week). I've stayed in touch.

    I went to college, and high school. Stayed in touch.

    I run, one of the bigger web sites in the US of A (not one of the biggest, though, yet). We have 100s of writers, editors, volunteers, partners, colleagues, advertisers, guests on my talk show, and staff over 10 years.

    I live in Boulder, a small city but big town and know just about everyone.

    As I said, I have a "waiting list" of 1000 folks, it's been maxed out for two years, of friend requests I haven't accepted because I'm not sure if I know them. Frustratingly, there's no way to mass-message them and politely refer them to the only option Facebook offers those who "know" "too many" people: my Fan Page.

    I don't want spammy relationships. Most of us don't. That's the point of this article, friend.

  11. Laura Miller says:

    One reason is if I realize that they 'collected' me through a recommendation or otherwise: someone would send me a request and I would take it naively, only to see that they had 2000 friends and only ever post about yoga classes they are having &c. and never 'like' or comment on anything I would do. I am not on fb to be someone's captive audience. So I got rid of those people and now only accept requests from people whom I know, if I don't know them if they send me a message telling me why they want to be my friend.

  12. Donna says:

    Does everyone know that you can just hide “feeds” so you don’t have to see their postings? But they don’t know you’ve done it so you can still keep them on your friends list. Works like a charm!

  13. Muks says:

    I unfriended a few people from my last job in a consultancy. These people were overdoing their "I am so smart and my life is so exciting". I noticed that I felt pressurised by their posts, thinking if my posts are interesting enough for them. As I did not plan to stay in contact with some of them, I let them go.

  14. mithras says:

    "Unfriending" seems like an undisguised act of aversion, Waylon.

    Someone pushes your buttons and you 'unfriend' them.

    Your ego gets offended over your Mum and there it is: aversion.

    When a junior monk was living with Ajahn Chah at Wat Pa Pong he was sent to pay respects to Ajahn Maha Boowa at Wat Pa Baan Taad. Ajahn Maha Boowa was known for being notoriously difficult and according to the junior monk treated the junior monk like "a feral dog."

    On returning to Wat Pa Pong, the monk went to see Ajahn Chah and spent about half-an-hour listing all of the perceived insults, indignities and humuiliations that Ajahn Maha Boowa had visited on him.

    When he had finished, Ajahn Chah looked at the senior monk and said, "He really knows how to teach you, doesn't he?"

  15. SwamiMike says:

    That is frightening.

  16. elephantjournal says:

    I agree. That's a key point.

    That's why I said, above

    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.

    We shouldn't just unfriend 'cause we're mad at someone. That creates more drama.

    We should only unfriend if the other consistently disappoints or creates drama.

  17. elephantjournal says:

    Yes. Key point. We need to relearn intelligent disagreement and dialogue without objectifying aggression.

  18. Kimberly says:

    I too have recently "cleaned up" my facebook. I removed people who dont filter into my mind on random occasions, people that I would never stop to have a cup of coffee with, people who dont know me (really know me). It felt great.

  19. elephantjournal says:

    One note, Mithras: there are Buddhist teachings around being careful who we associate with…I could source, don't remember. My momma would know..!

  20. jon holden says:

    I regularly clean house because it's too much noise otherwise. Less than 100 people seems to make me happier. My general rule is: if I can trust you with my kids, you can be your FB friend.

  21. AnneMarie says:

    I blocked someone recently because I believed he was trying to sabotage my job.

    I occasionally vent on social media about my job. Not smart, I know, but I thought I did so only to people I could trust (protected Twitter account, Facebook lists). But then someone started sending screenshots of my tweets to my boss. I got in trouble. I learned a lesson, but had only suspicions of who it might have been. Then, recently, I made a comment on a Facebook’s friend post, that, taken out of context, could sound like criticism of my employer. And someone sent a screenshot of just my comment to my boss. This time, although I didn’t have proof, it narrowed my suspicions down to one person.

    I knew this person for a couple years in college, and then we ended up years later working in the same town in similar jobs. We aren’t real-life friends, but neither do we have any reason to be enemies. So I don’t know why he would do it, other than to satisfy his ego somehow.

    I also unfriended (on Facebook and in real life) two people — a couple — whom I had thought of as my best friends for a time. Once I was comfortable enough in the friendship to express my own opinions, some of which differed from theirs, they started acting differently to me. Just out and out disrespectful. So this wasn’t a case, as noted above, of a passing defensiveness or anger on my part. It became continual anger and confusion over how they acted. I don’t regret ending the friendship. I don’t hate them, but I don’t miss what the friendship became, either.

    And then there was the other college friend who tried to argue with me that rape jokes were funny. ‘Nuff said.

  22. LUBER says:

    *Anyone that messages me with no content, purpose or question, instant ex-fb friend. "Hi" "Your yoga is nice" "You are pretty girl" "Namaste" If I don't know you, don't message me like we are bffs.

    *Constant violation of simple facebook etiquette rule number 1: Do not make my post about you.
    I post status update
    "San Francisco is so beautiful, I am grateful to be with my family"
    they post "Hey kasey, did you get the CD I sent you? I'm really enjoying playing my sitar."

    This one does not always make me unfriend but it drives me freaking nuts. If you are not able to attend an event, nobody cares. Examples:
    "Wish I could celebrate with you but I have previous plans that night to go to see xxx band at the xxx (popular venue)."
    "I'm nursing a bad ear infection and won't be able to make it."
    "My baby is pooping at 6:15"

    -Don't start a flipping conversation with your friends on one of my photos.

    Waylon, thanks for the post, I love it. I think i might write one on fb etiquette as I am thinking of many more. xo Dr. Lubeology

  23. mithras says:

    "Not to associate with the foolish, but to associate with the wise, and to honor those worthy of honor — this is the highest blessing" ~ Maha Mangala Sutta. (Sn. 2.4)

  24. mithras says:

    But also:

    "Should one find a man who points out faults and who reproves, let him follow such a wise and sagacious person as one would a guide to hidden treasure. It is always better, and never worse, to cultivate such an association." ~ Dhammapada 6.76

  25. realtortracy says:

    I tolerate a lot, but tolerating aggression and people's obsessive behavior is a complete waste of my energy. Life is too short to engage with that.
    I also avoid people whose primary purpose is to spam.
    There are many others who I choose not to delete, but who I use special settings for – I restrict their access and unsubscribe from their posts. That way there are no hard feelings, I get to keep in touch (selectively), but I don't have to be exposed to the embarrassing evidence that they spend the better part of every day on mind-numbing games or read their bizarre and personal diatribes directly to specific people that they choose to post as status updates or their exhausting angry opinions (to name a few).
    Taking this one step further (though in the other direction), I think it's a great idea to review our own pages. Among other advantages, it gives us a clearer picture of how we are representing ourselves.

  26. Sherry says:

    For #7 mine is this: If most of what you post starts to irritate me, then it's time for me to remove you. A difference of opinions is a healthy thing and can create understanding but if we're so different that I get irrationally angry every time you pop up in my feed then we're probably both better off with some unfriending. I did that recently to someone that I'd know offline all my life and though I felt bad about it, my feed is a happier place now.

  27. John says:

    The people who post nothing but Farmville and other game crap on my wall get unfriended quickly.

  28. I unfriend people who repeatedly POST-HIJACK my POSTS. A POST-HIJACKER is a person who constantly COMMENTS on your posts about stuff which is totally unrelated to the post itself. In addition, the comments tend to be nothing other than the person's desire to bring attention to themselves.

  29. elephantjournal says:

    Well, my baby was pooping at 615.

  30. Barbara says:

    I unfriended an old friend of mine last year. She is a working musician and lives on the east coast. She posted that she'd be in my area for a few weeks – she was 20 min from my home – but when I asked her about getting together she didn't even respond. OUCH. That's not a friend. She had posted once about unfriending someone who had posted some kind of marketing on her Wall but when I looked back at her postings, I realized that she was a Diva Musician and collecting 'friends' and marketing to them in her own way.

  31. nadisunshine says:

    oh gosh this is so true! what i like most and i find it kind of refreshing to see how people react when you explain them why you don't add them right from the start. like "oops, yeah right, we don't really know each other…" so what?! 😉

  32. Andy says:

    I had to unfriend Sorry! But dont' worry I still get your newsletter and check your RSS.

  33. […] He’s not the first or the last person to defriend me, but he was my very first public facebook defriendship. […]

  34. In a world that promotes consumerism and disposability, I see FB as one more front in this all too pervasive attitude. Like divorce or a paper cup, with one quick action, we can just toss out whatever does not suit us. Ode to the disposable interface of FB. Unfriending someone on FB is one thing, (and there are some reasons to do so), but blocking people is an entirely other action. Blocking someone is extreme and feels like an act of aggression in itself. Where is the middle path? Hiding a "feed" a someone suggested above seems more reasonable. I myself have never unfriended or blocked anyone on FB. If I put myself out there in the "cyber world", I have to take responsibility for this act. It is a public domain. And yes, safety issues are of concern, but we as humans can also project onto others our own stories for the sake of justifying our actions…or aversions. It is just all too common to dispose of what we don't want to face…and FB can be just another cyber version of this unsustainable attitude. I prefer reasonability and non-aversion. Just observe it and move on.

  35. Todd says:

    If the person has made it clear by their silence that they don't want to interact with you on FB OR in real life, unfriend them. Specifically, I'm talking about active FB users who ignore your personal messages and do not return phone calls. By unfriending these types, you're just doing for them what they are too much of a coward or too lazy to do themselves.

    If you cannot muster up the bare minimum in manners to acknowledge a FB friend's existence (either online or offline), why, other than numbers, accept them in the first place or keep them around? Imagine inviting people over for dinner and completely ignoring a handful of guests. People would think that rude in real life. Why is it acceptable on FB? It isn't for me.

  36. jameshjmes says:

    I have unfreinded everybody on Facebook just because I cannot stand Facebook but I like zynga poker 🙂

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  38. SB_Australia says:

    I tend to be the one being “unfriended” which I could take as an insult but realistically it’s only because I have strong opinions & I refuse to apologise for them. I’ve had a number of people unfriend me because of my pro same sex marriage stance. A few others unfriended me after seeing that I was a member of Athiest Foundation of Australia & felt that they couldn’t possibly remain fiends with someone who hated God so much (BTW, I don’t hate what I don’t believe in!)…I have also been unfriended by a woman who decided that I swear too much.

    My one & only block has been granted to a man who kept sending me photos of his penis & asking if I was single…

  39. John says:

    I unfriended someone once that was a conspiracy theorist spouting "facts" non-stop with the urgency of a priest.

    By the same token, I was unfriended once by an early childhood friend who apparently did not jibe well with my politics. He grew up to be pretty religious and conservative. So that I questioned organized religions, or no doubt posted an occasional controversial bit of news or piece of humor, probably got under his thin skin. Needless to say I was not too heartbroken, despite the history.

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  42. Facebook is so powerful so always beware of your friends and other activity in this social networking site. I think facebook can also be a great device for monitoring your site.

  43. Kate says:

    I have started maintaining a slimmer Facebook friend list by defriending people on their birthdays. It may sound crass but the birthday notification is a great reminder that you are friends with said person. Because most of my friends are personal and not professional, if I don’t even want to wish them a Facebook ‘Happy Birthday” (let alone call them or text them- c’mon, Facebook HBs are the lowliest) they get de-friended. If you have some set backs about this method- here’s one plus side- the recipient of your defriending is probably receiving so much positive energy on that day that they will never notice they’ve gotten the FB axe.

  44. LCR says:

    Yes! This is what I do! I have a couple of acquaintances who drive me a little crazy (in real life and online). We live in the same area, and have babies around the same age, so I run into them semi-frequently in real life, so online unfriending them may cause some awkwardness and tension that I don't care for. Hiding feeds is the best way to deal with this type of thing!

  45. mm658 says:

    I just unfriended someone last night for posting a story about how she killed a mouse with a shoe right in front of an 18 month old who was curious about the mouse. She even stated in her post that the child was traumatized, but there was no remorse. Angry? Yep. Sad? Yep. Friends? Not anymore. I posted a comment about how she has no more right to life than that mouse and unfriended her. I block most people who post things I don't want to see so I have the option of still checking in with them if I want. This time, I couldn't make myself care about someone seemingly proud of their blatantly horrific behavior.

  46. Barbara says:

    Unfriended family members after a serious dispute over care of my elderly mother. Mostly I did not want them to read how hurt and angry I was over their failure to see her loneliness.

  47. Jen says:

    I had to unfriend a guy who I found created a seperate group and then moved me into it. He called it L'Amour. I found it very creepy as I didn't really know him and I didn't appreciate being moved into a group that he invented without my approval. It was photos of girls he had "friended". I think it was his "wack" file, if you catch my drift.

    Blocked him also.

  48. Katherine says:

    I unfriend people I don't really have any reason to hang on to (or if they invite me to play candy crush over and over again and we really weren't that close to begin with).

    I just unfriended and blocked an ex because he kept trying to reminisce about our time together when I've moved on, and in with my new boyfriend. It was kind of getting in the way. It wasn't personal, but he'll likely take it that way. His threat of suicide was kind of the last straw. I alerted his mother via FB, then had to block him from my life. I can't take responsibility for his life anymore. it took too much of a toll on my life.