The Social Not Work

IMAGINED COMMUNITY
Your ex-friends grow weary of incessant links to your blog.

by Scott Daniel // October 8, 2010

It turns out that your fears are justified.  You’re not paranoid.  Your Facebook friend count is decreasing, and not through the random fluctuations allegedly driven by “algorithms” or some other made-up mathematical mythical jargon.  People don’t like you anymore.  Consequently, they have unfriended you.  This is not house cleaning or a seasonal friend purge.  This is personal.

Some smart people in Denver may have figured out why others find your online presence so noxious.  According to these smart people, you have likely been unfriended for one of the following three reasons:

  1. Frequent posts about boring anecdotes from your day and/or about topics that you, and you alone, find interesting (i.e., the 7th post in 4 hours about how stoked you are to see that awful hipster band at the Brooklyn warehouse party).
  2. Starting arguments about politics or religion, something the author of this post has never, ever, ever, ever, ever done, and he should probably keep never doing again.
  3. Inappropriate, crude or racist posts.

Social networks like Facebook were ostensibly created to bring people together; the information above suggests that they are driving us apart.  Technology isolates, as society/brain expert Malcolm Gladwell notes, and that even includes social media.  The instant feedback bunker of the Internet firewall creates the illusion that we can say whatever we want on Facebook with social impunity…

…or…

…maybe Facebook is doing some long-awaited filtering for us.  It’s hard to send bad friends to the waiver wire in real life (Life 1.0).  People have feelings, and we don’t want to hurt those feelings if we have to see, hear, or feel the emotional blowback.  So we hang on to these wretches, even if they hurt the team.  Unfriending and ignoring friend requests is simple and efficient.  The other person gets the hint, and you don’t have to deal with them.  Cold and calloused? Yes.  Efficient?  Double yes.

That may very well be true.  But be forewarned, whether you habitually post awful things or are a cold-hearted, sociopathic rogue who unfriends for pleasure.  Social networking is rapidly depleting the world’s supply of common courtesy.  When supply goes down, demand goes up, making respect the new currency of the social network.  That’s valuable social capital.  You’d do well to get in on the ground floor of this new stock: “courtesy”.  Buy low, then sell high.

Spare Change…

  • SPOILER ALERT.  I took a break from freelancing on Wednesday to catch The Social Network at the AMC Neshaminy 24. Believe me, the irony of seeing a movie titled The Social Network by myself is not lost on me.  At the beginning of the movie, Facebook ostensibly begins when its inebriated founder, Mark Zuckerberg, viciously libels an ex-girlfriend on his blog.  At the end, having burned bridges with his closest friends in his ascent to the top, he decides to add her as a Facebook friend, obsessively refreshing the page to see if she accepts.  Don’t ever put yourself in that situation.  Be nice the first time.
  • The New Oxford American Dictionary listed “unfriend” as its 2009 word of the year.  In fact, when I wrote this post, the WordPress spell check didn’t underline the word’s past tense, “unfriended”, but did underline “WordPress”.  I sense that my blog platform suffers from low self-esteem.

Add your two cents…

Sources: Lemondrop, University of Colorado-Denver, Avantage Partners, NFL.com, Reuters.  Photo courtesy of The Christian Science Monitor.  Copyright 2010, Scott Daniel.  All rights reserved.

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