Archives For Social Media

When to Defriend on Facebook

September 10, 2012 — 4 Comments

Two weeks ago I defriended someone on Facebook for the first time. That term “defriend” might need some parsing. It simply means to remove someone on Facebook from being your friend. At first I thought it was a hateful thing to do because it is like a passive-aggressive way at handling an issue. I mean the grown-up thing to do is to let someone know about the problem and talk about it. Yet, the problem with Facebook is that a person can be on your friends list and you really don’t even know them that well. I have 1,128 friends and I doubt I really know all of them. So there is this false sense of friendship that Facebook gives people which is really not acceptable terms of friendship. So defriending someone is not cruel but necessary in certain circumstances. I want to give some criteria for defriending people which I think is acceptable. Remember, this is my opinion so these may vary given certain contexts.

  • Defriending someone is acceptable if you never, ever talk to them. Let’s be honest, if you have been my friend on FB and I have yet to hear from you or talk to you then there is no real difference in me defriending you. You just won’t see me in your friend’s list. It’s ok to do this because we don’t talk anyways. Nothing changes.
  • Defriending someone is acceptable if they are posting vulgar content. This includes those nasty jokes, off the wall comments filled with expletives and unacceptable pictures. If there is content that I do not want to see then I do not have to see it. I could counsel them on their content but odds are, they really don’t care so why not save the hassle and defriend them. If they are really close to you then a simple message requesting they clean-up might not be that bad of a gesture but if you are not close to them then simply defriend them.
  • Defriending someone is acceptable if you are tired of seeing the endless political and religious posts that are pejorative, hateful and polarizing. As a citizen of this country I understand you have a right to an opinion but that does not mean you have to “saddle-up” and gather the troops and slam people on the “left or right” or people who believe differently than you do. Just because you have the right to an opinion does not mean you have the right to be a jerk (insert Chick-Fil-A posts here). If you have an issue with someone don’t post it on FB slamming people with your intellectual superiority. You will be defriended.
  • Defriending someone is acceptable if you are protecting your family. I have not had to do this but if there are suspicious people on your friend’s lists that you simply do not feel comfortable with (especially if you have photos of your family on FB) then defriend them. You are not placing judgment on them (since you are not posting about this) rather you are simply protecting your family.
  • Defriending someone is acceptable if you are tired of the one million requests for farmville or any other weird game request. What’s up with that? I get tired of getting on FB and seeing, “You have 18 new requests and they are poker, Farmville, alumni, on and on.” Please don’t annoy people with this.
  • Finally, defriending someone is acceptable if you simply do not want certain people seeing your private business. Facebook has made one’s private life very much in the public. I have had countless people come up to me and say, “Your kids on FB are cute,” or, “I saw some pictures from when you went to San Francisco and it looks like you had a good time.” Now that’s fine but there are certain people who just don’t need to see all of that information.

What other suggestions do you have?


Starting June 1st I decided that I would take a break from Facebook until August 1st so that I could devote more time to the ministry, to my family and to my God. I must say that I still have not done very well at all three but not checking Facebook all the time has helped. I will make a confession that I got on Facebook a couple of times because I had to send someone a Camp Staff Packet who does not check their email. But I did not browse nor check updates or messages. Just sent a message. Whew…I feel better after that!

When I first started with my Facebooklessness there were some mental challenges, nay devilish temptations, that I had to overcome:

  • What if I missed a ministry opportunity?
  • What if I missed some important information that came on?
  • What if a door was opened on Facebook and I miss it because of this “fast”?

On and on came the temptations and pretty soon I came to the conclusion that if something were important enough to occur on Facebook two things were bound to happen:

  1. Either God was going to reveal this door to me some other way (he can do that you know?) or,
  2. God was going to put someone else there instead of me to help that situation.

Either way I felt as if God was in control and that he either uses me or does not use me but either way he gets the glory.

As I am halfway through my journey I wanted to give you some lessons I have learned (am learning) about my facebooklessness:

  1. You don’t know how dependent you can be on something until it is taken away from you. Learning to do without is a lot harder and takes more self-control than having it all.
  2. I never realized how much Facebook was about gossip. In the conversations I have had with people I noticed there is the “Did you see what they had on Facebook?” It has been a real joy to be able to say, “No.”
  3. The world still goes on without my participation. I used to think I had to contribute to Facebook so that people who are (supposedly) interested in me could stay aware of my whereabouts, studies, pictures, etc. The fact is that out of my 1000+ friends only 10-15% probably look at my statuses. Score a 10-15% on a test and the teacher might consider you completely useless.
  4. I am not tempted as much. Please don’t read into this much but I am a male and part of my struggle is the opposite sex. Most guys appreciate the female anatomy and most (if they are honest) struggle when women wear revealing clothes or, as is the case with Facebook, little-to-no clothes. I don’t have to look at girls (sisters-in-Christ?) and their proud pictures of bikini’s as they pop-up on my news feed. I don’t have to get frustrated by that because I don’t see it at all.  It has been a blessing.
  5. Time has been diverted to what’s most important. I will say that I have spent hours more this month than last month with my kids. Why? Simple…time. I don’t look at my phone for updates, or messages or anything because it does not matter.

Facebook is not intrinsically evil but like many things can be used for both good and bad. Fasting may not be for you but I have really grown from it. I look forward to another Facebookless month. Try it.

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