If You Unfriend Someone on Facebook, They May Just Avoid You in Real Life

    February 4, 2013
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

For a good percentage of people, being unfriended on Facebook is a huge slap in the face. So much, in fact, that they would actively avoid running into the unfriender in real life.

Then again, who decided that Facebook interactions don’t count as “real life?”

The study comes from The University of Colorado Dever and Computer Science and Information Systems doctoral student Christopher Sibona. He conducted a survey via Twitter and found that 40% of people would avoid contact in real life (out in the world, not behind the computer) with anyone who happened to unfriend them on Facebook.

50% said that they wouldn’t go out of their way to avoid outside contact, and 10% said that they might.

According to the study, women were more likely to want to avoid IRL contact with people who unfriended them.

The study also looked at motivating factors behind the act of avoidance.

“The number one predictor was whether the person who said the relationship was over talked about it to someone else,” Sibona said. “Talking to someone is a public declaration that the friendship is over.”

This isn’t the first study on “unfriending” authored by Sibona. In 2010, he found that the most common reasons that people get unfriended involve problematic posts. This includes boring life updates (just made a sandwich!), polarizing political posts, and remarks that could be viewed as sexist or racist.

“Since it’s done online there is an air of unreality to it but in fact there are real life consequences,” said Sibona. “We are still trying to come to grips as a society on how to handle elements of social media. The etiquette is different and often quite stark.”

News flash: Facebook is a part of the “real world” and your actions have consequences. Unfriending a person on Facebook gives the impression that you no longer care about what goes on in their life, or at least you don’t care to hear about it. Why should a person who’s received such a blast want to hang out with you in person?

[University of Colorado Denver via CNET]
  • Quinn

    I can’t think of how anyone would know. If/when people unfriend me, I don’t get a notification or anything, so I wouldn’t know if they did. And I don’t remember seeing the friend count anymore, so they must have removed it.

  • http://www.officekitten.co.uk Office Kitten

    I’m with Quinn here – if you have 200+ friends you’d have to be ridiculously pedantic to notice someone unfriend you. Either that or the other person would have to make a big scene of it, which does happen a lot on Facebook! Interesting article indeed, though; it’s fun to see the crossover of social media into real life.

  • Jane

    I was recently unfriended. I only noticed because it was someone I interacted with regularly. When I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks, I went to his profile only to see he’d unfriended me. Funny, because I considered him a friend in person as well. Meh, his loss.