I've been on Facebook since the first summer I was given a University address in 2004. Yep, back in ye olde days, you had to have that .edu email address to even register. It was a good time - perhaps the best of times. No thirteen-year-olds, no parents, and no big brands, just curious (and mostly horny) college students, your occasional faculty member, and lot of posts about our bad decisions from the night before. Okay, that last part hasn't really changed.
But since 2004, Facebook has made a lot of changes - most of them unpopular in the beginning. Remember when everyone bitched about the news feed when it first popped up? "What the hell is this bullsh*t? Writing on walls is good enough for me!" Through the various years, redesigns and new features have been unveiled, usually with the same response: Dear Facebook, we don't want all of this crap. You're all aware of this - Facebook is always adding things that people don't want (at least at first).
But there are also things that people have wanted Facebook to implement, for years - so much so that dozens of pages and groups have been created in their honor. Stuff like the oft-discussed "dislike button" or seeing who has looked at your profile have been demanded but never realized. Despite what some spam link offers, you're probably never going to be able to hit dislike on your obnoxious cousin's status. Sorry guys.
To a lesser degree, people have always wanted to be able to see when they are unfriended. Vindictiveness? Masochism? Who knows. Unfriending someone on Facebook is the ultimate in passive behavior, and the thought of catching the bastard, not letting them just unfriend you and skulk off must appeal to plenty of users.
As we all know, Facebook has not built this feature into the core experience. There's no native functionality, a tab or something, where users can go and see everyone who has unfriended them recently.
But with a couple of easy steps, any Facebook user can figure it out. Back in January, I told you about a script, compatible with multiple browsers, that adds an unfriend notification system to Facebook. It's called Unfriend Finder, and after telling you guys about it I installed it myself.
And today, a couple of months later, I'm removing it.
Let me be clear - this is not a knock on the extension at all. It works perfectly. Any time that someone unfriends me, I get a notification. Every time someone deactivates their account, I get a notification. If someone rejects my friend request, I get a notification. Everything works like a dream, and that's the problem. I'm pretty sure that I don't want to know the second someone unfriends me anymore.
Let me explain what happened to prompt this decision...
The sad march of rejection
Yesterday afternoon, I received a notification on my Unfriend Finder box. I clicked with little anticipation, mostly because I really don't give a damn if someone unfriends me on Facebook. Most of the time it's someone I a.) strongly dislike anyway or b.) haven't thought about in so long I forgot they even existed. Only this time, the name that I saw listed before the phrase "is no longer on your friendlist" troubled me. It actually hit me pretty hard.
So much so, that I thought it was probably a mistake. Maybe Unfriend Finder mislabeled the update. Maybe she deactivated her profile - she wouldn't just unfriend me. So I quickly searched for her name in Facebook's (crappy) search box. Nope, she was still there. Then I figured that she was probably just up to some Facebook-style spring cleaning - probably eliminating a lot of people. Once again, I was wrong. Dozens upon dozens of our mutual friends remained, a testament to all of the people that she for some reason still liked more than me.
At this point, I felt a small wave of sadness, followed by a larger wave of sadness because I was letting something as stupid as an unfriending on Facebook rile me. Let me repeat, I've axed and been axed by so many online friends, I couldn't even count if I wanted to. It was something about this one, however, that made me think.
This was a girl with whom I had shared a pretty close (100% platonic) relationship not too many years ago. Sure, lifestyle and location had weakened the friendship but we had never been on anything but good terms. Why would she unfriend me, and not my fiancé for example? I tried so hard to not give a sh*t like I'd not given a sh*t so many times in the past. But I couldn't shake it.
I'll save you the long version, and give you the movie trailer cut scenes version of the next few seconds:
- Why now?
- Oh, what did I say on here the other night?
- God, I'm a jerk
In a matter of seconds, I'd realized that I'd said something on Facebook that while totally innocent, must have deeply offended my now un-friend. It was the relative recency with which I'd been given the news of being unfriended. I could instantly figure out why, and it sucked.
And while it is not in my character to care about something like this, I must say, that night's beers were sad beers. Over a stupid, childish, insignificant little thing on stupid, childish, insignificant Facebook.
And that's why I'm getting rid of Unfriend Finder and I'm glad that Facebook doesn't tell me this stuff. First, because I didn't like feeling crappy and second, because I'm pissed off that something having to do with Facebook could actually make me feel that crappy.
Facebook just made masochism really tempting
While it's no real-time unfriend notification system, Facebook has just added a little more bait for those wanting to take a self-revelatory walk down memory lane.
Back in 2010, Facebook unveiled the option to download all your personal data. One little zip file that contains all the stuff you've shared on the network - including photos, wall posts, comments, messages, and even chat logs.
Now, Facebook includes a list of all of your friend requests. After a little digging, it wouldn't be hard to use that data to find all of the people who have rejected you throughout the years.
Facebook has been tied to any number of things - antisocial behavior, narcissism in teenagers, mood disorders, eating disorders & distorted body images, and even depression. Of course, most of this stuff is BS. Let's be honest, people are going to exhibit all of these things with or without Facebook. Sure, putting yourself out there online could exacerbate some of these things, but in the end do we really know which came first? The depression or the Facebooking?
All I know is that I'll be happy to go on blissfully ignorant regarding who thinks I'm enough of an a-hole to unfriend me.
Losing a friend in real life is one of the most devastating things that can happen to you - and this is true whether you lose them physically or emotionally. I'm not saying that losing a friend on Facebook comes anywhere close, but oftentimes it still feels like sh*t. And sometimes it's just better not to know.