Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Taking Names

It troubles me whenever I see a comment on Twitter or Facebook to the effect of “See who unfollowed/unfriended you!” with a link to some service or other that lets you find out which of your cyber-pals are now former cyber-pals. My question is:


Why do that? Is there a good, beneficial reason to locate this information? This is not a rhetorical question—if someone knows of a beneficial reason for tracking down this info, I’d like to hear it, because the main result I'd think would come from this detective work is hurt feelings—“Jennifer unfollowed me? She didn’t like my tweets? Well, FINE. I don’t like hers either.” (unfollows Jennifer). Okay, I guess a possible benefit could be if you are using the information to analyze and improve your updates/tweets—(“I see I lost 102 Utah-based followers when I dissed Jimmer. Oops. I won’t do that again.”). But do people really use the info that way? It seems that in most cases you wouldn’t have a clue why the person unfollowed (unless you know they’re mad at you in real life). 

It seems to me that social media networks should be places where connecting with someone doesn’t mean you’re locked in for life, and you should be able to quietly disconnect if, for whatever reason, the online connection doesn't work. I don’t go around unfollowing people right and left, but I have unfollowed people who tweeted so much that it drove me nuts, or bombarded me with ads. It was nothing personal—I just didn’t care for their tweeting style. If they don’t care for mine, they’re welcome to unfollow—no harm done. We should both be able to quietly and tactfully disconnect, no offense given or taken. What’s the benefit of tracking down each others’ names?

I think there’s a good reason Twitter, Facebook (and Goodreads, for that matter) don’t notify us when someone unfollows/unfriends us. I can’t see how it benefits us to seek out that information on our own. Granted, I'm no social media expert, so maybe there are angles I haven't considered. What are your thoughts on this? 


  1. I'm with you, Stephanie. I worked with someone for years who (I found out later) didn't like me. I'd never have known based upon our interaction. I only found out when a coworker who was moving on to another job came in to say goodbye and said "I really like you. I don't care what *** says." And he was serious.

    My feelings were hurt a little at first, but then I thought about it. This guy wasn't a friend. Our families didn't socialize away from work. If he managed to keep a totally professional persona on while we were at work, go him.

    It's just smoother when we don't know.

  2. I *think* there's actually a rule on Facebook that an app isn't supposed to tell you if someone unfriended you (also, they're not supposed to tell you who looked at your FB profile). So I think you're right; there's a reason they don't want people knowing that. They probably worry that if the wrong friend unfriends you, you'll leave the social network. Or, you know, do something a lot worse.

  3. I friended a couple of people that I didn't know, but who knew a friend of mine, so they could help me with Castle Age. I don't play it anymore, but I've left them in my list. I don't know why. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, I guess.

    If someone unfriended me, I'd rather not know. I play an online game where you can IGNORE someone such that you never see what they're chatting and they can't directly talk to you either. The game has a command so that you can see who is ignoring you. As you say, sometimes you know why. Sometimes, you're like, whatever!

  4. The only reasons I can think of is unsavoury content or uncertainty about someone you have befriended. The only person I have ever unfriended posted several really personal and embarrassing remarks about herself within minutes after I friended her. I really didn't want to hear about it! :)

  5. I totally agree-- little good and a heck of a lot of bad can come from knowing that information. I prefer not even having that number of how many followers/friends in my head at any time, so I won't even notice if it goes down. It's important to know how people react to what you write, but sometimes the unfriending / unfollowing has absolutely nothing to do with that.