The Hiders v/s The Unfrienders

unfriendhide

I love Facebook. I truly do. And I feel like I use Facebook for good much more than for evil. I update my friends and family on our lives, I share things that interest me, I build community, I interact with friends. I truly do think that Facebook improves my life and my relationships.

Therefore, I take Facebook very seriously.

I’ve noticed a few comments lately in conversations with friends and family about how different people use Facebook and I made a huge discovery. Not everyone Facebooks (Facebook is a verb too!) the way I do. As a matter of fact, some people are offended by the way I Facebook. This made me dig even more because you all know – there is nothing I hate more than hurting someone’s feelings – especially unintentionally. So commenced a day of Learning How Others Use Facebook.

It seems like there are two general camps people fall into, with some waivering in an in-between area. The Hiders and The Unfrienders.

The Hiders

The Hiders simply take any FB friend who posts anything annoying and hides them from their feed. This may be Candy Crush Saga updates or it may be political rants. Either way? If it irritates the user? They simply hide them. These people tend to get offended if someone unfriends them, they tend to think: Why didn’t they just hide me? That hurts my feelings!

The Unfrienders

The Unfrienders tolerate the casual annoyances – maybe things like gaming updates or mild political links – but if someone steps over a user-defined line? They’ll be unfriended. Not hidden…UNFRIENDED. These people don’t really keep up with unfriendings, but if they notice someone has unfriended them, they don’t get offended. Because they’ve done it too.

Because I’m a sensitive person who gets my feelings hurt easily and who worries about hurting the feelings of others, you would totally think I’m a Hider. BUT I AM NOT. And until yesterday, I didn’t realize there were people who looked at it differently. I have never hidden anyone. NEVER! If I can’t tolerate their postings for reasons I discuss later, then I unfriend them. And it’s not like just unfriend everyone different from me. I tolerate a lot of postings on Facebook that I don’t agree with. I don’t ever respond, I usually just chalk it up to this person’s difference of opinion. There are times when postings can get a bit harsh and I think about unfriending someone, but I save it as a last resort.

When Facebook went from being a “blogger” thing to being a “real” world thing I cleaned out my FB friends and deleted anyone I didn’t know in the real world. (Or at least know REALLY WELL in the blogger world.) This was because if someone tags me in a photo that they’re in, I want to be confident that I know all of the people in my friend list who might look at that photo. Since then, I only send out friend requests on rare occasions and I only accept them if I know them. From that point on, it was a “Real World Friends Only” type of network.

Once I did accept a friend request once from someone I didn’t know, but who had a lot of common friends. But then I unfriended them immediately when they posted something really derogatory about the LGBTQ community. I didn’t even know that person, why would I continue any sort of connection with someone who posts something derogatory about my friends and family? I didn’t even flinch before clicking “unfriend” because I didn’t really know them anyway.

But since then – I’ve only unfriended two people. One who posted something really offensive about gay sex (between two MEN of course, because sex between two WOMEN is okay because it’s hott) and one who compared liberals to Nazis.

Now…when I see either of those people in public? I go out of my way to be nice. No hard feelings! My thought is that my Facebook page is where I want to connect with people that make me happy. And if you think I’m a Nazi, or if you think the relationship my gay family has with their spouse is disgusting, then I don’t want to share my life with you. I don’t mind being nice to you in the real world at all, but I don’t want you privy to the things I share on Facebook.

And until yesterday? I didn’t think much about this. But it turns out The Hiders? Don’t like it. They think it’s cruel and hurts people’s feelings and think that you should just hide someone to avoid that.

And it’s funny because I’m all about spreading joy and not spreading negativity. So, to find out that something I do really upsets people? Is shocking.

Now – if either of those people confronted me? I could tell them exactly what it was – and no hard feelings – I just don’t want to share the intimate details of my life to someone who judges me or my family so harshly.

The other thing is this – someone who posts those things publicly on Facebook? That’s their public stance. And I do not want to be listed in their “Friends” list if they’re publicly declaring a disgust for gay people or comparing me and my liberal leanings to Nazis.

If I just “hide” them – then I continue to be listed as their friend. And then I have NO IDEA what they’re posting. What if the day after I hide them they post something talking about how a Transgender Male or a Transgender Female is a disgusting abomination. Or if they post that gay teens SHOULD kill themselves! I mean – we’ve all seen those type of views – if I hide someone, what if they post something extremely awful and there is my name: Kim Zoot Holmes listed as their friend?

No. I choose to keep an eye on them. And I do NOT unfriend people just because they think differently from me. I just pulled up my Facebook feed and 4 of the first 10 posts were either anti-Obama or anti-Liberal. But they were RESPECTFUL. I don’t agree with those posts at all, but they weren’t OFFENSIVE. So, my feed is still an assortment of beliefs and view points.

I take Facebook very seriously. Most of the people out there are my real-world family and friends. I think very carefully before I post anything political. I make sure I can stand by it, I make sure I’ve fact-checked it, and I make sure it’s not offensive JUST to be offensive. As much as I love some of my liberal friends, they can be just as blind to their disrespectful tones as some of the offensive conservatives. We don’t foster good discourse if we post inflammatory links and commentary just because they’re inflammatory.

But – I’m not going to ignore things that are inflammatory or disrespectful. I’m not going to hide them and just let those people continue being privy to my life and my postings.

And here’s the thing? DO NOT HIDE ME. If you don’t like what I’m posting? Please! Unfriend me! I promise you, Kim – the most sensitive girl in the world – will actually not mind. We are adults. The great thing about not being in school anymore is we get to choose who we interact with. If my postings offend you? Then please! Unfriend me! That’s part of being a grown-up. And when I see you at a group run – or at PTA meeting – or a field trip – I will still smile and ask you how your life is. Did you like that race? Are your kids playing ball in the Spring? Where did you get that bag it’s TOTES ADORBS. I’ve been unfriended dozens of times, and actually I tend to assume it has more to do with my compulsive running talk than with anything else. AND THAT IS OKAY! I want you to enjoy Facebook as much as I do, and if that means unfriending me? So be it.

To be honest? I probably won’t even notice you’ve unfriended me. Just like I don’t keep up with Twitter followers or blog stats.

But that’s why I’m The Unfriender.

And I totally get why you’d be The Hider. I do. It avoids conflict and you don’t have to suffer through posts that make your blood boil.

But just know…if it’s me you’re hiding? I’d rather you unfriend me. Seriously. We need to be okay with that. We need to be okay with everyone making their Facebook space safe and inviting. I’m honestly paranoid now, is someone hiding me? If they are – can I find out and just ask them to unfriend me?

I saw someone say that “Unfriending someone” makes Facebook like Junior High. And I think just the opposite. Unfriending someone is keeping Facebook from being like Junior High. In Junior High your stuck seeing people you don’t want to hang out with EVERY SINGLE DAY. But on Facebook? You can choose. And that should be okay. If someone unfriends me that is THEIR business and I will not hold it against them in the slightest.

What about you? Are you Hider? Or an Unfriender? Do you get offended if people unfriend you?

25 Comments

  • Bren

    I will admit to hiding someone – just once. I usually just don’t “friend” people I don’t really know or don’t care to hear about. I suppose I could unfriend the person. No one would know but I am kind of a chicken and didn’t want him to know I couldn’t stand his posts (mostly political and usually pretty outrageous).

  • Miriel

    This is so interesting! And I think a lot of it has to do with one’s approach to Facebook. You said that you “take Facebook very seriously.” Which is a totally legitimate approach! But I have a lot of FB friends I haven’t met in real life, and a lot that I met briefly at various events, and a lot that I knew moderately well at one time but haven’t spoken to in a while — and then I have a lot who are family and close friends, whose updates I am the most interested in. But I definitely don’t take it seriously. For me it is a kind of pop-in-and-out, see pictures of my friends’ cute babies or read fun articles people share, share stuff I think is interesting, not too big of a deal type of environment.

    Coming from that perspective, I use hiding a lot. Most of the time, it’s just to curate (ha! I hate that word) my newsfeed so that I’m seeing stuff from people I know well and not so much stuff from people I don’t particularly care about. And I hide notifications from games and stuff like that just because I find them irritating (which you can do without hiding the whole person.) But I would definitely unfriend (and have done so) for something as egregious as the things you mentioned.

  • Sandy

    I have done both. I hid some recently because everything was political. I agreed with them, but didn’t want a constant stream of it. I can unhide later on if I want to. Some unfriending me left me wondering what I did because I knew them personally, but oh well. What’s funny is 3 that I found out had unfriended me have public posts so you still see what they are posting!

  • Brenda

    I am a hider. I have some young family members that post every little meme or ecard that comes along–I really don’t want to read those so I just hide their posts and check their page every couple of days to see what else they are up to. A few years ago I did go through my whole list and delete a bunch of people based on various reasons. I also have learned how to stop all those annoying game updates. I rarely see them unless it’s a new game and I have certain people blocked from sending me game invites. I like that can set up Facebook to see what I want to see πŸ™‚

  • MargieK

    I hide posts, but I don’t hide people. I’m not sure I’ve ever “un-friended” anyone — but I have discovered I’ve been “un-friended,” and even blocked (!), and that hurts because I don’t know why (so I assume they don’t like me — I mean why else would you dissolve a friendship?). Every now and then I’ll see a friend announcing that they’re trimming their friends list (sometimes they say why), and that’s their choice.

    I’ve bumped a relative from “close friend” to just friend because he was posting a LOT of political stuff, most of which I agreed with but the volume was more than I cared to see in my notifications.

    There are a few friends who I disagree with politically (and often hide their posts), but enjoy the music links they post. If I hid THEM (rather than the occasional offensive post), I’d never see the stuff I like.

    I wish there was an easy way to hide political posts, without hiding ALL of them.

    I’ve got it so I hardly ever see game updates, unless it’s a new game. Then I’ll select “Hide all from ___ game.” Done.

    What annoys me is that FB selectively decides what to show us. We don’t get to see everything our friends post, unless we (correct me if I’m wrong about this):
    – set as “close friends” or
    – click on “get notifications”
    Maybe if FB showed me everything, I’d hide more stuff. But probably not.

  • nadine

    I’m somewhere in the middle I think. I have unfriended people, but mostly they’ve been acquaintances from years ago that I haven’t seen or interacted with in years. And I’ve hidden people, mostly just because their posts are too plentiful and/or annoying. (I like that hiding someone still allows me to pop over to their page to scan for quick updates/photos on occasion.) If someone has hidden me for the same reason that’s fine with me.

    I’ve also been unfriended and have never been bothered by this, but I like to think that the reason for that is the same as my reason for unfriending – we’re not really friends. When I first joined facebook years ago I would accept friend requests (for example) from co-workers that I didn’t socialize with outside of work. Now that I haven’t seen them in many years, why would either of us be interested in the other’s life?

    I guess I’m really fortunate that I don’t have posts like the ones you’ve described cluttering up my feed (are Canadians too polite to post such controversial opinions?).

  • Mary

    I hide people pretty often, but I only unfriend people who really offend me. Oh, I also unfriended a bunch of people after my divorce.

    Back in the dark ages, you and I were FB friends (when it was more of a blogger thing), and I didn’t know you unfriended me until I tried to write on your wall on your birthday and realized we were not friends. I was maybe a little sad in passing about it, until you stated that you unfriended most of the people you didn’t know in real life.

    • zoot

      ACK. I’m sorry you got caught in that whirlwind. The first time someone posted a group photo of kids that had Nikki in it and I realized I had 100+ friends that were “blog friends” that I didn’t know and I was paranoid that people would freak out if they knew I didn’t know all of my FB friends in real life. I’m so sorry if you got caught in that middle area between my Blogger Facebook phase and my Real World Who Don’t Understand Bloggers Phase! πŸ™

  • Angie

    I do both. I mostly will hide someone until I decide whether I want to completely unfriend them or if I think whatever annoys me about them will pass. I cleaned out my friends a while back and unfriended people I didn’t really know. Some of my kids friends get hidden and sometimes if I remember, I’ll go look occasionally to see what they are up to. I take FB seriously in that it keeps me connected with friends I otherwise don’t get to see or talk to on a regular basis and I love looking at everyone’s pictures and reading snippets of their lives. I don’t get offended or hurt if I am hidden or unfriended. I won’t even know about the hiding and probably won’t notice I’ve been unfriended for weeks and weeks. I am probably unique (not really the right word) in that I love, love, love when something big is going on in current events and everyone is talking about it on FB. I am super duper interested in everyone’s differing opinions. It intrigues me very much.

  • junkie

    neither, i just got rid of the whole damn thing! πŸ™‚

    thankfully, you have this blog so you’re one of the few where i can still keep up with your lives…you lucky, lucky girl, you! πŸ™‚

  • Chelsea s.

    I am totally in agreement with you on the unfriending thing. If someone annoys me, or posts stuff that offends me, I unfriend them and don’t think twice about it.

    But then theres your weird grandma or awkward uncle who are conpletely embarassing and/or annoying but would TOTALLY awkwardly say something at thr next family gathering or get really mad if you unfriended them… I hide those people.

  • Karen

    I do have people on my FB that I have as yet to know in the “real” world. Most of them are friends of friends. I have hidden the game requests from one of those ( and that is about all they post). If I do any hiding, it is usually specific things instead of the entire person. I have unfriended when someone made frequent offensive or annoying status updates. I guess I’m a hybrid.

  • MrsDragon

    I’ve done both. I generally hide if I suspect the person is a bit of a drama queen and I don’t feel like dealing with it. Did you know there are little aps/plug-ins to tell you who has unfriended you and when? Mind boggling.

    I never thought about the fact that I will still show up as their friend. Hmmm, maybe time to clean house.

    Also, this ties in with this, which I read the other day, Askers vs Guessers. (I would suspect Askers are Unfrienders and Guessers are Hiders).

    http://www.thewire.com/national/2010/05/askers-vs-guessers/19730/

  • Missy

    This is fascinating! I just checked Facebook to see if I had blocked anyone . Nope, but I have blocked app invites from one person. And I have blocked a shit-ton of apps.
    I haven’t been outrageously offended enough yet to block or unfriend someone. But I think I would unfriend them in that case. If it were a case of being annoyed at the frequency of their running posts – for example – I would just block them. I don’t want to stop being their friend, but I do want to stop hearing about it all the time.
    When I do unfriend people, it is because we are no longer close enough friends in real life. For a while I was using Facebook as a collection of everyone I had ever known – school friends, work friends, uni friends – but much like my dream book collection, where I would have every book in every series I’ve ever read, this isn’t really viable. I’m not really sure where the cut off is though – maybe if I would stop and chat and catch up if we ran into each other on the street?

    • MargieK

      You seem to have a different definition of “block.” The people who have blocked me are not FB “friends.” Blocking is one step past un-friending. It prevents me from even finding that person on FB (if I am logged in). It’s like they don’t exist — but if I’m not logged in, or if I’m glancing over a friend’s shoulder (like one of my grown kids) on their FB, then I can see them. It’s like they have made themselves invisible to me. Very offensive, imo — and should only be used for weirdos, stalkers, creeps (again, imo).

      • Missy

        Ah yes, I think you are right. I think I mean unfollow on my timeline? I am obviously not hip to the facebook lingo.
        So I would unfollow people I don’t want to hear from constantly, unfriend people who are offensive or no longer in my life, and block any future stalkers I may get.

  • ailo

    This is so interesting. I’ve never used Facebook as anything other than a medium to check up on people’s lives who I’m curious, whether they’re current friends or people I knew in middle school. I keep people friended because I know I sometimes am legitimately curious about “whatever happened to…”, but I hide them because I just don’t care about their day to day updates. If I ever want to go directly figure out what that person has been up to, though, I keep that option open.

    I’ve actually never come across a post from one of my “friends” that I found offensive. If I did, I’d probably unfriend them, but growing up in a liberal town, going to a liberal university, and working in science has resulted in most people I’ve off-handedly friended maintaining similar viewpoints to my own.

    It makes total sense to me for someone who actively uses Facebook as a personal community like you do to treat it as you do.

  • Cara

    I do both, and they have different purposes for me. First, I am only FB friends with people I am actually friends with in real life or was friends with in college, etc but have fallen out of touch. I do not include casual acquaintances or anyone from work unless we are close enough that we spend substantial social time together and the friendship outweighs the work relationship. If we meet and are socializing a good bit, I will accept a FB friend request. But, if that fizzles and we end up drifting apart, lose touch after you move, etc? I will unfriend you. It’s not an insult, you just aren’t part of my active life and I keep FB for staying in touch with people. My kids photo and bits about her life are on there all the time, and here are boundaries.

    I will also unfriend you if you are consistently posting inflammatory things with which I strongly disagree, and in a heartbeat if you comment aggressively or rudely on my post. I’m okay if that insults them, though that isn’t the intent. If I’ve unfriended you, you’ve hurt or insulted me pretty badly and usually on more than one occasion. Frankly, this also means I won’t be spending time with you in real life, because I don’t spend time with people who aren’t respectful even when we disagree. (I have done this twice, I think, both family. I friend family on FB even if we aren’t close, because they are family. Friends I get to pick, and none would be so mean in our disagreement.)

    I hide specific types of post (ie candy crush), and then I hide people who just clutter up my news feed too much. The best example is the friend who posts news articles all day long. I don’t disagree with him, I have no problem with him seeing my posts, and I periodically click over to scroll through his wall and see whats happening in his family. I don’t want to unfriend him. I just don’t want to sort through his news stream to see what others are writing.

    I don’t really know if anyone objects to my technique. But, it works for me and no one has complained. Also, I have a cousin who regularly unfriends me (and maybe everyone?), and I typically figure it out when I get a new friend request from her. I generally don’t think twice about it. I definitely don’t let it bother me. She’s friend to manage her FB however she wants.

  • Heather@YSP

    I’m mostly a hider, but it’s because the people who deeply offend me on FB are family members who would TOTES get all up in a tizzy if I unfriended them. If it’s friends or casual acquaintances who post crap, I unfriend.

  • Melissa

    Hide the post, not the poster.
    Mostly that’s my rule of thumb. I do hide posts because they keep filtering to the top again now that they are ranked based on engagement. If I didn’t want to see it once, I certainly don’t want to see it again every time it gets a new comment.
    I don’t think I’ve ever unfriended someone – but then no one has ever offended me enough to want to. I could happen I guess.

    Now you didn’t touch on this but I also control the audience of my own posts. Almost everyone is in a “list” and I have a default custom setting that is not everyone gets everything kind of deal. The people who I know in real life and who friended me but I’m not crazy about them really but didn’t want to deal with the fallout of not saying yes… those folks go in Acquaintances and they are excluded from most stuff. Also I have tons of people who work for the same company that friend me but unless I work closely with them – Acquaintances list also.

  • KARA!

    I’m an unfriender too. I’ve only done it a few times, but it was situations very similar to the ones you’ve described.

    I do sometimes wonder why someone has unfriended me, but it doesn’t stress me much because it is usually people from high school I don’t see much.

  • A

    When my daughter died I could not look at others pictures of their children that kept popping up in my newsfeed. Could not. I hid them. I still wanted to connect with them and even check out their photos when my heart could handle it but could not handle the photos popping up on me unexpectedly. At that time, hiding, for me, was better than unfriending. Cause they were not rude or offensive or derogatory or anything. It was pics of cute kids. And I could not stand to look at them.c

  • Rob

    Interesting post. I’m a hider. For me, hiding means “I don’t actually dislike you, but you post too much stuff I don’t want to see.” Unfriending is sterner stuff. If I unfriend you, I probably think you’re a jerk (or worse). I’ve done both, but the latter only rarely. I don’t often friend jerks.

    One reason I don’t unfriend lightly is because while I don’t want to see your day to day cat pictures or nutty conspiracy theories, I may want to swing by your profile once in a blue moon just to see what’s been going on. If you restrict your profile like most people do, I can’t do that.