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Maggie Winterfeldt Clark of The Editorialite learned an unexpected lesson when she was unfriended on Facebook
I was browsing through my timeline the other day, as I often do to procrastinate first thing in the morning, when I came upon a friend’s picture from the weekend. In it, a group of smiling faces gathered around an outdoor grill. While I had only met most of the people in the group once or twice, two of them I knew and was Facebook friends with—or so I thought.
“I haven’t seen anything about her in at least a year. I wonder how she’s doing,” I said to myself as I looked at one of the two. I clicked on her name and was taken to a limited profile; mutual friends, profile picture only, “hm, that’s strange. She must’ve instated strict privacy settings,” I thought, still not getting it. “I wonder if she became a school teacher or a CIA agent.”
Then, I saw it; a looming +1 next to a hovering rectangle asking me if I wanted to “Add friend.” My heart skipped a beat as the realization hit: I’ve been unfriended.
My Initial Reaction
I tried to look at it rationally; we were never exactly besties. I had a big falling out with one of her best friends, so maybe it was strange that we were ever Facebook friends to begin with. But we were, and somewhere in the last twelve months she looked at my virtual presence with disdain, went to my profile, found the “Friend” drop down button, clicked “Unfriend” and confirmed “Yes”; she wanted to terminate our virtual friendship. In my mind, all of this occurred as a group of mean girls cackled over her shoulder, goading her on through each step of the unfriending process.
“Ew! You’re friends with Maggie Winterfeldt Clark? I can’t staaaand that grotsky little biotch!” they said, laughing maniacally. “Defriend her at once!”
Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic. I’m not Trang Pak, and this isn’t a cinematic Lindsay Lohan vehicle of the early aughts, but, like a movie, the relationship is something that didn’t exist in the real world. So why am I putting so much weight on someone terminating a friendship that was mostly virtual?
The First Step
Still struggling to make peace with it this morning, I Googled “defriended on Facebook.” The first result was a WikiHow article entitled “3 Ways to Get Over Being Unfriended on Facebook.”
According to the article, the first step to overcoming a defriending is to confirm that you have, in fact, been defriended. I had. The second step helps you to determine how you have irritated or offended this person to the point that she unfriended you—Are you a complainer? Are you stalking? Are you showing off? Are you being spammy?—while gently reminding you not to take it too personally.
Needless to say, I took it personally.
By the afternoon the sting had subsided a bit, and I moved onto the article’s step 3: Understand and accept. Yes, she took the time to deliberately defriend me, but, frankly, I do post a lot on Facebook for The Editorialite, and this could be interpreted as spammy or showing off. It might not be uncomfortable PDA, baby picture overload or game requests (three additional reasons the article suggests could lead to a defriending), but it is personal and persistent newsfeed updates. If I was never her cup of tea, then I could see how these frequent updates could become bothersome.
A Real Life Lesson
In one way, this makes the defriending even more personal; she saw who I was through my posts and rejected me. In another way, it’s liberating. I’m exposing my true self, putting candid details of my life out onto the world wide web and allowing those who like it to take and those who dislike it to leave it. I don’t have to be liked by everyone, and that’s okay. I would rather expose my true self to public scrutiny on Facebook than live as a benevolent pushover, more concerned with being liked than being true to herself.
The WikiHow article stopped at three steps to getting over a Facebook defriending, but I think it needs a fourth step: become comfortable in your tangible persona, even if it comes at the cost of your virtual one. Someone might not like me on Facebook, but I like myself in real life—and that’s enough.
Maggie Winterfeldt Clark is a San Francisco Chronicle contributor and lady behind The Editorialite.