How I was virtually defriended!

December 4th, 2009

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I have more than 1500 “connections” on Twitter, about 350 plus “friends” on Facebook, another 500-odd “contacts” on LinkedIn. I thought, until now, that it meant I’m popular and people wanted to be connected/befriend me. Oh boy, I was wrong.

Last week I encountered “this one woman” on one of the 15-plus discussion groups I belong to on LinkedIn. This “woman” had some very interesting ideas about digital marketing and branding opinions that I agreed with, so I sent her an invitation to join my network on the professional networking site. Promptly, I got an e-mail saying, “Thanks for the invite but I connect with people I know and hopefully our paths will cross one day.

I read and re-read the mail with a sense of disbelief and the thought that echoed in my head was “Oh, crap. I’ve been rejected.” It just didn’t sink in. I had an itch to mail the woman back and ask her why she did that, but I soon forgot all about the mail.

Next day, a random check on my Facebook profile told me that I have 10 “friends” less. (Since I had managed to round off my friend-count on Facebook to 350, I remembered the figure). As of today, I have just 330 friends left on my Facebook. All I could think was didn’t people t want to be “friends” with me anymore? Was my popularity declining or what?

That night, I went back to the internet and dug out a report that told me that social networking sites are common grounds to “dump online relationships” since the awkwardness is minimized while maintaining users’ privacy. In fact, according to Urban Dictionary, defriending is often seen as passive-aggressive behavior – ending a friendship without having to confront the person in question.

Having read all the “social behavior” explanation, I was no where close to feeling comforted. So, next best option for me was - revenge. We are fast approaching towards the end of the year, so I decided that my resolution for 2010 would be to remove strangers with whom I am no longer in contact on my social networks. This way I get to keep my number of friends down and build a quality of existing friendships online.

When social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, began their rise to popularity, users seemed to race to add as many friends as possible, in an indiscriminate manner, perhaps out of curiosity to find out what acquaintances were up to, or maybe just to be seen as popular online. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to claim that I have never added strangers on my social networking networks, but I have made sure that I added people who were either an acquaintance of any of my real life friends/family.

But now, its time I start defriending a few.

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