Delicate De-Friending

Check out this letter from my virtual friend Mary A., originally posted on her delightful blog:

Dear Annabel:
I love Facebook and tend to be somewhat of a… you know. Rhymes with “door.”

This week I noticed that I had over 450 Facebook friends. They are my friends. Really. Each of them.

The thing is, some of them are people who are never on Facebook, so we rarely connect. Some of them are people I see ALL THE TIME, so we over-connect.

So I un-Facebooked a few. I un-Facebooked 142, to be exact. I didn’t say I un-FRIENDED them. They are still my friends — I hope, anyway. I meant them to still be friends. Some people are better friends in person than online. In fact, I sent an e-mail to the 142 people explaining that I was limiting my Facebook connections, but I still value their friendship.

Of the 142 people, 140 didn’t care. Hell, they might not have even noticed. But 2 got offended.

Both of the 2 who got offended were people I see ALL THE TIME. It’s not like I severed contact. I didn’t disown them. I didn’t delete their e-mails. I just didn’t feel like Facebook added anything to our friendship.

Please, Miss Annabel, tell me what I should do to remedy the situation? I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Sincerely, Mary A.

Hey Miss Mary, thanks for writing.

This is a tricky one. In some ways, real-life social connections are easier to manage. Once a friendship has run its course, people simply move on without labels or declarations. Online, there’s no graceful way out — at least, not yet.

I think you did the right thing by sending a note that explained your Facebook fatigue. After all, you’re a busy woman with a family and a job. There are only so many hours one can devote to social media in a given week!

Still, it’s important to remember that virtual slights stir up actual emotions. Nobody likes feeling left out or hearing that they didn’t make the cut.

Since both of the insulted parties are people you see often, I suggest having a real-life conversation with each of them. Something along the lines of:

“I’m so sorry if I hurt your feelings over this whole Facebook thing. Between work and the kids, I’m incredibly pressed for time in every area of my life. I really value your friendship, and I’m glad I get to enjoy it offline.”

If that doesn’t thaw them out, then these two probably weren’t true friends in the first place.

Hope that helps eradicate the awkwardness!

Graciously yours,

ANNABEL MANNERS

P.S. Spring fever strikes again! I went to the nail place today and emerged with a trendy lavender manicure (pictured above). What do we think? Chic or eek?

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