Purging Facebook Friends: Psychological Warfare At Its Finest

issue #7

Deep in the bunkers here at the Long Awkward Pause Command Post, we often receive emails from helpful readers who alert our crack team of investigative journalists to important breaking news stories.

In accordance with our strict standards of journalistic integrity, we carefully review every submission, especially the ones that contain Starbucks gift cards and links to high-quality NSFW pictures.

Occasionally a story demands our attention, and when we read about two new university studies which tried to figure out the most likely type of person to be unfriended on Facebook and the emotional consequences on the dumped friend, well, we just had to look into it.

In the first study, which undoubtedly came from the university’s holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-someone-got-a-grant-for-this department, researchers concluded that the act of unfriending someone is the result of a breakdown in the friendship – something referred to as context collapse.

In the second study, researchers revealed that, after being unfriended, the freshly-dumped Facefriends felt “bothered and saddened.”

Meh.

The one button Facebook users have been truly waiting for.

The one button Facebook users have been truly waiting for.

As you can imagine, this is all highly complicated science stuff, and our mission here at LAP is to avoid making our valued readers think too hard. So in the interest of simplicity, here are the key findings from the study, accompanied by our official, non-scientific LAP translation:

Important Study Result #1:

The most common Facebook friends who are subjected to “unfriending behaviors” are, in order: high school friends, “other” friends, friends of friends, and then work friends.

Translation: When spring cleaning your friend list, the thought process goes like this:

1)      “Hmmm. Richard Heimlinn…ah, right, from the sixth grade drama club. When was the last time I even spoke to this guy? Doesn’t he still owe me four bucks from that day I covered his lunch in the cafeteria? And look at these pictures…how the hell did someone so devoted to polyester end up fathering so many damn kids? Whatever…later, Dick.” (Click)

2)      “When the hell did I become friends with Mort Higginsloth, an insurance actuary from Newark? Tough beans, Morty…buh-bye” (Click)

3)      “Honey, have we ever actually met Lisa Luckworth? I think she’s your friend’s cousin’s nephew’s best friend’s girlfriend…or something. Know what? Doesn’t matter. She’s dead to me.” (Click)

4)      “Holy crap! I’m friends with Nora from accounting? I bet she’s the one who busted me that time I called in sick and then posted pictures of myself wakeboarding! Debit this in your general journal, bitch.” (Click)

Like, did Melissa just seriously unfriend us?

Like, did Melissa just seriously unfriend us?

Important Study Result #2:

People often unfriend people for their actions in the real world, or for what they see as stringent, polarized political or religious beliefs. The next most common reason is for frequent, uninteresting status updates.

Translation: If you’re a guy who has cheated on a girl, or a girl who has cheated on a guy, or have suddenly decided that the early teachings of Mao Tse-Tung have changed your life and desperately need to tell everyone about it, or you’re the person who habitually posts all 642 pictures of your ugly kid’s fourth birthday party, don’t be surprised if you get unfriended.

Important Study Result #3:

After being unfriended, people described their initial responses as being surprised, bothered, and sad.

Translation: This is obvious, just like the results of the research team’s next set of comprehensive scientific studies, where they will inevitably conclude that sex is awesome, pizza is delicious, and alcohol makes you believe you’re a fantastic dancer. On another note though, consider tucking this tidbit of info into your personal arsenal of psychological weapons – making friends with your enemies on Facebook only to turn around and unfriend them a day later is now a scientifically-proven tortuous mindscrew.

So there you have it, everyone. You now fully understand the complex psychological reasons why people get unfriended on Facebook. Oh, and if we used to be friends on Facebook and you suddenly realize that we’re not friends anymore and would like to know what happened, the correct answer is:

“Bite me, Morty. I have enough life insurance.”

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