De-Friend Sounds Better than Remove

Photo by signalstation used under Creative Commons

Photo by signalstation used under Creative Commons

Mashable had a highly entertaining post earlier in the week called “12 Great Tales of De-Friending“. As social networking eases into the mainstream consciousness, awkward situations will arise, and since there’s no playbook, conventional wisdom or Miss Manners for social network interactions, stories of de-friending will continue to entertain us.

Or not, depending on your role in the interaction.

I don’t recall ever de-friending anyone on Facebook or LinkedIn, i.e. networks where you make a request to connect with a person. I don’t pay close enough attention to know if I’ve been defriended either, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s happened. Whether or not that stings would depend on the person, I suppose.

Twitter is a totally different animal because of its asynchronous connection model, i.e. I can follow you and your tweet stream without a reciprocal follow from you. FriendFeed also employs this model, and I like it much better for these networks because it allows more control over the stream of information you receive.

Although I don’t expect everyone I follow to follow me in return, I’m sure some people do. I tried to do this for a while, until I was following about 250 people, and Twitter began to lose its value to me. My stream was so loud that I couldn’t sort out the noise.

So, I scaled back to a smaller number, and combined with TweetDeck, which has groups, it’s much easier to keep track of all the tweets. Incidentally, Corvida mentioned TweetGrid yesterday, which allows you to follow multiple keywords in real time, e.g. hashtags like #oow, replies like @jkuramot, anything. Very cool for conferences, methinks, and it’s web-based, so no client install or preferences.

Anyway, Facebook pioneered the News Feed, and they’ve added granular controls that allow you to control how much of your friends’ noise gets into your News Feed. This filtering allows you a passive-aggressive way to avoid people without the messy de-friending.

Wandered a bit off topic, but no worries. So, I don’t personally have any horror stories of de-friending gone wrong. Maybe you do? If so, please share in the comments.

Joel’s comment on the data visualization post earlier in the week got me thinking about the not-so-funny ramifications of social network interactions. Showing real-time, geo-tagged interactions could lead to real world outlets for the hurt and embarrassment caused by something like de-friending.

When shown at a global level with no user information included, the visualization is harmless eye-candy, but if the visualization is both personal and geo-tagged, a la flickrvision or twittervision, it’s only a matter of time before you get problems IRL.

Case in point, the machinations of social networking employed on MySpace that are currently on display in an LA court.

So, what do you think about all this? Care to share a de-friending story? Maybe some other thoughts on social networking and its affect on meat life?

Find the comments.



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