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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.”


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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About Ad-libbed (3 Articles)
He is 26% husband, 31% father, 24% humorist, 43% guy responsible for picking up the dog poop in the backyard, and 87% guy who never really understood how percentages work. He is tolerated by his wife, two teenaged daughters, and the indefatigable Superdog. He writes, rambles and muses about any topic that grabs him, and every gripping adventure committed to print becomes completely riveting in his own mind. He’d be incredibly rich and famous if it weren’t for the fact that he's not, and for some reason he's written this in the third person.

49 Comments on Purging Facebook Friends: Psychological Warfare At Its Finest

  1. I just unfriended another 300 people recently. I’ve gone from 600 something to 63 in the last year. I hate everyone. This is spot on.

    I got a message from someone I hadn’t spoken to in nearly a year, ” you unfriended me?” I think that’s so creepy and sad. Like you went to creep my profile, realized I unfriended you and now your admitting to it.
    Fuck people.


  2. I’ve unfriended someone, then they tried to refriend me. I accepted the friendship, then unfriended them again.


  3. Haha! Nice.


  4. Reblogged this on Ad-libbed.


  5. I recently did a Mao Tse-Tung-related purge. It’s reassuring to know I was justified.


  6. I was thinking of putting up my pictures of my junk wrapped in various types of barbed wire. Should be good, right?


    • They covered that on page six of the study: researchers say it depends on the size of the junk, the amount of and positioning of the barbed wire, and the resolution of the photos. The right combination of factors earns you more friends; the wrong combination gets you arrested.


  7. The finger symbol. Oh yes, I bet this one would be quite popular. It is strange when you stop to think, my girlfriend’s boyfriend’s cousin’s sister, yeah, who is this person anyway? And, of course, the inevitable context collapse! Facebook is so perplexing!


  8. ^ back again because of Amy’s tweets.

    This summarizes many reasons why I nuked my FB account to kingdom come and washed my hands completely of it.

    I once thought G+ would be better. *cough* No, not really. It really wasn’t.


  9. Bruce Goodman // May 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm //

    I’ve been on Facebook for only a couple of years so am still new to it. How do you make a friend?


  10. If someone should get a scientific degree for such studies, it’s you, not the people from the linked studies. This blog post is a thousand times more informative than that Stating The Obvious thing, and I think everyone who has a Facebook account should read it.

    A person I know, let’s call him Steve… well, he recently unfriended Alice, a girl he hadn’t been speaking to for over a year. Nope, not even on Facebook. Not even a “Nice picture, darling”. He also thought she really didn’t have any particular value in his life- they’d never been close, and probably never would be. She was actually just a friend of a friend of a friend, and they’d met only a few times. Time to hit that unfriend button! But after this was done, Alice sent him a long message going on about how she couldn’t understand his decision and that she was HURT. And that’s just hilarious to me. If that Facebook “friendship” was so valuable to her, how come she didn’t ever make an effort to let him know that? How on EARTH can you not speak to a friend of a friend of a friend for one year and then be pissed that this friend of a friend of a friend chooses to unfriend you? It’s just weird to me. (To make the story more weird: Steve added her as a friend again because he didn’t like someone being hurt by him. When I called him out on this behavior, he said that she matters so little to him, that it’s no big deal if she keeps being in his friend list. And I’m like… HAVE SOM BALLS, MAN, AND STOP BEING SUCH A FALSE LAME PRICK)

    I think I’m gonna direct Alice to this post…


    • Dear heavens…weird indeed, Lili. “She matters so little to him that it’s no big deal if she keeps being in his friend list.” Wow. Steve and Alice sound like a psychotherapist’s wet dream.


  11. Before this post, I didn’t even know what Facebook was…


  12. Wait, FB tells that person they’ve been unfriended? So much for keeping things under the table. My list is well under 3 digits, so I guess I’ve been clinging to whomever I’ve got right now, whether they ever post or not. But I have hidden some people without unfriending them. If FB tells them that, I haven’t heard it from them.

    …or maybe they’ve been trying to tell me, but are hidden? {{sigh}}

    Ah, WTH am I talking about? FB tells everyone everything, so why is any of this a surprise? I haven’t even given them my phone #, but it’s probably still telling people where I am at all times.


    • Some days, when I’m feeling hopeful about humanity, I’ll drop the offending annoying parties from my newsfeed rather than commit to the ol’ unfriend click of death. Silently passive aggressive, yes, but makes things a lot less awkward at the next family barbeque…


  13. It’s a little crazy how unaware people are of who is actually in amongst their “friends”. Here’s a scenario for you…
    A young couple with a child. Both on facebook. They gather friends. They share their lives with said friends…yadda, yadda. Fast forward to the big breakup. They unfriend each other. They remember to unfriend each other’s mothers. The guy is an idiot. He forgets about all the rest of the gal’s relatives. The guy is an idiot. He posts everything on facebook. Pictures of inappropriate behavior, scanky girls, drunk and disorderly, drugs, money, etc. At the court case regarding the custody/visitation/support payments the idiot appears all cleaned up, sweet innocent and broke. The very smart young lady’s attorney spreads in front of everyone a vast collection of photos, videos and posts from the idiots facebook page. The guy is given supervised visits with his daughter and has to pony up.
    The moral of the story…don’t be an idiot. Purge all those people who are somebody’s Aunt, Uncle, cousin twice removed. Oh, and don’t put incriminating stuff on facebook.


    • Sounds like someone should do a study on the number of times Facebook has been the downfall of idiots. I bet there are some really good stories there.


  14. This is completely accurate and could not be happier that y’all got it right!


  15. Thank you so much for wading through the drivel to get down to the nitty gritty of this study. Hilarious!!


  16. Great post. My latest blog was about Facebook cleansing as well!


  17. Wow! I didn’t know I was supposed to keep track of my friends on Facebook. Do they tell me if someone unfriends me?


  18. I actually find this to be extremely accurate and funny. Great post!


  19. What I find interesting is when someone unfriends you (because nobody ever does that to me..I’m awesome) and then they suddenly months later send me (I mean you) a friend request. And you realize he/she misses you or me or us…whatever… and had to sort of take the walk of shame and hit the “request friendship” button twice. I click “decline.” Every.Single.Time. That bastard should have realized how cool I was/you were/we are the first time around.

    I hate Facebook. And I love it. We have a tumultuous relationship.


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