Friendship: An Etiquette for Friending & Unfriending

February 28, 2013

By: Wayne Baker

Originally posted on Our Values

This week, columnist Terry Gallagher is writing the OurValues series …

Earlier this week, we looked at the graph showing that the word “friend” is on the upswing, after more than a century of declining use.

Maybe it’s growing because, since the rise of Facebook, people are using “friend” as a verb. You couldn’t look for a better authority on that than the New Oxford American Dictionary, which added the verb form to its entry for “friend” in 2010, meaning to “add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.”

They added “unfriend” at the same time, and we all know, or can guess, what that means.

Which brings up a question: when is it okay to “unfriend” someone? There’s tons of advice about Facebook etiquette out there on the web, but when I have etiquette questions, I turn to Emily Post.

On Emily’s online “etipedia,” it says, “It is definitely okay to unfriend someone you no longer feel comfortable being connected with.”

I think it was a character in one of Samuel Beckett’s early novels who believed that friendship was eternal. So if he later found that he had been deceived about a so-called friend’s fidelity, he wouldn’t say, “He used to be a friend of mine.” Instead, he’d say, “I used to think he was my friend.”

Do you agree with Beckett: Friendship is never-ending?

When is unfriending necessary?

Got a helpful unfriending tip to share?