Some weak ties were meant to stay weak


If you’re a Facebook user, you know that other users don’t know when you remove them as a friend and vice versa.  (Unless you’re paying specific attention to that person’s updates and suddenly they disappear.)

If you can get over the ego bruise, I think you’ll find that unfriending is a good thing for your social network.

Kate Niederhoffer outlines a few reasons why people prune their networks:
  • Informational / Strength of bond
  • Permissive /  Visibility
  • Identity Claim / Reputation Management 

These factors go both ways, of course.

With the rise of social networks and hyperconnectivity, I think we’re biased to believe that all weak ties should be made stronger.  But just because they CAN be doesn’t mean they SHOULD be.  Friendship isn’t dead, but in some cases it needs to be taken off of social media life support.

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  1. Along the same lines, I think that an interesting question is: Does online friendship need to be binary?

    Most friend scenarios in real life aren’t on/off, barring extreme circumstances: money/love/etc, so why do we think that social network “friends” need to be that way?

    Having been on both sides of the on-line unfriending business, there is just too much baggage that goes along with it. I suppose that a good answer is for people to just accept it when it happens, but what do we all lose collectively from that un-connection? (That would probably be a cool study…)

    Filters will allow me to focus on and stay connected with people that are pertinent to me right now, while still providing access to all of my weak tie relationships when I want to get back in touch.

    -chris

  2. Funny, this is something I’ve thought about recently. Why do I have a significant number of friends that I don’t communicate with, don’t pay attention to status changes, and some of which I’ve never even met? These friends make it more difficult to follow the people I do care about. I think I’m going to choose quality over quantity.

  3. People trim their friends to create more relevance. They expand friends (or more casual connections) to create more resources. IT is a balance. But many tools/filters/search is making that balance easier to achieve.

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