What an awful term. If you look up a definition, you will learn it means to remove someone from a list of friends on a social media site. But this is, to me, an unfortunate and corrosive use of the word “friend” and the bonds that are painfully severed when you cease to be friends – actual, real-life friends.
Friendship, from the Greek phileo (as in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia), is a form of love. It is a significant connection between people based on shared likes or experiences or based on the kinds of personality quirks that cause two people to “hit it off” as soon as they meet each other. It often matures and deepens over years or even a lifetime. As a love, friendship is a connection that goes deeper into our psyche than a surface acquaintance and is thus something that is not easily undone. In the real world it is not easy to “unfriend” someone.
But in the virtual world, it’s pretty easy. It is literally a click of a button. You do that, and you no longer need to be pestered by their politics or cat videos. You no longer must put up with them and whatever they do that annoys you. And once they are out of your social media feed, you have a much more comfortable experience every time you flip through Facebook.
You have successfully, and rather painlessly, scrubbed your life of another annoyance.
It doesn’t work that way in real life. It can’t. If you can easily scrub a real-life friend, it was never really a love you had for them.
Cherish and foster your friendships. Use social media as a way to encourage actual friendships, but don’t use a virtual platform as a substitute for real-life. Friends are meaningful, and the older you get the more they mean.