In the 1997 movie Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, the two title characters, worried that they haven’t done anything noteworthy to share at said reunion, decide instead to lie and claim they invented Post-it notes.
Their story quickly unravels, of course, but had the movie been made a decade later, even the very concept of the ruse would have been impossible. Everyone would have known about Romy’s daily slog at the Jaguar dealership through Facebook.
Or would they?
The ebb and flow of Facebook friendships has become fruitful territory for social scientists in recent years. At least 63 percent of people report having unfriended someone on Facebook, but what prompts these digital rejections can tell us a lot about both the nature of real-life friendship and about how we manage our online personalities.
Past research by Christopher Sibona of the University of Colorado Denver found that the four most common reasons for unfriending on Facebook were: “frequent/unimportant posts, polarizing posts (politics and religion), inappropriate posts (sexist, racist remarks), and everyday life posts (child, spouse, eating habits, etc.) and in that order of frequency.”
But this time, Sibona sought to determine who, exactly, these jilted Face-friends are. And are we more willing to tolerate a sexist quip from an elderly relative than we are from a kickball teammate?