Wednesday August 14, 2013 | 09:31 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

We've all been faced with this quandary. Unfortunate Facebook friends that we just don't know what to do with. It can be a slippery slope to be sure. People do all sorts of crazy things when it comes to Facebook. I mean, Jennifer Christine Harris of Des Moines, Iowa set fire to house of friend who "unfriended" her on Facebook—or—there was the Tennessee father who murdered a couple after they unfriended his daughter. So, taking this insanity into consideration, how do we determine the appropriate action for each transgression?

First of all, do not be afraid. The reactions I cited above are obviously extreme and rare. For example, I've been unfriended on more than one occasion and I have yet to commit murder. Or arson. I didn't even mutter profanity. If my posts bother someone, I'd much rather that they do what they need to do to silence me than live in a state of perpetual annoyance. Fortunately Facebook gives us several options to deal with people like me. You can hide me, you can unfriend me, and if I really frighten you, you can block me.

So, how do you decide which option to exercise? The choice is yours, but I'll give you a few hopefully helpful hints. To start, let's say you find my posts self-involved, mundane, all too frequent, and you just can't bear to listen to me anymore. However, for some reason, you don't want to unfriend me. Maybe I'm your boss or your brother or you're currently dating me (as if). This is where the "hiding" option comes into play. By taking this step you can ensure that none of my posts appear in your timeline. And, I'll never know it. You'll also still be able to go to my page if you want to remind yourself of why you wanted to silence me in the first place. It's really a very convenient option. I use it all the time to silence people just like me.

Just to make sure I wasn't the only person in love with the hiding option, I asked around to see what others thought. Here's what Liz Pettengill of Portland had to say:

"I have a terrible problem with de-friending people. I honestly think that's why I have so many Facebook friends; not because I'm an overly likeable person but because for whatever reason I can't bring myself to de-friend that random kid I met at a party freshman year of college whose name I wouldn't even remember if it weren't for FB, or my uncle's ex-wife's cousin-in-law who I met once at a family reunion. But I have no qualms with hiding people from my newsfeed. How do I decide when to hide someone?  I have two criteria: babies and bitching. If I know everything there is to know about your baby's latest bowel movement but I don't even know your middle name - hide. If your posts continually make me want to slit my wrists (or yours to put you out of your never ending agony, headaches, long work weeks, period cramps etc.) - hide. It's a pretty simple formula really."

Thanks Liz. That was very direct and specific. And, slightly disturbing. Just what I was looking for. I also spoke with Tracie Reed of Portland. It turns out she's another fan of occasionally hiding friends. Here's what she had to say:

"I don't frequently de-friend or hide people. One instance where I did, though, was right after a breakup when my emotions were just too raw to see my ex posting about his fun adventures. In that instance I hid my ex and a couple of his close friends who had the habit of posting photos of him. I've also hidden people who repeatedly posted comments or photos I've found really offensive or NSFW."

Thanks Tracie, I knew I was onto something with this hiding thing. Now, if I could just find an ex to hide, life would be perfect.

So, for those of you who don't know, how exactly do you hide someone like me? It's really very easy. When you’re on the news feed and browsing through the updates from your Facebook friends and you decide you’ve had just about enough of my, or any friends’s, updates, take the following steps:

- Place your cursor on the right side of their update where the drop-down menu appears. Click on the option that reads "I don't want to see this." You will then be given a list of options. Select "Unfollow [First & Last Name]." This person's posts will now be hidden from your timeline.

It's all very easy. With one single click you'll never have to hear from me again. I'll never be the wiser. And, if for some reason you decide you miss me, hiding a person and their updates can be undone. So, there you have it. Commence hiding.

Now, for the two more severe options—unfriending and blocking. If you think that I'm really offensive and you just don't want to have any connection with me—or—if you're simply cleaning house and getting rid of people who you don't really consider to be your friends, you can unfriend me. It's simple. Go to my page and at the top there will be a button marked "Friends." Hover over the button and a drop-down menu will appear. At the bottom there is an option to unfriend. Click that and we will no longer be friends. I will be aware of this the next time I go to your page or try to send you a message. Don't worry, I won't burn your house down. I promise.

Last but not least, there is the blocking option. You should exercise this option if you are truly afraid of me for some reason, like you think I might try to steal all of your grooming products or your boyfriend. This option is simple to exercise too. Follow the same instructions (above) for unfriending. Above the option to unfriend, there is an option to report/block. Click that and we're really history. I won't be able to see anything associated with your posts, other people's references to your posts, or your page. I'll officially be dead to you, and I'll know it if I try to look you up. Boo hoo.

So there you have it. Why suffer when you can hide, unfriend or block? No more complaining, just do it. Go.

 

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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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