As wonderful a tool as Facebook is, it's also another way for people to get hurt. If you've ever been 'unfriended' and walked away from the experience emotionally bruised, you're not alone. Face it, no one wants to be that person that sees your friend list shrink.

You start to second guess yourself, 'what did I do', 'was it something I said', 'was I posting too much' all come into play when trying to analyze the situation. Fortunately, researchers at Chapman University have been doing some research on the subject and have found some consistent trends:

  • The more often you use Facebook, the more likely you are to get hurt by unfriending
  • If you initiated the friendship, you're more likely to feel stronger about the unfriending
  • Unknown vs known who unfriended you yields different levels of reaction

The strongest reaction to being unfriended came from those who thought they posted too much, was something they said or posted about polarizing topics (like politics/religion/etc) and making crude comments.

If you want to know what really hurts, have a family member or close friend unfriend you. The combination of the regular social relationship is compounded by the online social relationship, making what researchers believe is a much stronger connection.

Facebook has become society's non-private diary, where people publish their innermost feelings and opinions in a way they wouldn't do in a face-to-face relationship. This exceedingly open dialog can be refreshing, with people finally saying what's on their minds, but some times they forget social norms when communicating and end up saying things they'd never say directly to their closest friends, much less casual acquaintances.

When using Facebook, remember the following:

  1. Never type anything you wouldn't say directly to another person (or group of people)
  2. Be cautious around explosive topics (politics/religion/sex)
  3. Unless you set it properly, anything you say can be seen by people you didn't intend for them to see
  4. Your profile page is a representation of YOU, not someone you'd like to be or an alter-ego
  5. Facebook posting while 'under the influence' rarely turns out good

While there are plenty of other ways to keep your 'Friends' list from shrinking, these may help keep your Facebook friends from hitting the 'Unfriend' button.