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Is Your Social Media Friend’s List Filled with People You Dislike?

Do you like all the people you have added as online friends? Apparently, Not. Most people have online friends that they would cross the street to avoid seeing in person. Still, researchers have found that people connect with others as Facebook friends despite disliking them.

Social conventions and politeness might prompt individuals to accept or send friend requests, even if they don’t genuinely like the person. Rejecting or unfriending someone could be perceived as impolite. Also, some individuals may prefer to passively observe others they dislike online just out of curiosity. Another reason could be that passively consuming information is not as exciting as actually connecting with others online. Social media provides global connectivity where millions of people interact daily using images, posts, comments, messages, likes and reshares. 

Personality May Hold Answers Regarding Why People Add Random Strangers On Social Media

The personality of users may explain why many people add random people as Facebook friends. For example, neurotic people may want to show the world that they have a big social circle, extraverts may want to engage with as many people as possible, agreeable people may find it hard to turn down an invitation to connect, and narcissists may like to share their fortunes with the population at large. 

Similarly, attachment styles can also give an insight into why disliked people are added as friends. For example, anxiously attached individuals tend to feel uncomfortable with themselves and may give precedence to their relationships with others online.

Research Answers Why People May Be Adding Disliked People As Friends On Social Media 

Most people are aware that social media profiles are embellished to attract more online friends, yet intense feelings of love, hate, jealousy, envy, and anger are directed towards online profiles. Research conducted on 305 college students found that majority of Facebook users added others as ‘Facebook friends’ despite disliking them. Additionally, 85% of the research participants actively read postings of their online ‘friends’, even though they found those postings annoying.

Some underlying factors that could increase the odds of friending disliked people on Facebook and reading their annoying posts include gender. For example, female Facebook users were more prone to adding disliked others and reading annoying Facebook posts. Additionally, users with high Facebook use (irrespective of gender), or those experiencing higher general relational anxiety also added disliked others as Facebook friends and read their annoying posts. 

Another study found that sharing excessive photos of family and friends on social media could adversely impact one’s relationship quality. For instance, researchers found that individuals who frequently shared photos of their friends on social media tended to receive less support and intimacy from their family members. Similarly, individuals who frequently shared photos of their family on social media tended to have less supportive friends.

Take home message: Choose your books and social media friends very cautiously. 

For Further Reading

Partners are ignoring their spouses to stay in touch with online friends.
https://mindfulrelation.com/the-24-hour-day-can-we-reclaim-the-time-invested-in-virtual-relationships/

Houghton, D., Joinson, A., Caldwell, N., & Marder, B. (2013) Tagger’s delight? Disclosure and liking in Facebook: the effects of sharing photographs amongst multiple known social circles. Discussion Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham.http://epapers.bham.ac.uk/1723/1/2013-03_D_Houghton.pdf

Vendemia, M. A., High, A. C., & DeAndrea, D. C. (2017). “Friend” or foe? Why people friend disliked others on Facebook, Communication Research Reports, 34, 29-36. doi:10.1080/08824096.2016.1227778

About the Author: Irum Abbasi is a post-doctoral researcher. Her research focuses on unraveling different ways in which social media shapes and influences various types of relationships, ranging from personal connections to professional networks.

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