Esther Baines | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Here\'s Why We Keep People We Hate As Facebook Friends

Here's Why We Keep People We Hate As Facebook Friends

The Debrief: The impossibility of the unfriend button

We all have them- those Facebook friends who make our blood boil every time they appear on our timeline, maybe with a shit inspirational quote or another picture of their baby, yet no matter how much we want to, theres a mystical force inside us making it impossible to click 'unfriend.'

When asked, people have an average of 671 Facebook connections, yet only consider 18 of those to be true friends. This hardly comes as a surprise - we all know too well the appeal of looking through someone’s feed you love to hate, which I imagine in the brain is similar to that weird thing all humans do where we have to  slow down while driving to stare at a car crash. But it turns out there’s actually a scientific reason we keep people on Facebook- a study conducted by Nottingham Trent University found it’s because ‘online troublemakers tend to be socially well connected’- meaning people are worried that if they unfriend someone, it could come back to bite them in real life.

Sarah Buglass, a PhD student who conducted the study, states how ‘the social repercussions of unfriending someone reach far beyond the boundaries of the online network. People don’t want to risk causing offline tension with their friends, family members or colleagues by disconnecting them from their online lives.' 8% of teens said they have got in a physical fight due to an online altercation, but its unlikely you’re going to get in fisticuffs with Michelle from school when she sees you in Co-op and asks why you unfriended her. But would she even ask -surely we’re over social media politics and understand online connections really aren't the be all and end all?

But this does make sense; like a lot of others I can think of a few people I stay friends with just to keep the peace. So in non scientific terms, it basically all comes down to avoiding the awk.

We're all clearly guilty of indulging in this weird cycle, and probably won't stop any time soon. But at least now we know why, which you can think about whilst you scroll through that Malia 2011 album. 

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Tags: Facebook et al, Science Says