THE BLOG
09/19/2013 04:34 pm ET Updated Nov 19, 2013

Unfriending Breaks Up Friendships

Friends come and go. At the outset of college, students move away from home and soon see high school friendships dissolve. Then, their group of floor mates from freshman year, once tight-knit, may slowly unravel.

College is a time for personal growth and self-exploration. We become more absorbed in our own lives and grow busier with classes, clubs and internships. That leaves little time for long text conversations or weekly Skype calls. It's only natural for relationships to change.

But the age of social media has transformed the way we make, keep and lose friends.

With the click of a button, a person can "unfriend" another. This has come to be the final say of a real-life friendship. But how does someone get to that point? Is it the right route to take?

Everyone has gone through a "friend divorce" at some point in their lives, for one reason or another. This can be caused by an argument that leads to "a tangle of awkward exchanges, made-up excuses, hurt feelings and lingering ill will," as The New York Times explains it.

On one hand, a person may end the friendship but continue to interact with them online. On the other, someone may choose to click "unfriend" but, once the anger has died down, will act like nothing has changed the next time you cross paths.

While the aforementioned options may not be the best way to end a friendship, the decision to "unfriend" someone seems unnecessary. It may be trivial to take "unfriending" so personally, but social media has become so pervasive that "unfriending" seems like a harsh measure.

New York Magazine editor Maureen O'Connor, in a column she wrote titled "All My Exes Live in Texts," pondered the question of why the social media generation never really breaks up. Her article went viral. It's almost impossible these days to completely lose touch with an ex or to avoid knowing what they're doing. The same applies to former friends.

Because of social media, "friend divorces" aren't as simple as one would hope. Dozens of photos and old memories will still be there, and their online presence is not erased. You may notice the ex-friend become available on Google chat, or another person might retweet the ex-friend on Twitter.

If you're going to remain friends or followers, be courteous in person as well. Liking their photos is easy. A real greeting matters more than 20 likes.

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