Why? Catching up, staying in touch, reconnecting with long lost school friends, learning a bit, getting info, feeling connected in a life that can be very busy and isolating. And wasting time. Lots and lots of wasting time. Is it wasting time? or frittering away? Either way, lots of it. Probably a good thing that social networking sites like facebook are blocked at my workplace.
After becoming facebook friends, at some point in time, for some reason, you may no longer want that person to have access - you rethink your priorities, you forget who they are, you post some drunk dialing pictures you don't want your coworkers to see, you are no longer sleeping with them, etc - and then you need to remove their 'facebook friend' status, or "unfriend" them, by restricting their access to that of strangers. Easy to do. And people are doing it, and they are taking that 'unfriend" terminology off-line.
The Oxford American Dictionary just announced their word of the year for 2009, and it is "unfriend" (verb): to remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as facebook. Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford's US Dictionary Program, says "It has both currency and potential longevity... In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year."
I think this is a terrific word to add to our language; it is clear and crisp and direct. No hidden meaning - you don't want to be someone's friend anymore? You know what to do!
Don't want someone peeping into your life anymore? Unfriend them. Have a falling out with someone? Unfriend them. Don't want to ignore a facebook friend request from someone you don't care for? Confirm the request, then swiftly unfriend them.
Let's take it further, beyond facebook. Give us an Unfriend button in real life. Ugly scene with a coworker? Unfriend. Falling out with a family member? Unfriend. Give out your number to the wrong person at the bar last saturday night? Unfriend.
Even better - can I unfriend public persons from my life? Sarah Palin - unfriend. The cast of the new Melrose Place - unfriend! Anyone named Gosselin - unfriend!
That's beyond word of the year - that would be magical mystical fantastical power of the year!