Facebook study shows we get sick of old school friends before work colleagues

Disagreements in politics and religion were frequent causing for online break-ups, as well as posting boring content

Friends grow apart. It’s a truism that we all realise at some point in our lives, but new research suggests that it's on Facebook that this home truth is most evident

A new study from the University of Colorado shows that when we’re culling our friends list it's friends school (‘high school’ in the US study) that are most likely to get the chop.

The survey, carried out by doctoral student Christopher Sibona, found that the reason for these virtual break-ups was the same as you might expect in real life: people’s opinions mature and develop, and friends find that they're no longer interested in one another.

“The most common reason for unfriending someone from high school is that the person posted polarizing comments often about religion or politics," Sibona told Phys.org. “The other big reason for unfriending was frequent, uninteresting posts."

The study surveyed 1,077 people and divided friends into more than a dozen distinct types including “common interest friend”, “friend through spouse” and the somewhat vague category of “internet”.

From these groups, friends from secondary school were most likely to get the chop, followed by those from the “other” category, “friend of a friend” and then “work friends”.

Interestingly, while old friends were unfriended because of their actions in the virtual world (eg filling users’ news feeds with boring content) friends from work were more often unfriended because of something they'd done in real life.

Sibona also conducted a second study that surveyed people’s response to being unfriended. This showed that people were most likely to be surprised to an unfriending, while the reaction “it bothered me” came in second followed by "it amused me".

Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that people were more likely to have an emotional response to an unfriending based on how far away they were from “the peak of [their] friendship”. Users were also more likely to unfriend close friends than casual acquaintances – suggesting that the intensity of any given relationship is more likely to push it over the edge.

"Your high school friends may not know your current political or religious beliefs and you may be quite vocal about them," said Sibona. "And one thing about social media is that online disagreements escalate much more quickly."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
tv

News
VIDEO
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
news
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Web Developer - C# / ASP.NET - London - £55K

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Web Deve...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Support Analyst

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in providing best-in-...

    Recruitment Genius: Test Analyst

    £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower