Commentary

Women Find Facebook Friends Annoying

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Gender stereotypes are great for stirring the pot, and this opportunity is too good to pass up. It seems a large proportion of women on Facebook report finding many of their online friends (or perhaps that should be "friends") annoying, according to a survey of 400 women by daily deals site Eversave. Gawker.com notes that the Eversave survey was originally intended to help understand the market dynamics of daily deals on social networks -- but the stuff they found about women secretly hating their Facebook friends was too hilarious not to publish.

Overall 84% of women Facebook members said they found some aspect of their Facebook friends' online behavior annoying, according to Eversave, which went on to document a whole range of reasons. 65% said at least one of their Facebook friends shared too many mundane posts; 46% said at least one person "likes" too many posts; 40% said at least one person uses Facebook to promote causes inappropriately or too frequently; and 40% said at least one person projects false information or images of a perfect life.

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But wait, there's more! 63% said they're annoyed by Facebook friends complaining all the time; 41% by Facebook friends posting political views they disagree with or find irrelevant; 16% by people always posting updates about their children; and 32% by Facebook friends bragging about their perfect lives.

Wow, that is certainly a lot of ambient hostility floating around Facebook. I can't say I'm totally surprised, however, since I have been assured by any number of female friends that "women are meaner to each other than men," often followed (when I try to laugh it off) by "no, really: you have no idea." Admittedly, the Eversave survey results don't specify whether these annoying friends are also women, but I'm going to guess they make up a large proportion of the offenders.

On that note, I'd like to suggest a new Facebook feature: the "Shun" button, which serves the opposite function as the "Like" button, but for people. The best part is it would be invisible to the person who is being ostracized, so they don't even know they're being shunned!  But everyone else totally knows and gets to secretly revel in their shared hatred of them.
9 comments about "Women Find Facebook Friends Annoying".
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  1. Kevin Burke from WholesomeOne, March 31, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.

    These statistics are not compelling when the respondent is asked, "at least one person". Seems to me the intent here is to make woman appear catty. Irresponsible.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 31, 2011 at 3:59 p.m.

    "Shun" button? Have you not seen the "hide" option on your wall??! Hover your cursor to the right of the post and a drop-down menu allows you to anonymously hide the posts of a friend (or "friend").

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 31, 2011 at 4 p.m.

    Correction: Hover to the right of a wall post and click the X that appears and you can "hide all" by the offending user.

  4. John Jainschigg from World2Worlds, Inc., March 31, 2011 at 4:04 p.m.

    This is very droll (especially the part about the 'Shun' button), but interpreting this data in a trivializing way also constitutes rather a slap to women, and misses an opportunity to examine things about social media that cause stress to users of both genders and diverse sensibilities.

    I think what we're seeing here is less evidence of high levels of female anger, and more evidence of the fact that women are culturally conditioned (and perhaps biologically attuned) to take the notion of friendship seriously, to value social approval and validation, and to assume an obligation to participate in social exchanges -- i.e., to listen, to recognize and in some sense (if only emotionally) to react to stimuli and competitive dynamics arising within a friendship pool; as well as to "share" with others their reactions, as often out of a desire to support as a desire to magnify hostility.

    Social media, of course, screw this up -- first by vastly expanding and adulterating the notion of 'friendship' (to where it comes to mean: my friends are whoever's on my friends list) and then by blending pools: real friends, social acquaintances, business acquaintances, family, random friends from childhood, potential hookups, and people you don't really remember at all but clicked Accept on anyway because you didn't want to be rude.

    This deprives the friended individual from any normal recourse to spin, segment, compartmentalize, or prioritize but leaves them with the obligation to react. And like as or not, what a lot of people use social nets for is to broadcast gripes, likes (with their attendant apparatus of class, consumerism, lifestyle, fashion, "in-group" membership, etc.), recent accomplishments (with their attendant apparatus of competition and threats to self-validation), changes in mating status (ditto), family updates (guilt, competition, ditto), advice (oy, don't get me started), and other statements-about-state-and-preferences all carefully calibrated by the sender to make a certain kind of beneficial social impression. People (of either gender) who feel any obligation to react in any way to 95% of it are going to be driven crazy.

    Most adults eventually figure out that an optimal social framework for mental health involves a spouse, kids, surviving family (only because you can't lose them without appearing rude), about four authentic friends (max), and a few more-remote social circles of activity like 'neighborhood' and 'kids' school community,' plus the inevitable personalities and politics of work. Any more than this and you have High School again: an environment where lots and lots of people, all in relatively-unformed states and with significantly-untried potential jockey for position and identity while taking one another way too seriously. Almost everyone remembers this as a formula for misery ... as sad news reports have made increasingly clear, it's often-enough a formula for suicide, violence, and other forms of carnage. And none of this is unique to women.

  5. Mac McCarthy, March 31, 2011 at 4:25 p.m.

    Jainschigg's comment is very interesting, rich, and insightful. Thank you.

    Our activities-oriented social network, Zenergo, aims exactly at segmenting your social circles -- your alumni friends in one group, your work friends in another, your family, and each of your activities -- church, winetasting, poker, tennis, baseball, movies. No overlap unless you want it. I'm jazzed to see from John's analysis that we could be onto something!

  6. Marvin Macatol from Virtual Sidekick Philippines, March 31, 2011 at 5:42 p.m.

    Unless one deliberately wants feeds of all friends to appear, Facebook has set as default the display of feeds from people with whom one interacts with the most -- this means, one clicks "Like" or leave a comment, and the person *actually* responds. Deliberately ignoring a friend's "Like" or comments will put him/her slowly down the priority list.

    (This has a downside though. I used to monitor the feeds from a Page without really participating in the posts there. That Page disappeared in my Feeds. When I changed the setting to "All of my friends and Pages" that Page reappeared to my delight.)

    Of course there are "Hide" or "Report/Block this person" options that are readily available, but not as conspicuously displayed as the "Like" button, for very understandable reasons.

  7. Cece Forrester from tbd, March 31, 2011 at 6:38 p.m.

    Oh, I'm almost never annoyed by anything that happens on Facebook. Can you guess why?

  8. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, April 1, 2011 at 4:46 a.m.

    The worst thing about Facebook is the way it will report your activity on everyone else's wall by default. That means, if you flirt with 10 women with the same comments and the same linked or uploaded images, then all those women and everyone else you know will see a News Feed with those 10 flirt attempts lined up behind each other and dominating their news feeds.

    QED: Facebook is the Mother of all Tattle Tales. Facebook is a "friend" that betrays you incessantly - until you learn to shut off activity reporting, which is murderously hard to do.

    In this regard, Facebook is not a friend of males. It's built to catch "cheaters" - and maybe that has something to do with the COO being a woman. ;)

    Not that I've ever used it for flirting myself mind you.

  9. Cynthia Edwards from Razorfish, April 24, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.

    I enjoyed this article for its humor and also, dare I admit it, I have experienced a few of the reactions listed above myself. However, as with everything in life, one must approach Facebook posts mindful of their context. It's a freewheeling quasi-anonymous forum where people say things they might not say face to face. Facebook seems to strip off a layer of that self-governance that normally saves us in social situations.

    The shun button concept is funny - thanks! We really do need more types of reaction buttons on Facebook, but as with everything we commonly desire ... there is already an app for that.

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