The view from the cutting edge

A few weeks ago I wrote about the rejection of being unexpectedly removed from the friend list of a former (?) friend on Facebook.  At least I was using the correct term:

I was, as I correctly noted, unfriended.

(Well, I actually wrote that I was un-friended, but I’m going to call it close enough as makes no difference)

The New Oxford American Dictionary has decided that “unfriend” is their 2009 Word of the Year.  That the verb itself should be a part of a credible dictionary is no surprise — there are eleventy-billion users of Facebook and other similar social-networking websites, and the term for booting people from your friend list is widely used.  What’s interesting is that the dictionary made this their word of the year (and over similar electronic-media terms like sexting and intexticated) presumably on the assumption that social media were such a big deal in 2009 that they deserved the honour and recognition of getting some niche jargon celebrated.

Now that there’s an official, dictionary-recognised word for the act, I feel like it somehow legitimises the entire process.  It used to take a lot to make me remove someone from my Facebook friend list.  But, now that I don’t feel like I’m committing some back-alley behaviour, secretive and illicit, I think I might indulge a little more.  Like regicide, prolapseadumbrate, and other useless niche words, unfriend has become an accepted and dictionary-validated part of our lives.

I wonder if it’s poor form to friend someone you don’t like, just so you can unfriend them a moment later?

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