Science Explains Why You Keep Getting Unfriended On Facebook

Science Explains Why You Keep Getting Unfriended On Facebook

Most people get flushed for the vitriol in their post, but there’s an equally serious crime as vitriol that will also get you unfriended on Facebook in a hurry.

It’s not your oversharing of baby pictures, or the hundreds of photos of you being loved up, or even the incessant “inspirational” quotes you post that will get you unfriended on Facebook in a hurry.

It’s your political views (or at least, publicly voicing your political opinions) that will make you unpopular on the social networking site pretty quickly.

It seems voicing your opinions on politics isn’t just bad etiquette at the Christmas dinner table, it’s also very much frowned upon on Facebook. This could be the reason why you keep getting unfriended.


A New Yorker who asked to remain anonymous, for example, revealed that he purged his Facebook account after the last presidential election.

“It was a big deal to me,” he said. “I found it hard to be friends with people who didn’t vote for Obama.”

After which his friend posted, “I voted for McKinney.”

Airing your political views publicly will get you unfriended

According to researchers Nicholas John from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Shira Dvir-Gvirsman from Tel Aviv University, being unfriended for airing your political views publicly is not uncommon, especially when that happens in times of strife or conflict.


The researchers conducted an online survey among Jewish Israeli Facebook users between 3rd and 7th September 2014 (just 10 days after the Israel-Gaza conflict’s open-ended ceasefire of 26 August) to investigate the affects of political commenting. They found that while people are willing to be open-minded, those with starkly different views to our own are most likely to be blocked or deleted until at least after the conflict ends.

Social media users representing the Israeli population on Facebook were specifically asked about their political activity, ideological extremity and Facebook activity during the conflict. More than 1,100 Facebook users’ responded. The researchers found that 50% of the respondents reported being more active on Facebook during this time period and 16% of users unfriended or unfollowed a Facebook friend for political reasons during this time frame.

Interestingly, users who unfriended others were the ones more likely to be ideologically extreme and less supportive of free speech. The researchers also found that those with more Facebook friends were more likely to unfriend, indicating that having many weak ties allows for more unfriending.

“People unfriend people who have different political views to theirs,” John said in a statement explaining the findings. “More than that,” he continued, “these findings suggest that the people most likely to unfriend are younger, more politically active, more active on Facebook, have lots of Facebook friends, and have more extreme political views — these are important people in online discussions.”


Other reasons you’ll be unfriended

Two other studies led by Christopher Sibona, a doctoral student from the University of Colorado Denver corroborate the Israeli study that was published in the Journal of Communication.

The University of Colorado studies, which drew on a Twitter survey of 1,077 adults, investigated the psychology behind unfriending, as well as the emotional response of the unfriended. Study one found that acquaintances from high school are most likely to get the chop followed by friends of friends, work friends, and common interest friends.

Speaking about his study findings in a press release, Sibona said that we often wish to sever online contact with people who disagree with us about religion or politics. Since we’re most likely to diverge radically in perspective from those we knew in childhood, they get purged first, he said.

Moreover, real life shenanigans put work friends uniquely at risk and may cause you to be unfriended. “We found that people often unfriend co-workers for their actions in the real world rather than anything they post on Facebook,” said Sibona.


Study two examined the emotional fallout from being unfriended and came up with four resultant feelings: Surprised, bothered, amused and sad. A number of factors determine how unhappy or sad an Unfriended friend is likely to become in the aftermath of her demotion.

If you two once shared a close bond, she’ll probably be upset. If she monitors her Facebook friend list closely, that also enhances the likelihood she’ll suffer. A mitigating factor, however, is that if the unfriended seeks comfort from her remaining friends afterward, the study suggests she’ll feel better.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.


     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.


    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence


      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.


      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]


      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.


        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.


          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]



          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via


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