Everyone has lost friends in their life. The reasons can vary greatly from a tragedy to simply growing apart, but recently you can lose a friend with the click of a button. This is an entirely different dynamic for relationships, which is why researchers at the University of Colorado Denver have studied how 'unfriending' on Facebook can affect people.
To collect the needed information, the researchers got 582 survey responses through Twitter and noticed some interesting trends, when it comes to whether 'unfriending' on Facebook translated to 'unfriending' in real life. Half of the respondents said they would not avoid someone in real life if that person unfriended them, but 40% said they would. (The other 10% were unsure.) Women were more likely to avoid whoever unfriended them, which the researchers do not have an explanation for. They did however find numerous predictors for if someone will avoid the 'unfriender,' including if the person believes the unfriending is due to an offline behavior.
While it may seem silly to study online activity such as this, there are definite consequences of unfriending someone, including making them feel excluded. Such a feeling can reduce self-esteem and one's sense of belonging, amongst other negative effects.
Source: University of Colorado Denver