Dear Ex-Facebook Friend…

Dear Ex-Facebook Friend…

bye bye 287x300 - Dear Ex-Facebook Friend...

UPDATE: Thanks to you all for your overwhelming support and sharing of this post on Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, there have been a couple of people who read this post and been concerned that this was a letter written to them specifically. This is *not* the case. It was inspired by a very real exchange with someone on Facebook and the excerpt from my email below is verbatim, but please take this for what it is – an example which highlights how we have different ideas about how best to use social media and how we define what type of conduct is appropriate for members of our own networks.


Dear Ex-Facebook Friend,

You’ve crossed the line. As with all things virtual and social, it’s hard to say exactly where that line is, but I sure do know when someone comes rushing across it.

I use social media for business and for building my network of connections. Granted, I’m more “me” on Twitter and Facebook than I am on LinkedIn, but I do not use social media to share every last detail of my life (which, truth be told, is pretty darn dull).

Online, I very much adhere to the adage “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Even if I feel I’m in the right, using social media to publicly call someone out reflects poorly on me (plus, there’s that whole online-content-living-forever thing), so why would I do that? I really try to focus on the positive and prefer to talking “with” people, rather than “at” them, whether online or in person. Your results may vary, but I find that most people appreciate this. Maybe it’s just me.

It isn’t so much about what you posted to my Facebook wall as much as it is about the fact that you posted it publicly in the first place. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me when someone seems to feel so comfortable judging someone else (about whom they had no real information) and deciding it is appropriate to impart wisdom that the other person (in their estimation) was lacking. I don’t mind that you have opinions about things. Quite the contrary; these opinions, perspectives and experiences are what makes each of us interesting and engaging.

After I responded to your public wall post through a private email, your reply escalated my discomfort and led me to further clarify by adding…

I would never challenge someone in public. I use social media to share news and build relationships with people, not question their motives or decisions. It is not my place to judge others and should I feel I have some input which would be helpful, I would address it privately.

We needn’t agree on how social media is to be used. That is the beauty of it. We can tailor our use to meet our own style and needs. One of the things my connections can count on is the respect to support them online and that I’ll know when to take it offline if I’ve got anything else to offer. I know many agree, but also many who don’t, which is why I’m connected to just the former.

I’m not at all saying that my way is right or better. It’s my way and that’s what matters. It’s my network and it’s up to me to build, nurture, shape and prune my relationships as appropriate. It’s up to me to draw that line where it feels right. I hope you continue to do the same and find what works best for you.

Wishing you great success,




  1. Cath July 26, 2009 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    I could not agree more. I dont have a business agenda with either twitter or facebook, its my diversion in the main. I enjoy both in different ways though I err more towards twitter of late as I like the challenge of using limited words to make comments or interact spontaneously.
    I like to keep things pretty frivilous but think others use it to post their stronger views and impose on others, for me thats a line stepped over and sadly breaks down that fluid communication at times.
    The code of conduct for both Facebook and Twitter has yet to be realised by some it seems…

    • Irene Koehler July 26, 2009 at 1:46 pm - Reply

      The tough thing is that a code of conduct, both online and off, is a relative concept. We all think our actions are reasonable. There is nothing wrong with that as it allows each of us to find those who seem to “fit” and offer value in accordance to our individual style.

  2. Dinneen - Eat Without Guilt? July 26, 2009 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I too believe when using social networking it’s about building positive relationships and one should speak positively, be uplifting and pleasant. My goal is to motivate, inspire and help others in any way I can.

    Unfortunately, some people will at times use social networking as a way to vent or be heard. Guess in a world where everyone can easily be seen or heard (online) sometimes people forget that it is “social” networking & one needs to act just as they would in a social setting, so to speak.

    On another note — I like the new look of your site!
    .-= Dinneen – Eat Without Guilt?´s last blog ..Monica Seles and Her Biggest Opponent ? Food =-.

    • Irene Koehler July 26, 2009 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      Hey, Dinneen. Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts. Maybe the people who use social networking to vent or be heard are indeed acting as they would in a social setting. It’s hard to know, but the good news is that we’re able to focus on the people and content which offer us the most value.

      And, thanks for the feedback on my site. It is the genius work of Kimberly Beaven (Twitter: ). She’s a gem and expert coder!

  3. Maureen Sullivan Stemberg July 27, 2009 at 11:37 am - Reply


    Great job in trying to use your obvious *diplomatic* skills. I too believe when in doubt do the right thing! The good manners, we use offline should apply to online.

    I am sending this article to all my friends (offline & online). It is a great piece that addresses the topic of etiquette online.

    Maureen p.s. I echo the Dinneen remark about your new look for your website.

    • Irene Koehler July 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Maureen. I truly was trying to be fair, while still holding firm to my ability to build a community which works best for me. Being “fair” and “right” are concepts defined in the eye of the beholder. I’m guessing the recipient of my email (an excerpt of which is cut and pasted verbatim above) didn’t see it that way.

  4. AnnaLaura Brown August 15, 2009 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    yes I agree. When someone posts something that I do not agree with or that I do not find to be correct, I never make negative comments. If I feel that I could make some constructive criticism then I will email them or message them on Facebook so that it is private. Public negative comments do not serve anyone.

  5. Heidi August 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Love this article. I just posted a link to it on my Fb page. Wish I could send it out retroactively to several exfriends who crossed the line.
    .-= Heidi´s last blog ..An Afternoon with Big Bertha =-.

    • Irene Koehler August 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Heidi. If you ever have the need again, it’ll be right here. 🙂

  6. Jaculynn Peterson August 23, 2009 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Hi Irene,

    Thanks for sharing this piece –> a silver lining culled from a passing dark cloud. Kudos for taking a negative situation and transforming it into something beneficial for yourself and others.

    I, too, was recently challenged publicly [on Twitter] as the result of “one Tweet” stating my opinion about TechCrunch’s publishing of the Twitter docs. A follower said I was “inauthentic” and announced that she was unfollowing me.

    Personally I would never call someone inauthentic for having an opinion. It’s actually quite the opposite –> it’s being authentic.

    Anyway, the point is this: These types of challenges and public displays often have less to do with the receiver’s negligence and more to do with the giver’s state of unhappiness, bizarre envy and/or desire for attention.

    Therefore, it’s best to take it offline and handle privately because the value to the community is not apparent.

    Thanks again for sharing.


    p.s. Your new site is quite exceptional – for many reasons. Congratulations!

  7. […] Dear Ex-Facebook Friend […]

  8. […] a Twitter Direct Message or a Facebook private message instead. Being public about a private matter can end friendships, so the stakes are […]

Leave a Reply