The Phantom Friend Phenomenon.

I am going to preface this post with the biggest, fattest “I KNOW” that you can possibly imagine.

I know that this post does not make me look like a mentally healthy, well-adjusted adult.

I know it makes me look narcissistic and basically a total loser with no real sense of perspective.

I know.

But here’s my excuse: I have this thing about numbers. If I see a number, generally, I remember it. Without even noticing.

And so, in the same way I can tell you the registration number of my old class teacher’s car, and my grandmother’s telephone number from 1980, I know how many Facebook friends I have. It’s just a number thing, not a memory thing – as evidenced by the fact I failed to remember to collect my child from school on several occasions last term. So I know my number, as it were.

I KNOW. I’m a narcissist.

But last week, I suddenly noticed my friend count had gone down by three. I knew I’d unfriended one person for posting something racist (gross) but I couldn’t work out who the other people were.

The next day, two more were gone.

Then two more.

Now, at this point even an Evil Overlord starts to wonder if they inadvertently ‘liked’ the Hitler Youth on their timeline. But I couldn’t see anything that was any more offensive than usual. I mean, I haven’t called anyone a Twunt on Facebook for ages, honestly. And yes, I did post a status update including the words ‘just nob off already, Friday’ but I thought that was quite tame, really.


So, I did an experiment. I exported my Friends list into Excel and then exported a historical list from an earlier point in my timeline.


Really, I do. I know. I’m sad. Sad and WEAK.  If it helps at all, I am quite literally overwhelmed with self-loathing and I’m having to self-medicate with M&S Very Berry cheesecake. But admit it – you’ve thought about doing the same thing yourself at one time or another, haven’t you?

Anyway, after all this, it turns out that the five people who have unfriended me? I have literally no idea who they are.

None whatsoever.

Their names don’t ring a bell, I don’t think they’re bloggers, they aren’t anyone I’ve ever met, and I certainly don’t remember conversing with any of them on Facebook.

Which begs a question: why on earth am I Facebook friends with people if I don’t know who they are?  I have three possible solutions.

a) They are special, free friends that Facebook gives you when you’re starting out so you don’t feel lonely

b) They’re phantom friends who never really existed, and have mysteriously vapourised into Internet dust

c) I am basically pathologically British and would prefer to accept someone’s friendship request on the Internet rather than say, “Er, who are you, again?” 


The answer’s C, isn’t it?

My name is Sally and I make friends with strangers on the Internet.



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