Every year the publishers of the New Oxford American Dictionary choose a word that sums up the mood of the last 12 months, and for 2009 they’ve selected Unfriend.
For anyone who doesn’t already know, to ‘unfriend’ someone means to remove them from your friends list on Facebook or other social networking sites. To achieve the annual honor, Unfriend beat out close runners up, Netbook and Sexting.
Unfriending someone is an emotionally strenuous thing to do, for both parties involved. The unfriender probably struggles for days or weeks with whether or not to pull the trapdoor lever. Once done, the act is final, and any whiff of a relationship that existed with the once-friend is probably gone.
The unfriended-friend will feel like s/he has been discarded, and will experience the same sort of emotions one feels when getting dumped in person. But it’s even a little worse because online you’ll probably never know the reason–just that you didn’t measure up to your once-friend’s standards.
In any case, according to the folks at Oxford that’s what 2009 felt like — an abrupt, emotionally unsettling letdown. Champagne, anyone?
By the way, unfriend is one of several words that will be added to the next edition of the dictionary, including “death panel”, “birther” and “tea bagger”. (no, the political kind. Jeesh)