JoAna Swan recently purged her profile on the social-networking site Facebook of friends she hadn't spoken to for a while.
A week later, Swan, a 21-year-old student at Pace University in Manhattan, ran into a woman she had dropped.
Crammed next to Swan in an elevator on the way to class, the woman, an acquaintance from freshman year, called her out for "unfriending" her and asked what she had done to deserve it.
Swan considered saying it was an accident, but then opted to be honest.
"It's nothing personal," she recalls saying. "I just delete people I no longer talk to."
A week later, she ran into the woman again, and decided to refriend her because, says Swan, "she seemed very offended by the whole thing."
She declined to name the woman, noting that it would "make things more awkward and turn into another whole drama-fest."
Unfriending online "friends" is emerging as the latest offense in the world of social networking.
Sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow people to build personal profiles with photos, videos and up-to-the-minute updates about their lives, then to share them with select users, or "friends."
The process has even turned the word "friend" into a verb, as in, "so-and-so just friended me on Facebook."
Users agonize over whom to friend (your mom? your ex-boyfriend? your boss?), and worry about whether their friend requests will be accepted or ignored, lingering in cyberspace in what some dub "friend purgatory."
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