A Tactical Guide to Avoiding Someone on Facebook

Illustration for article titled A Tactical Guide to Avoiding Someone on Facebook

Facebook has circulated a new video instructing users on how to block (and quickly unblock) an ex. This is a great start, but it's simply not enough, because everyone knows that when it comes to putting distance between you and that mouthbreather you once called your lover, there is nothing but breathy shades of gray.


I legit don't understand why Facebook has taken so long to address these real, devastating problems any sooner than now, and proof of how tedious it is to avoid certain people on Facebook lies in the many tedious steps outlined below. It is my sincere hope that this blocking video is a sign of more detailed instructional help to come.

If They Inspire a Low-Level Animosity

Some people don't inspire outright hatred but rather a kind of low-simmering irritation. Or you simply don't know them intimately enough to want to know about their upcoming surgery or which songs remind them of their recently deceased pet. This also includes people who haven't bothered to restrict their own posts among appropriate groups because they are either too lazy (moi) or too stupid (also moi), as well as people you had something with that is ending and need not to think about, but won't actually be crying over or anything.

However, your feelings—though real enough to merit the occasional eye-roll or low-grade heartache—do not include the wish to rid them from your network per se. You see them every day at work! You stopped hooking up but agreed to be friends! Etc:

  • Oversharers
  • Whimsicals
  • Braggarts
  • Extremists
  • Agitators
  • Relatives
  • Coworkers
  • Bosses
  • Person You've Ended a Non-Real Thing With But Still Have to "Get Over"


The answer is here is to definitely limit what you have to see of them, but also perhaps limit what they can see of you, if, say, you either don't want them commenting on your life, or don't want them knowing about it because fuck them maybe just a little? (Fuck them definitely scenarios will be covered later.)

To Get Rid of Them

Click on one of their posts and decide which of these three levels suits you:

  • I don't want to see this (hides that post from Mouthbreather only)
  • See less from Mouthbreather
  • Unfollow Mouthbreather
  • Turn off chat. Go to right-hand bottom side of Facebook, select the options icon, select "Advanced" and enter Mouthbreather's name under "Turn on chat for all friends except Mouthbreather."

P.S.: If you unfollow, but don't turn off chat, annoyingly, Facebook will still prioritize this chatter in your chat list if you chatted a bunch, because that list is based on frequency. You can re-order your chat list on Facebook mobile by swiping left at the bottom right corner, and clicking edit, and then dragging up the friends you chat with most, so Mouthbreather stays farther down and hopefully out of sight.

Another caveat (SEE?!?): If Mouthbreather was designated as a "close acquaintance" by you on Facebook (you got notifications whenever they posted anything), you will still get those notifications even after unfollowing them. To end this misery for once and for all, you will have to go to their profile and click on "Friends" up top, and then unclick "get notifications" because otherwise you are still gonna know when they've posted a latte/laptop/bowl of curry pic even if it doesn't show up in your feed. And then you're just right back in that hole, dearie.


How To Limit What They See of You

By Post: For people whom you'd rather not entice to comment on your more provocative posts (political nuts, misogynists, Debbie Downers, sadsacks, etc.) you can simply change the status of your post in the dropdown that says "Friends" or "Public" and exclude them from it, either as an individual or by creating a group and sticking them in it (like "Sadsacks").


Restrict Entirely: Go to the left hand side of your Facebook page, finding the section called "Friends," clicking on the "more" at the top right of the list, find the group "Restricted," click on it, then in the right hand corner of THAT page, click "manage list" which then allows you to add the Mouthbreather.

Says Facebook:

What happens when I add someone to the Restricted list?

When you add someone to your Restricted list, they'll only be able to see your Public content or posts that you tag them in. So if you put your boss on your Restricted list, post a photo and choose Friends as the audience, your boss (and anyone else on Restricted) won't see that photo. However, if you add a tag of your boss to the photo, we'll let them know they're in it and they'll be able to see the photo. If someone else tries to tag your boss in one of your photos, you'll get to approve this tag from your pending posts.


You'll want to do a quick check and view your profile as that person. Do this by clicking on the lock icon in the right hand top corner of your FB profile. Select "Who can see my stuff?" and then click "View as" and input their name. Voila.

Note that eventually said Mouthbreather is probably going to realize they are freshly limited from browsing your life when they visit your page and it seems as dead as a weekend at Bernie's. Or they might just think you are so sad and despondent after ending your non-thing that you have been reduced to social media blackout. Beware the possible in-person confrontation, but stick to your guns! This is your life.


If It's Over, But You Really Will Be Friends Someday

This isn't always easy to call, but generally you can feel that though something isn't working out, you're going to want to eventually be able to hang out. Usually that's because you're either always friends with exes, or in this case things ended so amicably, and so mutually, that there is no need for the more dramatic options of unfriending or blocking.



  • Unfollow
  • Restrict

Or don't restrict. This is key if you subscribe to the notion that breakups can actually be won. In which case, start posting some baller status updates of you looking amazing, attending sold-out shows, and eating at trendy restaurants, pronto.


If They're Heartbreakers and/or Terrible Assholes

Is he/she a liar? A misogynist? A raging dickweasel? Did the breakup wreck you because it involved a refusal to ever really throw in and serious dishonesty? Did he/she fuck your sister/brother/best friend? Is he always posting some vaguely sexist shit just to be a sexist dick? (If you want to get rid of all visible traces of your ex in photos and updates, that app exists, but remember, you have to remain friends with them for it to work.)



  • Unfriend
  • Block. Blocking sends a message. That message is "get the everloving fuck off out of my life plz."

Here is the Facebook video for how to do that, housed with Facebook's other instructional ideos. For the record, it's a cute video. I like these fresh-faced immature lovers.

If you can't watch the video: Go to Mouthbreather's profile, go to more, click on block. Or you might want to click "See Friendship" first and get one last sweetly sour remembrance before severing that tie. If you decide to quickly unblock, you'll have to act fast: Select more, then account settings, then scroll down to blocking, then hit unblock next to Mouthbreather, then unblock again. Whew.


If you're one of those people who doesn't need any of this—who can break up with someone or decide to take a break or just not talk anymore but somehow don't need to be super dramatic about it and do all this nitpicky limiting because you're just gonna live your life and get over it, well, then: congratulations, you're a superior human.

For the other 863,999,999 million daily users, we need this. Boy, do we need this.


Illustration by Tara Jacoby.


Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

Goddamn, I swear if not for how easy FB makes it to keep in touch with people I actually like, I would get off that shit in a heartbeat.

Google, why you gotta fail so hard at Google+?