2009 Word of the Year: “unfriend”

This morning, my friend Tom (aka. “The Blogfodder”) sent me a blip about the New Oxford American Dictionary‘s 2009 Word of the Year, “unfriend.” At first I took it as wishful thinking on Tom’s part, until I heard a segment about it on MPR during my drive home.

Apparently the word has been around since at least 1659. But it has only recently gained new relevance as Facebook users have sought to shed unwanted “friends.”

Alas, now that “unfriend” has officially entered the modern lexicon, our friends on Facebook are debating whether the term should instead be “defriend.”

Whatever the best term may be, I got a sad reminder of its true meaning this evening, when I went to clear a week’s worth of photos from my memory card. Among the detritus I found this photo of my friend Uta and her dog Gretchen, which I shot just one week before Gretchen’s death.

Whether we eventually settle on “unfriend” or “defriend,” both are a sad reminder of our frailty—both as social and as living beings.

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