This employee profile is from UNCW’s ‘We Are UNCW’ series and was posted on January 30, 2018.
Christopher Sibona, assistant professor of information systems, has a lot of experience with “unfriending,” a social media phenomenon he has studied since 2010.
He became interested in the concept after an acquaintance of his wife removed her from a list of friends on Facebook. Sibona conducted numerous studies on the subject while he was a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Denver.
“I developed a survey at the right time and people were willing to tell me a lot about unfriending,” he said.
When he mentions the possibility of psychological distress people may experience from being unfriended, some say that those who find themselves unfriended are taking social media too seriously. Sibona counters that it really depends on the strength of the relationship. Being unfriended by your mom, best friend, child or another close personal connection can be traumatic.
While he feels that users should generally feel free to post what they want on social media, it may be best to steer clear of certain topics and behaviors to avoid being unfriended, Sibona’s research shows. Posting too much about uninteresting items, inappropriate topics, politics and religion are major causes for unfriending.
“The 2016 election season may have changed the way we view social media," he said. "Where some have used the technology more, others are now taking a break.”
Sibona, in his second year at UNCW, previously spent 20 years as a software engineer. “I try to leverage my industry experience in the classroom by adding nuance to the standard text material. I also get to pursue my dream of being a standup comic every day in class by trying out new material.”
Outside of the classroom and social media, Sibona enjoys reading, cooking and playing the ukulele. He is also interested in how design thinking and the focus on user experience is changing information systems development.
Find out more about his research here.
-- Caroline Cropp