For every new, more convenient way to connect we’re given by social media, it seems a frustrating new etiquette trap sidles up right beside it.
Twitter was fun until spammers took root. E-mail provides a great way to communicate without having to be on the phone, but also engraves your errors and hissyfits as edicts that can be printed, forwarded or saved forever. Your mom joined Facebook and saw those tagged pics of you at the stag party before you had a chance to untag yourself. One trend I’ve seen strangely trumpeted and bragged about seems to be the “friend purge,” wherein someone gleefully goes through their contacts list, usually on Facebook, and happily deletes a number of people, usually with a follow-up message about how if you can read their update, you made the cut. Those with variant political beliefs, poor spelling or who are generally uncool, I assume, have not.
A social media marketing outfit in California is trying to snag some press by declaring September 1st through 7th “Delete a Friend” week on Facebook. Unlike the Whopper Sacrifice, no outside incentive is given, just encouragement to delete “annoying” people from your Facebook feed for enhanced security. There’s even a Facebook page you can “like” to show your support in randomly deleting your contacts. From their “about” section:
Delete-A-Friend Week. This fall, fall out of touch with 7 of your most annoying friends. Starting September 1st, join us in deleting 7 Facebook friends that drive you nuts. Maybe it’s that they never comment or maybe it’s because they write posts that are 19 paragraphs. Maybe they can’t spell or you know they are just lurking and trying to find out stuff about you. Either way, they don’t belong as your FB friend and it’s time to delete them. Let us know what made you decide to delete them as well.
While social media isn’t super important in the grand scheme of things, I have to say, this particular spin seems kind of distasteful. There’s nothing to be gained from being disrespectful and a little cruel over a slightly impersonal medium, and the “hide” function and privacy settings go a long way in politely quarantining your list. Do you periodically purge your friends list? Do you think that it’s necessary or nice to publicly talk about “defriending” people? Do you use an app like Defriended (opens iTunes) to keep track of those who have wronged you?