Today is November 17th, the day declared by late night host Jimmy Kimmel as “National Unfriend Day.”
Kimmel feels that technology is getting in the way of real friendships, or is at least diluting the importance of the title “friend” by including people we only know over the computer. Computer people, who tend to do better with these kinds of interactions than “real life” ones, might be willing to argue otherwise, since online friends may have saved their asses more times over the years than ones in close proximity. Kimmel, in a speech on his show about the unfriending initiative, advises you to post a status update asking for help moving. Anyone who replies committing to moving your things, Kimmel says, is a “real friend.”
I’ve posted before about why I not only think that National Unfriend Day a bad idea, it’s unnecessarily mean-spirited and might cause you trouble down the line. While deleting a person with whom you have little contact with or disagree with politically may seem to be an okay action through the buffer of technology, remember that that’s a person over there- while they may not be your best friend, when they inevitably notice your defection from their online life, it will at best hurt their feelings and at worst lose you a future business contact or complicate a relationship. Furthermore, if you have a stable of online friends, how many times have you turned to them when all your “real life” buddies didn’t have time for you? Have you ever gotten an email, message or orangered that made you feel less lonely or unhappy after sending out a beacon of internet distress?
Kimmel is right in that the internet has made friends easier to come by. Anyone with enough time on their hands and a mouse can make friends, but discounting the ease with which we can up our friend count, many of these technological connections are very real and develop with time. So, before you get out your happy bahleeting axe, I’d urge you think a bit about why having online friends who have yet to prove useful is such a bad thing. Does your Facebook friend count detract from your life at all? Has having a contact on your Facebook page ever made your actual life more difficult? Have you ever had an online acquaintance develop into a close friend, significant other or spouse?
Have you participated in National Unfriending Day, or do you agree with Jimmy Kimmel that e-lationships are watering down relationships based on proximity? Conversely, have you been unceremoniously axed on this least friendly of days? Did it sting a bit, or could you not care less?