National Unfriend Day, November 17, was created by Jimmy Kimmel to clear useless people off your Facebook friends list. We all can understand the urge, especially when our feeds are clutter with incessant whining and game requests.
But, before you do a total house cleaning this November 17, I urge you to take a step back and give it some more thought.
Personally, I don’t think you should ever unfriend anyone on Facebook. Of course, there are exceptions, like if you’re being harassed or someone is funneling your material to your boss (or ex-wife). I’ve only defriended one guy and that’s because he was inviting me to join racist groups.
Still, in the vast majority of cases, you shouldn’t be deleting people from your friend’s list. Here’s why:
Facebook isn’t just about friendships. In fact, most of my Facebook experience isn’t about traditional friendship at all. It is, however, about networking. Having several hundred people (or more) with whom you can have instant access is a huge asset.
Why people want to lower that number in today’s “it’s not what you know, but who you know” world is beyond me. Kimmel is a celebrity; unlike you he has all of the contacts he needs. Perhaps that person you just unfriended had the answer to your unemployment question. Maybe he has an extra ticket to the sold out concert you really want to attend. Who knows? Well, not you if you unfriend him!
Higher Numbers Show Social Proof
There’s a little thing called social proof, which says the more people like something, the more we perceive it as valuable. It’s why if you arrive somewhere early, you wait for others to go in first. We like safety in numbers. It’s what makes product endorsements successful. We feel we can trust the product if others approve of it first.
This works with people too. If you go into a club and see a guy surrounded by ten people, you can assume he’s pretty popular. You’ll likely want to see what he’s about. The same is true of Facebook. If someone has a few hundred friends, others will generally assume he’s pretty well liked. So, there’s no need to unfriend anyone. At least use them for social proof when others see your profile.
They Take No Energy
Keeping someone on your friends list takes absolutely no energy. In fact, unfriending them is actually more work. I’m not saying it’s all about effort, but why go through the hassle of actually unfriending people when they’re not really causing you any harm?
Keep those less desirable friends there, let their dumb statuses appear on your feed occasionally, and then, if you need them, spring into action. However, just keeping them on your list is no skin off your back. In addition, you can block them from your feed without actually removing them from your friends list.
So, this National Unfriend Day 2013, resist the urge to actually unfriend anybody. In fact, earn few extra points by adding those people whose friend lists have dwindled a little thanks to their uninformed former “friends.”