National Unfriend Day: Is It Time to Wield the Axe?

Last Updated Nov 18, 2010 9:56 AM EST

Perhaps you missed the news, but yesterday was a national occasion on par with such noted festivals as National Talk Like a Pirate Day and Better Conversation Week. Yes, it was National Unfriend Day! Did you celebrate?

For the uninitiated, National Unfriend Day is the brainchild of comedian Jimmy Kimmel. The holiday encourages social media addicts to trim their connections to those people who actually have your phone number. And it already has anthems in its honor and celebrity endorsements from the likes of Wolf Blitzer and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Next thing you know it'll be overshadowing that business with the turkey and the Pilgrims later in the month.

Joking aside though, does Kimmel have a point? Amidst all the admonitions to polish your personal brand and build your network online, have many of us crossed the line separating productive digital relationship building from old-fashioned time-wasting dressed up as a profitable business activity? Gizmodo, for one, is leaping happily onto the National Unfriend Day bandwagon:

The 'Book can be a wonderful way to keep up with people you might not otherwise have the capacity to, sans internet. But these specimens are so few and far between--rare sprinkles on a giant ice cream cone of social mediocrity and "Oh yeah, that guy... from that place..." memories. Kimmel's right--this ain't friendship, no matter how badly Facebook wants it to be.
It's unnatural. I don't want to look at my newsfeed and see a friend of my ex-girlfriend talking to some other person I never cared about, regarding an event in a city I don't live in and will probably never visit.... Zuck complained of "cognitive load" when he announced Facebook's new messaging service--but the real mental burden is placed on me because of this flock of marginal idiots, not my inbox number.
Facebook sucks up an inordinate amount of our time every day. So let's at least waste that time with people we somewhat care about. Today, let's all find at least one person you don't want to ever think about again, and hit "Remove from Friends."
Geekosystem, however, is a little more skeptical, noting that sifting through your friend list for people to delete might be just as much of a time waster as collecting this motley crew of connections was in the first place. Still, the question remains -- how much social media engagement is too much and where do you draw the line on whom to friend?

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user FredMikeRudy, CC 2.0)
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.