As proclaimed by Jimmy Kimmel—in defense of the real meaning of friendship—today is National UnFriend Day. You see that list of Facebook people you used to know and only marginally care about now? Let's give some the boot.
Kimmel's got a damn good point—Zuckerberg's metaphor for companionship, lust, and platonic palling is pretty meaningless for most people. Going through my own friend list—currently sitting at a relatively modest 607—I can see that those I've chosen to label as my friends might as well be strangers. Some of them I've taken deliberate means to lose "real world" contact with. Some of them I outright despise.
There's the girl I haven't seen since 2nd grade, so faded from my memory that I can't even recognize her from her profile picture—a cluster of drunken girls in a dark room, leaning on each other for support. I kinda wish I still knew her, actually!
Or the girl I formed a friendship of convenience with freshman year of college—"Hey, wanna go to the dining hall together?"—an individual so bland and utterly forgettable that, unless I check her profile, I have absolutely no knowledge of where she's from, what her last name is, or what she even looked like. She is an anti-person. And I have called her my friend.
Or hey! Hey you, friend of my friend who I've hung out with maybe two or three times in my life, and was always been kind of a pompous asshole! Remember the time I came to your house, that one time, several years ago? Do you remember a single thing about that time? Me neither! Do you think we'll ever hang out again? Probably not! You, you are my friend.
These are my friends, in 2010—and I haven't even gotten past the Bs. Sure, there are actual cherished homies in this list—people I know would stick their necks out for me, or keep secret my shocking tales of cowardice or immorality. You know, true friends. And 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. And you know what, guy I think I might have played lacrosse with seven years ago? I'm not accepting your friend request. I don't want to see your face. This isn't information that should be in my brain. 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.