“To friend or to unfriend: That is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler on Facebook or Twitter to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous populace drama,
Or to click ‘Unfriend’ against a sea of troubles
And thus end them?”
Apologies to Sir William Shakespeare, but if he had lived in the age of the internet, perhaps the bard would have asked his famous questions this way in regard living life online. He was a pretty preceptive fellow, after all. Instead, Jimmy Kimmel asked those questions about 21st virtual life, then he made a national day out of it.
(I bet you never thought you’d see Jimmy Kimmel and William Shakespeare’s names used in the same paragraph, but there it is!)
Actually, as a comedian, Kimmel is an astute observer of human behavior, too. As such, he founded Unfriend Day in 2014 with the idea that we needed a judgment-free opportunity to simplify our online connections and combat the growing trend of amassing large amounts of ‘friends’ through social media outlets, many of whom are barely known to the account holder.
Dr. Jayson Dibble, associate professor of communication, teaches and researches about interpersonal and relational communication and how technology plays a role in both. He has co-authored articles addressing how Facebook affects romantic relationships. He is also able to comment on how Facebook and other social media have changed our society’s communication tendencies, priorities and, yes, friendships. Or, un-friendships.
Here’s something that Dibble wants you to think about before embracing Kimmel’s big holiday. “The thing is, unfriending doesn’t necessarily come without consequences,” says Dibble. “For example, although Facebook doesn’t intentionally notify users that they’ve been ‘unfriended’ by anyone, the unfriended will often learn of their fate through other Facebook features, such as when you show up (again) in their ‘People You May Know’ section. It doesn’t take long. Unlike offline relationships, Facebook doesn’t really let you simply fall out of touch with somebody.”