Dan Kois on Unfriending

Then one day I opened up Facebook and noticed that I had seven friends with birthdays. I wished a good work pal happy birthday!!!! I wished an old college roommate happy birthday!! And then I hovered over the next name in the list, a person I’d encountered during an informational coffee in 2006.


I didn’t care about this woman... this person couldn’t care less about me.

We've spent years now railing against the binary nature of the Facebook friendship. Inside Facebook's walled garden, there's none of the subtlety or nuance of human relationships that make our reality so rich. Either you're a friend or you're not. End of story.

We know this. And yet we still despair over the state of our news feeds. Sure, we can hide stories from people (and that does go a long way), and Big Blue tried to address the binary problem by allowing us to label friends as acquaintances, family, close friends, etc.

But digital fixes don't solve problems rooted in human behavior. Plus, it's hard to apply a nuanced solution to a binary problem. The solution is simple: friend less people. We can only manage 150 friends, anyway.

So why don't we heed this advice? Why do we still try to keep up with 1,500 "friends" when science tells us we can't? Why do we still lament the state of our news feed when we have the solution?

Because it's hard. It's hard to unfriend, because we fear a backlash, or we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. So consider today's read a simple reminder: it's okay to unfriend people.

The Facebook Cleanse