National Un-Friend Day This Wednesday? No Thanks.
238 friends. That's how many Facebook friends I have, and I admit that use of the word "friends" is exaggerated. But if my friend count drops by even one, I take it personally.
Who un-friended me? Why on earth would someone un-friend me? Is it something I said? Did my status, or a photo of me offend someone? That number has been increasing, slowly, since the day I joined Facebook. I'm a little hurt if that number decreases.
If I examine the list closely, I discover that only 9 friends are family members, a few dozen are past or current colleagues, and the number of people I consider very close friends is certainly in single-digit territory. That leaves a significant number of people that are unaccounted. Maybe I could afford to whittle that friend list down a little. But I hate to see that number get smaller!
Jimmy Kimmel has declared November 17th "National Un-Friend Day." He's called on William Shatner and Dr. Oz to join in his crusade, and says that somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of your Facebook friends aren't really your friends. He's right, but I'm conflicted. Kimmel suggested drawing a line in the sand and eliminating anyone you would not lend $50. If you wouldn't cry at the news of someone's death, he says you can afford to un-friend them.
I enjoy some of the insights I get into others' lives from reading their status updates. Even updates and photos posted by people I barely know, or don't know at all can be entertaining. To me, it's an ever-changing snapshot of what people are talking about right now. I'll pass on Kimmel's advise.
That's not to say that some of the things relayed on Facebook aren't annoying. CNN recently published a list of 12 types of Facebook users than can quickly become annoying:
Here are 12 of the most annoying types of Facebook users:
The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore. "I'm waking up." "I had Wheaties for breakfast." "I'm bored at work." "I'm stuck in traffic." You're kidding! How fascinating! No moment is too mundane for some people to broadcast unsolicited to the world. Just because you have 432 Facebook friends doesn't mean we all want to know when you're waiting for the bus.
The Self-Promoter. OK, so we've probably all posted at least once about some achievement. And sure, maybe your friends really do want to read the fascinating article you wrote about beet farming. But when almost EVERY update is a link to your blog, your poetry reading, your 10k results or your art show, you sound like a bragger or a self-centered careerist.
The Friend-Padder. The average Facebook user has 120 friends on the site. Schmoozers and social butterflies -- you know, the ones who make lifelong pals on the subway -- might reasonably have 300 or 400. But 1,000 "friends?" Unless you're George Clooney or just won the lottery, no one has that many. That's just showing off.
The Town Crier. "Michael Jackson is dead!!!" You heard it from me first! Me, and the 213,000 other people who all saw it on TMZ. These Matt Drudge wannabes are the reason many of us learn of breaking news not from TV or news sites but from online social networks. In their rush to trumpet the news, these people also spread rumors, half-truths and innuendo. No, Jeff Goldblum did not plunge to his death from a New Zealand cliff.
The TMIer. "Brad is heading to Walgreens to buy something for these pesky hemorrhoids." Boundaries of privacy and decorum don't seem to exist for these too-much-information updaters, who unabashedly offer up details about their sex lives, marital troubles and bodily functions. Thanks for sharing.
The Bad Grammarian. "So sad about Fara Fauset but Im so gladd its friday yippe". Yes, I know the punctuation rules are different in the digital world. And, no, no one likes a spelling-Nazi schoolmarm. But you sound like a moron.
The Sympathy-Baiter. "Barbara is feeling sad today." "Man, am I glad that's over." "Jim could really use some good news about now." Like anglers hunting for fish, these sad sacks cast out their hooks -- baited with vague tales of woe -- in the hopes of landing concerned responses. Genuine bad news is one thing, but these manipulative posts are just pleas for attention.
The Lurker. The Peeping Toms of Facebook, these voyeurs are too cautious, or maybe too lazy, to update their status or write on your wall. But once in a while, you'll be talking to them and they'll mention something you posted, so you know they're on your page, hiding in the shadows. It's just a little creepy.
The Crank. These curmudgeons, like the trolls who spew hate in blog comments, never met something they couldn't complain about. "Carl isn't really that impressed with idiots who don't realize how idiotic they are." [Actual status update.] Keep spreading the love.
The Paparazzo. Ever visit your Facebook page and discover that someone's posted a photo of you from last weekend's party -- a photo you didn't authorize and haven't even seen? You'd really rather not have to explain to your mom why you were leering like a drunken hyena and French-kissing a bottle of Jagermeister.
The Obscurist. "If not now then when?" "You'll see..." "Grist for the mill." "John is, small world." "Dave thought he was immune, but no. No, he is not." [Actual status updates, all.] Sorry, but you're not being mysterious -- just nonsensical.
The Chronic Inviter. "Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Which 'Star Trek' character are you? Here are the 'Top 5 cars I have personally owned.' Here are '25 Things About Me.' Here's a drink. What drink are you? We're related! I took the 'What President Are You?' quiz and found out I'm Millard Fillmore! What president are you?"
A few of my 238 friends fall into some of these categories. OK, maybe more than a few do. But I still have no plans to un-friend anyone this Wednesday. I will however, make sure that each time I update my status I will try to stay out of annoying territory, so as not to be classified by any of the above labels.