Comedian/talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, declared November 17th "National Unfriend Day." The premise of this savvy declaration entails an opportunity for Facebook users to carefully examine their likely bloated list of "friends" and glean the proverbial dead-weight wherever possible (a seemingly painless task that, in reality, can include pitfalls galore). Considering that many become Facebook "friends" via connections that are often tenuous-at-best, the unfriending process might easily occupy an entire week, rather than just a day on account of sheer quantity. With the status quo being to "friend" anyone and everyone, a relationship established via six degrees of separation can often be considered close-knit (five degrees of separation or less constitutes eligibility into one's wedding party), making the decision to remove one from the friend list quite vexing. Who knew that dissolving a virtual friendship could be such a complex ordeal?
Virtual Passive Aggressiveness:
Facebook is a sincerely sensational tool for honing and exercising one's passive-aggressive tendencies. And given its popularity, passive-aggressive behavior has mutated into an epidemic; so much so that disputes among nations will conceivably be declared by way of a Facebook post in the near future. Inter-nation quarreling aside, the possibilities for practicing passive-aggressive behavior among friends are endless.
If you're experiencing difficulties with your next-door neighbor, alert your Facebook friends (via what's known as the Facebook newsfeed) to your plight rather than actually confronting the issue (such a thing could include messy dramatics, and often adult-like consequences). Eventually, the tidal wave of sympathy you receive from empathetic Facebookers will eclipse the deafening drone emitting from said neighbor's stereo.
Moreover, those having relationship problems with a particular individual (specifically infidelity within the realm of that game known as "love") can utilize the site as their own emotional soapbox. Simply let it be known through posting a melodramatic tirade that a certain philanderer's antics are unconscionable. Said philanderer's identity shall remain anonymous for the sake of passive-aggressiveness, but is easily identifiable to even your mouth-breather friends due to the poorly disguised, perfunctory proclamation that could only apply to one particular individual -- as you're not likely complaining about your mother when referencing the deplorable state of the modern male.
And finally, if one is looking to sever any sort of relationship in its entirety, they need not exert a smidge of energy beyond the click of a mouse. Such an exertion will effectively "unfriend" any poor sap (a legally binding action in all 50 states) who is undoubtedly oblivious to the rationale behind the dissolution of the relationship. So it's deemed win-win for everyone according to passive-aggressive doctrine. But, in all seriousness, where's the fun in such a practice?
Let the Evidence Demonstrate...
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perception), if you participated in Jimmy Kimmel's national holiday yesterday, the former friends you axed are likely oblivious to the fact that they have been effectively "unfriended." And if one isn't aware of their non-friend status, they certainly have no idea what incited someone to strap them to the virtual relationship guillotine. Since we are living in a society, the least we could do is provide a pithy explanation. And furthermore, it sounds like quite an enjoyable endeavor for the unfriender.
Perhaps Facebook could make it simple for the end user by including template messages with each request to unfriend someone. A rudimentary example being:
"Dear Timmy: you've been unfriended by Billy due to the fact that, despite only meeting on one occasion during the Carter Administration, you insist on sending those insufferable invitations to assist you in building a make-believe pigpen for your virtual farm. You do so incessantly and without regard for societal norms that exist in real life (a world you might consider visiting from time-to-time). Therefore, you are officially no longer deemed "friends" with Billy. Grievance counseling is available for those with health insurance via the following link..."
Now that wasn't so difficult, was it? One might argue this is how relationships are meant to be terminated. No fuss, no muss. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. And without the potential for one's message to be misunderstood in translation (not to mention elimination of the potential for an overly dramatic retort on the part of the unfriended -- the popular example being suicide). Truly, you're "no-longer-friends" should consider sending you a gift basket or thank you note for exhibiting such courtesy.
When Applied in Real Life:
One might take Kimmel's sage holiday idea a step further by eradicating absolute passive-aggressiveness in the real world, where real relationships supposedly exist. You might make dissolving a marriage the equivalent of passing a cleverly-folded paper note (equipped with a pull tab) in grade school. But instead of circling "yes" or "no" regarding a casual make out session after recess, you'll simply be deciding the fate of your marriage by hitting the de-nuptial button provided via Facebook. There shall no longer be such a thing as divorce lawyers once this practice takes effect. Consequently, billboards advertising "$250 for Divorce, Bankruptcy, or IRS Difficulties" (all of which seem closely related) will no longer be visible on the streets of Manhattan. But don't believe for a second that this holiday's everyday application concludes with divorce.
Your 40-year-old son, bereft of employment and living at home (likely waiting-out your eventual demise in an effort to occupy your home and inherit your assets once-and-for-all), could be catapulted into adulthood with the press of a button and a template message: "Thanks for ensuring our eternal regret for neglecting to use a prophylactic on one damn occasion. Your bedroom has now been converted into a library. Don't call us... we'll call you... maybe."
Side Bar: Facebook Etiquette as It Applies to Contemporary Friendship:
Regardless of the magnitude of one's friendship, there is really no need to be privy to the intricacies of their newborn baby's tendency to projectile vomit, nor the status of the baby's potty training regiment. And it's really nobody's business if you're a sperm donor, or detect an unknown funk emitting from the hobo sitting next to you on the train, or have mixed feelings about the severity of your ingrown toenail (any medical condition, from the mundane tummy-ache to the scientifically unidentifiable strain of bird flu, should only be fodder for one's doctor, priest/rabbi, or spouse that has yet to be divorced). And let's halt the periodic updates on the status of the recession of your hairline. We know you're hanging on to those remaining strands for dear life, and we're proud of your efforts. But participating in a discourse on the topic is more intolerable than rolling around, bare-butt naked, over shards of broken glass for several hours.