July 5: International Defriending Day

You might have heard about the recent Burger King ‘defriending’ campaign called ‘Whopper Sacrifice’, in which people were encouraged to break ten Facebook friendships in order to get a free Whopper in the real world. Defriending seems to be the new trend in 2009, because this year “is all about quality friendships, (…) as we all hunker down for a long, hard slog through this recession”.

The defriending movement even took the initiative to an international defriending day on July 5. ‘Defrienders’ argue that Facebook is bad for friendships, because it takes caring about your relatives to a too easy level. As a result, it makes people more and more regardless. Friendships become mediated by a form of media.

Mark Granovetter in his book ‘The Strength of Weak Ties’ explains how weak ties help spread information to individuals that are not accessible via strong ties. The problem to me is that while Facebook becomes an effective tool to manage those connections with people that are weak ties, it also creates the danger of making more ties weak. (…) Now, with Facebook and similar applications, we have reached a stage where it isn’t just about ‘having friends’ but ‘appearing to be friends’ not just to ourselves but to others in the network. Such applications then work against us.”

If you’re thinking ‘This guy is right!’, then move your virtual ass to Facebook and take part in the International Defriending Day. Make your friendships mean something and close your Facebook account on July 5, go out the door and talk to each other.