By Sandra Quinn
Today, November 17, is National Unfriend Day – I know it’s not a regular international day of recognition and indeed is not a particularly nice one, but it does provide some food for thought about the social media saturated world in which we live.
This is a day, which logistically speaking, from a purely pragmatic view, would not have existed or even have been considered twenty years ago.
We now live in an age where our smart phones are our link to the world in more ways than one. They are no longer a device used to make and receive calls and texts – they are now our mobile office, our link to a global community much more vast than the one geographically local to us and much more besides.
According to figures from www.neworld.com – 89% of people in Ireland have access to the internet at home and 70% are online every single day, while teenagers spend up to nine hours a day on social media.
Does it shock you that 16% of people look at their phone more than one hundred times a day? Or are you unfazed and acutely aware of how heavily you rely on your own personal device throughout your working days or at home on your days off?
I think we all fall into one of those categories above and they are polar opposites of each other – either we are self-aware of our over-reliance on the technology at our fingertips or we are completely oblivious.
When Facebook was first launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Severin while they were in college, it was posited as a way to keep in touch with college friends without losing touch when everyone left campus and took on their own careers or went home to visit family during the holidays.
Since then, it has morphed into something much more vast. It now has its own advertising facets, acts as a marketplace for people to buy and sell items and is a hotbed for spammers, scammers and many more murky characters.
According to a study by anthropologist Robin Dunbar, people can only maintain a maximum of 150 relationships in the real world.
He studied Facebook users in the UK and found that in a study of 3,375 Facebook users aged between the ages of 18 and 65, people had 150 online connections through the social media network, but could only rely on 4.1 of them during a crisis, while a mere 13.6 actually express sympathy.
Younger people tend to add others as friends with whom they have tenuous or non-existent links to, while older people who use the platform as it was designed to be used, add friends that they really know from their actual social circles, often using Facebook to reconnect with old friends or keep in touch with family who are overseas.
In this way, many of us have ended up with a vast social network consisting of hundreds or even thousands of friends, many of whom we would walk past on the street.
If you find that you would not walk up to any of the people on your friend list and tell them what is going on in your life, where you are going on holidays or how work has been lately, maybe it’s time for a social media friend cull and by all accounts, today is the day to do the deed.
This National Unfriend Day, why not have a proper forensic look through your friend list and get going on hitting that unfriend button.
Are there people whose posts regularly irk you? Do you find yourself rolling your eyes every time you see their status pop up on your screen? Do they make a nasty or snide comment every time you post something about your life? If so, get rid of them, shut them out of your life and click Unfriend.
It can be seen as somewhat of a modern day cleanse – a way to detox from all of the toxic, nasty or selfish people who have wormed their way into your life or even just a way of eliminating veritable strangers from what should be your inner social circle.