Social media makes it easy to connect with people we might not otherwise connect with (or stay connected with). Friends of friends. Exes. The guy who sat behind you in 10th grade geometry. Facebook can connect anyone. But does Facebook make it too easy to end friendships?
You might hesitate to march up to someone in person and declare that you don’t want to be their friend anymore, but if you’re a Facebook user (and who really isn’t a Facebook user?) you can dismiss someone with a click of a button, and it might be weeks or months before they even realize it.
More: 10 Social media mistakes so bad they got people fired
If you’ve decided to be Facebook friends with someone, hopefully you see value in the connection and you’re not randomly removing people from your life just because social media makes it easy to do so. That’s not to say social media purges aren’t ever necessary, but it’s best if you put some thought into your pruning.
Consider keeping these 12 people on your friends list:
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right?
2. People who disagree with you
People disagree on social media over issues like presidential candidates, professional sports and breastfeeding. Why cut ties with someone who stands on the opposite side of the fence, even if it’s an issue you’re passionate about? People who think differently keep us thinking. No matter where you stand on an issue, a closed mind is a bad thing. Don’t get sucked into believing the rest of the world should think exactly as you do.
3. Your mother-in-law
If you friended her in the first place, it’s probably unwise to turn back now. This is a good rule of thumb for all family members. If you don’t have a “family policy” on social media, now may be a good time to think about that.
They keep you young. C’mon: How else would you know what “on fleek” really means?
Back in the day we used to crouch by the hedge and eavesdrop. The digital age has brought nosy neighboring to the next level. You may not love thy neighbor, but you certainly want to know what they’re doing because… well, because you’re nosy. If you’re Facebook friends, you get all their dirt from the comfort of your home.
6. The fitness freak
Yeah, her constant plank challenges are annoying, but you never know when motivation will strike you.
7. People in your industry
As a writer and wannabe editor, I’d never unfriend fellow writers, editors or anyone in publishing. Even if there’s no close connection, you might miss opportunities by severing ties with someone who could give you a job.
8. People you’re connected with on other social media
If you’re connected with someone on Instagram and Snapchat and suddenly decide they don’t make the cut for Facebook, you might send a message about the friendship that you don’t mean to send. You might have good reasons for streamlining how you connect online, but take a minute to consider the consequences when cutting ties on one channel and remaining connected on another.
9. People who live in really cool places
Always consider location. You might want to maintain ties to friends living in London or Honolulu. Maybe you’ve lost touch with them. Maybe you don’t really like them. Maybe their #blessed status updates annoy you, but if you ever get to visit these cool places, wouldn’t it be helpful to have the local scoop or a friend in town?
10. Former classmates
There’s something to be said for longevity, even if you no longer have much in common. We get more nostalgic as we age, so if you’re thinking of cutting off that girl from eighth grade you never interact with — don’t. You never know when the “remember when” urge will strike.
11. The obnoxious traveler
The plethora of airport check-ins, first class selfies and the “look at my awesome vacation” status updates may seem pretentious (probably because they are) but who will you call the next time you’re planning a trip? Probably this person. Keep the obnoxious traveler at arm’s length online, but if you unfriend her, you may deprive yourself of a good resource.
12. Food picture girl
If she posts picture after picture of yogurt and there’s no other compelling reason to keep her as a friend, maybe cut ties. But if she regularly shares restaurant snaps, keep her around. When you need a recommendation for a Thai place or the best deli? She might be your girl.
These are all compelling reasons for staying connected to people that annoy you online. Also, Facebook has options: You can remain connected to someone while hiding their status updates and curate interest lists to see the content you want. Check it out.