Don’t You Dare Unfriend People Right Now

Bad move — here’s why

You’re feeling a powerful urge to purge your Facebook friends, right? Not only do some of your friends and family embody everything that is wrong with America, but you really don’t want to watch their post-election victory lap. Or their post-election mental breakdown, as the case may be.

Don’t unfriend.

At this point, it’s safe to assume that we’re all getting our news and points of view from sources that confirm our own biases. Few of us are willfully exposing ourselves repeatedly to writers or news sources with which we fervently disagree. That means you might offer your friends one of the few reasoned, compassionate opposing points of view they ever get to see. When you unfriend, you lose an opportunity to affect the world.

One of the tools we have as citizens is the ability to influence each other through social media. Research shows changing minds with information is possible. Additionally, with social media, there is always the chance your back-and-forth will influence a third party who stumbles across your discussion and is blown away by your eloquence.

Turn off Facebook for a while. Hide people you don’t want to see. Maybe wander the empty halls of Google+. But don’t cut people off. When you unfriend someone, you limit their exposure to new and challenging information. (And limit yours as well.) This decreases the chance they will ever change their mind, further calcifying their view, which as we all know is just so wrong it’s like how are they even alive and a person oh God I want to unfriend so many people right now but I won’t. I won’t.

UPDATE: A coworker brought up a good point. If someone is threatening your life or has promised to harm you physically, yeah, you should unfriend that person. I am talking about philosophical disagreements in this piece — differences in ideas. Threats of physical violence are a different matter.

 Joe Donatelli is Senior Writer at Los Angeles magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @joedonatelli and Facebook. He wrote: We Have Never Been More Proud to Live in California.