On Facebook, you can hide friends so that their status updates won’t show in your feed. Rob Walker is worried: what kind of friend are you if you decide that your friend’s half of the conversation isn’t valuable? Wouldn’t it be better just not to friend them? I am less concerned, for two reasons, one serious, and one legendary:
- “Friending” someone on Facebook is acknowledging a weak tie. Yes, you sat behind me in concert band in high school. You emptied your spit valve. I therefore acknowledge you as an acquaintance and accept your request to be a friend. I will look at your pictures. I will look at the pictures of your child in a bumblebee costume. I will see that you finished college. I will see that you have a new car. I will see that you crashed your bicycle. I will see that you need a sheep, cow, and pig for your Farmville. I will see that you like your vampire teevee shows. (I will carry your lip balm.) Hiding someone’s status updates is less like refusing to listen to an ongoing conversation and more like failing to seek out a former acquaintance to chat even though one is genuinely if momentarily happy to hear through the grapevine that the person is doing well.
- If someone posts LOLcats several times a day in 2010, it is morally obligatory to hide them. This is for their own good.