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What's the Lesson in Jimmy Kimmel's National Unfriend Day?

Do kids these days really know the value of friendship? After all, sharing details of one’s life is as quick as the click of a mouse. Breaking off contact, at least over broadband, is just that simple too. Log on, click. You’re no longer BFFs.

Is that really how kids think these days? Jimmy Kimmel, who is not one of this decade’s foremost social commentarians, believes so. He has declared today, Nov. 17, National Unfriend Day.

The ponderous comedian with the so-so ratings thinks people spend far too much time on Facebook, collecting friends like Beanie Babies, and that we’re not only wasting our time but watering down the meaning of human connection. (I just  made that last part up. He hasn’t said much in terms of human connection other than declaring it impossible to have 500 friends.)

He thinks people should take some time on this first-ever National Unfriend Day, go through their FB friends list and “unfriend” anyone who isn’t actually a friend. But will this actually change anything? Can this teach valuable lessons in human interaction and meaning? I don’t think so.

I think kids are much smarter when it comes to FB than the rest of us who didn’t grow up online. I think they’re more refined semanticians than we give them credit for. They get the difference between friend and “friend,” even if their contact with the former is largely electronic. They also know that many fall into a very gray area — which is really not such a bad thing. That happens with flesh-and-blood acquaintances too.

Here’s another problem with Kimmel’s attempt to save humanity: if we and our kids are to get off Facebook and spend time with real people, why have us sit down and log on to Facebook? That’s just … more time on Facebook dealing with “friends” not friends.

Will you push your kid to unfriend her “friends”? Do you like the idea? Do you “like” it?

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Image: Tina Gill / PR Photos

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