A recent column in the New York Times drew outrage after suggesting that amid the pandemic-induced shakeup of Americans’ social lives, people should “curate” their social circles as the nation gradually moves back toward some semblance of normal life.

Columnist Kate Murphy suggested such curation should weed out people who appear depressed, are obese, or engage in legal vices like smoking or drinking. Those friends, she said, make a person more likely to engage in said vices or to become overweight or depressed themselves.

“Indeed, depressed friends make it more likely you’ll be depressed, obese friends make it more likely you’ll become obese, and friends who smoke or drink a lot make it more likely you’ll do the same,” Murphy wrote.

However, the column cautioned against simply cutting the line with friends “having a hard time” and instead suggest the reader be cognizant of how much time they spend with which friends.

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Feminist author Roxane Gay criticized the Times on Twitter, writing that “this piece really wants y’all to stop hanging out with your fat friends so you don’t catch the fat.”

“To have the audacity to say this after a pandemic? Good lord,” replied one of Gay’s followers.

“What the hell, NYTimes – getting rid of toxic friends is fine, but that’s not what this says. It’s saying to get rid of fat/depressed friends? Is it ‘kind’ to get rid of friends just because of [expletive] that is largely genetics?” another Twitter user wrote. “Talk about being a step away from eugenics.”

Later in the column, the Times wrote that instead, being friendly with “studious, kind and enterprising” people instead of those with vices will make someone a better friend themselves.

Murphy continued by stating that only half of peoples’ friendships are mutual and that the pandemic has given an opportunity to shed “unfulfilling relationships.” 

“Research shows that only half of our friendships are mutual. That is, only half of those who we think are our friends feel the same way about us. Blame egoism, optimism or, perhaps, the fact that social media has turned “friend” into a verb,” she wrote. “COVID-19 provided an excuse to shed unsatisfying and unfulfilling relationships, while giving people the time and space to strengthen bonds with those they truly cared about.”

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This isn’t the first column by Murphy where she encouraged readers to have less friends. In an April column titled, “The Pandemic Shrank Our Social Circles. Let’s Keep It That Way,” she makes similar arguments on using the pandemic as an opportunity to shed unwanted relationships.

The New York Times did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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