This is the second time for me to be laid off, so it's based on two separate experiences when I say this: Being laid off helps to shake your network of people, both personal and professional, allowing you to reconnect with the ones that really matter and fade out the ones that don't. You almost don't need to do anything except telling everyone that you are laid off: you then just sit and wait to see who shows up at your door and who stops showing up.
We all tend to accumulate things--books, DVDs, pens, online IDs, or even relationships. And even if they were all good and relevant when added to the collection, they may not be still good and relevant today. Some of them might have been useless and unnecessary from the beginning. (I already have a lifetime supply of pens, but somehow I can't seem to stop getting more.)
So it's not a bad idea to clean up every once in a while. But while it's not so complicated to sort and discard unnecessary books and CDs, it's usually not that easy to clean up your relationships --unless you are laid off and people around you do the clean up for you.
I was fascinated by this process the first time it happened. It was very insightful because my guess wasn't always correct. Not everyone that I considered close to me stayed on; while some that I didn't stepped up. And after the shake, I felt happier and more secure, knowing that the ones left in my circle really cared about me. It also became easier because my time and attention didn't need to be spread out so thin anymore. It became manageable and actually worth managing.
As I go through yet another shake up, I'm finding another element, too. It's adding new ones to my circle. I don't know how many of them would actually stay on for a long haul, but one thing that I can say is that these are the ones who opened up to me when I'm jobless and nameless. It's kind of like making friends while in college: no agenda, no taking advantages, just because. Maybe not quite that good, but it definitely beats being friendly with coworkers that you can't personally respect.
I have to add this to my list of advantages being laid off. Most definitely.