I am trying to remember the name of a short story someone told me about. Basically the premise was that things people don’t love or think about disappear; at first it’s bad things like trash but then people start to disappear so everyone becomes obsessed with asking people if they love them so they won’t disappear too.
"Do You Love Me?" by Peter Carey
Things are mysteriously disappearing:
The next day the I.C.I building disappeared in front of a crowd of two thousand people. It took two hours. The crowd stood silently as the great steel and glass structure slowly faded before them.
It is only the things that are not loved that are disappearing:
The world, according to my father, was exactly like the human body and had its own defence mechanisms with which it defended itself against anything that either threatened it or was unnecessary to it. The I.C.I building and the I.C.I company had obviously constituted some threat to the world or had simply been irrelevant. That’s why it had disappeared and not because some damn fool god was waking up and rubbing his eyes.
“I don’t believe in god,” my father said. “Humanity is god. Humanity is the only god I know. If humanity doesn’t need something it will disappear. People who are not loved will disappear. Everything that is not loved will disappear from the face of the earth. We only exist through the love of others and that’s what it’s all about.”
And the story ends with asking "do you love me?":
My mother looks across at me nervously, a card still in her hand. “Do you love me?” she asks.
Found by Googling
scifi short story "not loved" disappear, which led me to a description of the story and the title, which I then searched for to find the actual story.