Over the last year I’ve reduced my Facebook “friends” by about 50% (from ~1,500 to a little over 700) and I’m still working on lowering that number. This week I unfriended (which is now a real word) another 100 and it set off an interesting online debate primarily because I went public with my action:
While others look at the psychology of being unfriended on Facebook my decision was primarily driven by the fact that I had missed important and personal updates from friends (i.e. real friends not Facebook “friends”) due to an overwhelming number of ‘vote for my guy’, ‘believe in my God’, ‘buy my product’ and ‘this inspirational quote will change your life!’ posts.
I had come to realize that I am connected with way too many people which negatively impacted my Facebook experience.
As I continued to ponder, specifically about who I should be “friends” with on Facebook, I asked myself:
1. Had I *reciprocally* interacted (a like, comment or email) with that person via Facebook in the last 12 months? Maybe I’m old fashioned but if I share my life, including photos of my kids, and send emails and comment/like a “friends” posts and I get nothing back something is amiss.
2. Am I one of 5,000 “friends” they have? If I am there’s no way they’ll ever see anything I share so why are we connected in the first place?
3. Do I want to be social (using the good old fashioned definition of that word) with them in the real world? Put another way “If I saw you in a bar and you hadn’t seen me would I walk the other way or buy you a drink and have a chat?”
#1 and #2 on my list accounted for 90% of the disconnects. One thing that surprised me; the number of friends (1 in 4) that had deactivated their Facebook account entirely! Facebook still details deactivated accounts under your friend list by the way; I can’t help but wonder why?
Yes, I know there are lists and I can block people and content but isn’t that missing the point? Isn’t spending time working out what content should be shared with what people just a little too much effort? If I block you, again, why are we connected at all? I like a simple life; profiles are for friends, pages are for business.
Let me be candid for a moment; like many people, I have been confused and in some instances upset when a person disconnected with me via Facebook. And of course we find out after the fact. What did I do? How did I upset them? Don’t they like me anymore? Questions we all ask but of course it’s never as simple as that. For me I wanted to make Facebook more personal, not more “social” (whatever that means today). Most supported my action but other’s criticized:
“I just don’t understand anyone’s need to point out they have [unfriended people].”
“Who cares what someone thinks about how YOU use YOUR Facebook (or any other) account”
But we do need to talk about the new and awkward problem of unfriending someone. And the number of comments and likes I got on my post suggests many do care about how to use Facebook. One obvious takeaway; the definition of “friend” has changed.
Ironically some will call my actions anti-social. It’s ironic because for me Facebook is now a far more personal place and that makes it a lot more socially fulfilling.
I can’t and won’t tell anyone how to pick their Facebook “friends” but you do need to give it some thought.
And so to this video. You might not agree with my stance but do consider not only with whom, but what you share on Facebook. I’m going to continue sharing photos of my kids, Foursquare check-ins and personal thoughts with my friends (no quote marks). And for you? Just be vigilant…