It became clear to me after writing my first two blogs about privacy and security in social media that I needed to clean up my ‘friends’ list by doing what’s called a ‘Facebook cleanse’.
When Facebook first hit the mainstream in 2006, we were ‘friend requesting’ anyone and everyone. People who I went to elementary school with suddenly appeared out of the blue with promises of reunions. It was a good way to see what people were up to, share a few laughs about the past and move on. It seemed that ‘friending’ people quickly evolved from ‘quality of friends’ to ‘quantity’ forcing the virtual definition of the word ‘friend’ to take a new meaning.
Here are the top 5 reasons I decided to tighten up my ‘friends’ list:
- It’s not Safe
As mentioned above, security has become a really big issue for me. When I share pictures of my children online I want to make sure I am ‘sharing’ them with people I know. This is not a foolproof system but, by deleting people I don’t really know, it limits the risk.
When I was deleting ‘friends’ from my list I used the basic rule: “would I go for a coffee this person”? “Is this person going to be a part of my life in the future”? If the answer was yes to either of these questions I kept them as ‘friends’.
- It Wastes Time
I found myself spending too much time reading status updates from people who are not a part of my life. Not only is this a wasteful, time consuming process…it’s strange when you actually see this person face-to-face and you know their whole life story. They go to tell you that they just got married BUT you already know this — along with what they wore, who they invited and where they honeymooned — because you saw it on Facebook!
Many experts recommend culling your friend list once a year to remove total strangers and other hangers-on. By keeping the numbers of your ‘friends’ down, it gives you the opportunity to focus on the people who really matter to you. Instead of reading status updates from strangers you can instead focus and comment on the posts from people who really do matter to you.
- You Wouldn’t Talk to Them at the Grocery Store
You wouldn’t talk to this person in the grocery store …so why are you following their daily lives on Facebook? In a recent study, 34% of people admitted they have Facebook friends they would ignore in real life. This actually happened to me…where a Facebook ‘friend’ and I walked right by each other. We were not trying to be rude — we simply had nothing to say. You have to ask yourself the question: “why would share your life with someone you wouldn’t stop to talk to in the street”? Again, cut the superficial threads and attend to the relationships that really matter.
- ‘Friends’ or Foes?
Interestingly, the average person has 287 friends on Facebook but only 10% are considered actual friends (3). The majority of people we are calling ‘friends’ are really more like acquaintances.
A recent study revealed that 58% of people keep Facebook ‘friends’ they don’t like so they could still see their photos and statuses, and find out what they were up to (3). I find this particularly disturbing as Facebook gives nosey (not necessarily well-intentioned) people a way to spy into your life.
George Charles, from VoucherCodesPro, says: ‘It seems with the results of this study, the old saying about keeping your friends close, but your enemies even closer, is definitely alive and well even in today’s society with our reliance on the internet.’
- It’s Annoying
In recent studies, people admitted to deleting people who bragged too much about their life and/or who posted too many ‘vanity’ selfie pictures. Other things that pushed people to delete ‘friends’ were ‘attention seeking sad posts’ and ‘angry ranting posts’ (2).
As I was deleting ‘friends’ these above considerations did come into play. There were a few people that were cut because I realized their posts were draining me.
In the end, I deleted about a third of my ‘friends’ list and it was a surprisingly hard thing to do. I did have some regrets and even went back and re-requested some friends (a bit awkward) but overall I felt good about the changes I made.
Some believe that deleting people on Facebook could hurt you both personally and professionally. They argue that the web is so interconnected that people can see your information whether they are a ‘friend’ or not. They also feel that every person you delete on Facebook is one less networking opportunity (1).
For me the reasons above strongly outweighed the potential networking opportunities. I feel more open about sharing with my ‘friends’ on Facebook and feel like I have more time to read the posts from people who really do matter to me.
- Men’s Health Magazine
- Metro, UK
- Mail Online