Un-friending on Facebook – The Top 5 Reasons I Decided to do a ‘Facebook Cleanse’


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:

  1. 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’.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. ‘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.’

  1.  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.

  1. Men’s Health Magazine
  2. Metro, UK
  3. Mail Online

5 thoughts on “Un-friending on Facebook – The Top 5 Reasons I Decided to do a ‘Facebook Cleanse’

  1. I agree and do the same thing. If I haven’t spoken or messaged one of my Facebook friends in months or years, why should they be on my friends list!? I don’t need them to know details of my life when they are not part of it. Great blog and can’t wait to read your next entry!

  2. This is absolutely true and it’s time for my annual Facebook cleanse as a matter of fact. There was a report of a young man, I believe he may be from Australia that made his Facebook cleanse a bit of a journey through the past. He decided that he would actually invite and meet up with each and every person on his friends list that he was considering deleting. During their coffee date, he had a list of questions that he would pose to each person, such as; where/how did we meet, how long have we been “friends”, how often have we seen each other in the past year etc. After reviewing the answers as well as catching up, he would inform the person of his decision which was often mutual, whether or not they would remain as Facebook friends. He was making notes on each and every encounter for a blog or a book he planned to write if I am not mistaken. I found this to be quite interesting, time consuming, but interesting nonetheless.

    When Facebook was launched, it was almost a competition to see how many friends you could get but as mentioned in your post, this is no longer safe, it wastes time and can be annoying! I have one question for you, do you feel guilty about not accepting some of those friend requests from people that try to re-add you? Furthermore, when a “new” friend tries to add you, do you decline it if not interested or leave them in limbo because you don’t want them to know you don’t want to be Facebook friends? I guess that’s two questions!

    • Hello – Thanks for your reply. To answer your question I don’t feel guilty (at all) not accepting friend requests – that said….they are usually people I don’t know well and will never run into. So far, I feel so much lighter and freer since I did my cleanse. I don’t know if it matters if you leave them in limbo or if you delete the request – I don’t think they get a notification either way? Or do they :). I have known a few people who publically wrote on their wall that they were deleting friends they don’t talk to anymore….I think most people usually understand.

  3. I have also unfriended people in the past, I can’t say I have actually cleansed my account but I have unfriended people who I knew did not care about me or my family but wanted to watch what I was doing in the background. I am sure as time goes by I will unfriend a lot of the people I friended this summer but I am not ready for that. Most of my facebook friends are family, close friends and coworkers so we share some sort of a bond with each other.

  4. Thanks for the post. It made me think about my past habits, not of ‘unFriending’, but of accepting ‘Friend’ requests. My general rules seem to be a) if I didn’t like the requester in the past (usually high school) then, I’m not interested in connecting years later, b) If the requested hasn’t bothered to put a profile photo and/or isn’t really posting much as I think it is about mutual sharing to some degree, and c) I have no idea who the requester is even if we have a few mutual Friends; those are the easiest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.