I’m not as popular as Facebook made me believe

by Francis Wooby on August 11, 2010

Every since a Facebook/Real Life friend of mine began talking about his culling of Facebook friends in order to make the community more relevant to him, I’ve been reflecting on my own collection of connections on this site. Having an account for several years, I was around when you added people simply because you had a connection of some kind, and you were both using Facebook. Novelty, pure and simple; but not much beyond that. As a result, I realized that there were a lot of people listed whom I never interacted with beyond accepting their friend request, or having them accept mine.

I’m sorry, that is stupid.

Other than voyeurism, I saw no point in hoarding these connections with people I never spoke to, visited, etc., and who had no real interest in (re)connecting with me either. If you’ve been paying attention, I like to be fairly honest and occasionally less-than-tactful on my FB profile, so it became increasingly unnerving having a whack of lurkers reading my posts, looking at my pictures, etc. It’s not that I want to say anything particularly damaging or incriminating, but I do want to be able to conduct myself within FB to some extent how I would conduct myself in a room full of friends. Someone I kinda knew in, but haven’t seen since high school ended almost 15 years ago is not someone I think of as a "friend." Frankly, my experience on FB was taking on a creepy vibe.

So, rather than allow Facebook (and the larger Internet) to impose it’s revised meaning of the word "friend" on my, I decided to take it back by culling my network to better reflect the reality of my relationship with the people in it. Those of you left reading this on my profile are people I actually interact with with reasonable frequency and in a meaningful way. Nothing against those of you cut. I hope that someday Life crosses our paths again; but in a more organic,and genuinely engaging scenario. Facebook is just not the place for that, at least not for me.

And of course this is all about me, my preferences, my needs and my conception of friendships and the value I place on them. Facebook is many different things to many different people, and I do not for a second portend to have the "right" understanding of how and why it should be used. Some people prefer to not only add anyone they’re even remotely connected to, but actually seek out new friends and acquaintances on Facebook–which is, in fact, more in line with the "networking" aspect of "social networking." There is no correct or incorrect way of thinking about social networks, which is the beauty of them.

For me, though, I needed to do some serious reshaping of my own Facebook community to again make it a place where I can feel comfortable. I guess I’m not all that social after all.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan August 11, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Count me in.

Megan August 12, 2010 at 8:39 am

Heh. By “count me in”, I of course meant that I am joining you in your effort. Not that I should be on your personal list if you change the way you want to use Facebook. 🙂

Bob Goyetche August 13, 2010 at 8:47 am

Good for you!

Strange that we feel we almost need to apologize for dropping people we barely know. There are too many posts about how to add meaningless connections to online networks. And all for what? If you’re trying to sell a product or service I guess there’s some (perceived) value in the number, but if you’re an actual human, it doesn’t scale.

I’d rather have 25 real connections than hundreds of “people I met once, except for those I didn’t”..

The take away from this is do what’s right for you, and you’ll get what you need out of this stuff…

You’ve got me thinking about doing some pruning myself…..

Francis Wooby August 13, 2010 at 9:04 am

Bob, please don’t prune yourself, man! You’ve got so much to keep growing for!

Seriously, thank you very much for the comment.

Facebook is just one of those online (and off-line) spaces where I’ve found myself accumulating a lot of contacts/articles/pieces/items that I’m just not using enough to warrant keeping. Too much of my time was going into trying to manage, or just getting distracted by these huge piles of addresses, names, numbers and other things.

In the meantime, I stopped actually doing productive stuff and talking to people in a meaningful way. It’s as if I was perptually walking saying “Hello” and “Good day” to lots of people without ever getting anywhere or getting interacting any deeper than a basic greeting.

But again, some people might thrive in a every-expanding online/real world network. Like you say, “do what’s right for you, and you’ll get what you need out of this stuff…” At this point it’s too early to tell if this move was even the right one for me.

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