Monday, July 18, 2011

Managing Facebook friends

Some people measure their Facebook experience by how many friends they have. I measure my experience based on how many people engage me in semi-regular conversation, even if it's indirect conversation (friend to another friend - also known as eavesdropping).

There seems to be a bit of a social stigma associated with adding and removing friends on Facebook, to the point where some people don't know how to say 'no' to a friend request (is that even possible?!), nor do they know how to de-friend someone. I joked online yesterday about someone de-friending me in broad daylight (as in - they announced publicly via a feed comment that they were 'FB friends - OFF'ing me due to something I had said which they found offensive), but the fact is I don't really care if I have been removed from your list of friends. It's your list. If I don't measure up anymore.... too bad for me. I might be disappointed, especially if I enjoyed your FB feed, but I won't take it personally. Let's not even call it de-friending. Let's call it what it really is - house cleaning.

Here is how I manage my own FB friends (not including family members - they are permanent list members). I go through my friends list every few months and ask these simple questions:

1. Has this person said anything to me on FB in the last couple of months?

2. Does this person update their FB status regularly, thereby updating their friends (and consequently - me) regularly?

3. Does this person keep their FB feed output relatively spam-free? In this case, I use the word 'spam' to describe anything related to the enrolment, milestones and invitations regarding other Facebook apps and games.

4. Is this person a member of one of my FB groups?

If the answer to at least one of these questions (preferably two) is 'Yes', then I keep them on the list. Otherwise I may elect to remove them. If you're not engaging me in semi-regular conversation, not commenting on anything I post, not updating your feed with news about your life, then what is the point of being your Facebook friend? I don't keep telephone numbers of people I never talk to on the phone in my contact list on my phone. Although some people take de-friending as a personal affront, I think this is a mistake. But sometimes, removing someone from the list is overkill. For starters, it is possible to keep FB friends around in case they want to message you or comment on something, but you want to simply remove their constant ramblings about their cats or how well they're doing in Farmville. This is easily accomplished by filtering your news feed. I'm joking of course, I love hearing about your cats. Farmville.............. not so much.

Keeping my news feed clean and relevant is the reason I ended up deleting all of my 'likes' from FB too. At a certain point, my feed got jammed up with junk about the music and authors and other interests that I liked. Not cool.

At the end of the day, I like my news feed to enlighten me with relevant news about people I engage with and there's no better way to achieve this than by trimming the friend list a little. I have even been known to remove people from the list only to add them again later - so removal is not necessarily permanent. But just because we added each other on FB at some point in the past doesn't mean we're FBBFF. All friendships, especially my online ones, are subject to re-evaluation. That may seem cold, but it's really just prioritization of time. Because once you get to my age, you have to try and wring out every ounce of value from every minute of every day. It's nothing personal.

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