The essential art of Facebook culling


There was a time when I had over 1000 friends on Facebook. And to be honest, I find that thought both terrifying and embarrassing. The fact that that is now relatively common on Facebook? Even more so.  

Perhaps an element of this phobia is to do with the internet safety that was drummed into all our twenty-somethings during our school days. Be careful who you speak to online. Be careful how much you tell them. And yet somehow MSN felt a whole lot more safe then the stuff we have to deal with these days.

Anyway,the second element to the phobia is this. How many people on your Facebook friend feed are actually friends? You cannot physically be friends with over 1000 just...can't. It would be impossible to sustain and manage so many healthy and thriving friendships. It would be impossible to provide people with your energy and expect that many people to be able to return it. If you have over 1000 friends on Facebook,in fact if you have any number of friends on Facebook, I can almost guarantee that over half those people you would not stop in the street to talk to.

For me, it boils down to the fact that in life I hope the friendships I sustain are healthy, good and strong. I hope I am of support to people, and I hope I can find support from them too. I hope that we surround ourselves with good energy. But I also know that friendships come and go, new people come and go, and things change constantly. Few friendships are meant to survive forever and Facebook prolongs that. 

Facebook makes it impossible to avoid your ex boyfriend, that girl you didn't like at school, or that one acquaintance who you're secretly incredibly envious of. On Facebook, you cannot say goodbye to these relationships in the same way you can in life. IRL you can just focus more on the positive people and give your energy toward that. In online world, everyone is on the same level field. 

So that is the method of my culling. I'm almost always confused by people's offence at being "unfriended" from Facebook when we haven't said more than two words to each other in years, and probably never will. It can't always be healthy to look back at friendships that have gone by. It's got to be healthier to look forward.  If I wouldn't even say hello to you in the street, I delete you from Facebook. If I wouldn't be social with you in real life, then count me out for doing it over such an intimate medium as Facebook.

And it means that my Facebook feed is now full of interesting and personal messages from true friends and people I actually care about. It's no longer a cluttered, stressful place which throws up old, tired memories to stress over.  It's...personal,to me. And surely that's what Facebook is all about.