Making Facebook Interactions More Purposeful

Feel bogged down by your Facebook interactions? I hope my story will encourage you to make your Facebook interactions more purposeful!

Making Facebook Interactions More Purposeful - TheHumbledHomemaker.com

 Last week, in an effort to create more boundaries in my life, I deleted nearly 500 Facebook friends in the course of one afternoon.

I’m an extrovert. I thrive around people. They energize me. But, like many areas of life, there can be too much of a good thing.

And Facebook friends may be one of them.

Why did I delete so many friends?

It’s something I had contemplated doing for a while, but my tendency to be a people pleaser–and just plain fear of hurting people’s feelings–had kept me from doing it.

It’s not that I disliked anyone that I deleted. To the contrary, I have fond memories of many of those people. But my personal Facebook page had become too crowded, too cluttered.

Why I Deleted Facebook Friends

I believe each person is important. Every individual possesses extreme value.

I’ve always wanted to be that friend–that person that anyone could come to and feel accepted, loved and welcomed.

But I’m learning that perhaps I am not to be that person for the entire world.

Because when I open myself up to allowing too many people a “seat at my table,” it crowds out the places for those most important–my family (especially those not on Facebook–aka my children) and my close friends.

I’m getting out of survival mode.

I’m currently reading Crystal Paine’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. In it, she talks about whittling down your commitments, focusing on your priorities and eliminating time wasters.

For Crystal, it took deleting her personal page all together.

That is not the answer for me right now. We live near my parents, but the rest of our family and many of our close friends are scattered all over the U.S. as well as in several different countries.

Facebook serves as an easy way to connect with them, to share pictures, to open a window to our everyday lives.

But not everyone we meet should have access to that. And when so many acquaintances are filling up my newsfeed, I miss those who are most important. Those who really matter.

Does Facebook really help connect you to your friends?

image by Simon

Deciding who to cull and who to keep:

I made this decision quickly. I didn’t mull over it for days or even hours. Because it was something I had contemplated in the past, I knew that now was the time.

Facebook doesn’t make it easy to delete friends. You have to delete them one-by-one. But, really, it does not have to be a long process. Laying a few ground rules–a few boundaries–before you begin the deletion process, will help you to cull more quickly.

1. Decide what the purpose of Facebook is for you.

Do you want your personal Facebook page to be a list of your close friends and family only? A place where you share intimate moments and pictures of your kids–with those who love you the most?

Or do you see Facebook as merely a networking tool? A place where you keep up with every single person you have ever met–just in case you ever need the contact again?

Or, is Facebook more of a way to keep up with blogs you read, while you use other social media platforms–like Instagram or LinkedIn–to form personal connections or network?

None of these are wrong, but you have to decide for you what purpose Facebook serves. For me, it’s a combination.

And when people delete you, remember that their purpose for Facebook may be different than yours.

How many Facebook friends do you have?

image by geralt

2. Decide the parameters under which you will delete friends.

This is key. These boundaries helped the deletion process go much more quickly than if I had hemmed and hawed over each individual before deleting them.

My personal parameters for those I deleted included:
  • old acquaintances: These included former classmates, co-workers, church members  and anyone else whose relationship with me in the past didn’t go beyond a surface level. Since I no longer live in the same area as these people, it is very unlikely that our paths will ever cross again. But, if I ever need to contact them for any reason (or vice versa), we have enough mutual friends that I know we could find each other.
  • old boyfriends/men I had crushes on in the past: I feel silly and embarrassed to even be bringing this up! But it’s something you may want to consider. I really only dated one other guy before my husband, and it was in high school. BUT, since I did have romantic feelings for him in the past, it’s not really honoring to my husband for me to keep him as a friend, you know? The same goes for any men that I had crushes on in the past. I’ve been married for nearly 9 years now, and even though certain crushes never went to a mutually romantic level, there is absolutely no need for me to have that “friend” from college as a Facebook friend when I know how I felt about him back then.
  • husbands of my friends: This was the easiest category for me to eliminate. I figure if I’m friends with the wife there is no need for me to be friends with the husband as well. This was not a legalistic thing, but, rather, an easy parameter for me to create in order to help cull as quickly as possible.

Deleting Facebook Friends

image by Hans
My personal parameters for those I kept included:
  • family: This even included distant family, like second cousins.
  • close friends: This was a no-brainer. I want to be friends with my, you know, actual friends on Facebook!
  • current colleagues in my profession: Bloggers and writers frequently communicate. Not only do we encourage each other, but we also collaborate on joint projects and just brainstorm on how we can best serve you–our readers. I did not keep every blogger I have met (whether online or in person), but I did keep those with whom I communicate most regularly.
  • current acquaintances: These are church members or others local to me that I may not know well now but want to get to know better and may become closer friends with in the future.
  • good friends from the past: These may not be my closest friends but they are people like those who sat on the newspaper staff with me in college or were in my Bible study, etc. Even though we may not ever be physically present in each others’ lives again, these people were more than just acquaintances in the past, and, for that reason, I want to keep the lines of communication open.
  • those with whom I don’t have many other friends in common: During my late teens and all throughout my twenties I traveled the world on mission trips, meeting many amazing people along the way. Some of these people would be very hard to locate in the future since we have no mutual friends. And, for that reason, they made the cut.

Why I Deleted 500 Facebook Friends  thehumbledhomemaker.com

3. Decide what you will tell people if they ask you why you deleted them (because some might).

Tell them the truth. Refer back to #2 to the parameters you set. Be sure to let people know it’s not personal. Do realize that some people’s feelings may be hurt.

But ask yourself: Do you care more what acquaintances think of you for deleting them than about how your kids feel when your time is sucked up by meaningless Facebook interactions–instead of time spent with them?

4. Commit to using these same boundaries before accepting (or requesting) new friends.

I don’t want to find myself in the same situation I was before–being friends with so many people that I didn’t even know who my news was reaching. Again, it was crowding out those who matter the most.

5. Repeat this exercise as often as necessary.

Perhaps you want to make it a goal to have no more than 100 friends on your personal profile–or 50. Continue to trim down your friend list until it represents the people who fulfill the purpose that Facebook serves for you.

how to delete facebook friends

This is the method I used to delete Facebook friends in an effort to make my Facebook interactions more purposeful.

My husband uses a simpler way: He deletes people on their birthdays if he doesn’t know who they are or doesn’t desire to have contact with them now.

Another friend, Beth from Red and Honey, recently deleted everyone except for those with whom she would like to meet for coffee (barring limitations of location).

People will constantly move in and out of our lives–and that is OK. I often think about how Laura Ingalls and those in her generation did not have the option of hanging on to so many relationships for years on end. And I think about how much simpler her life must have been because of that.

How often do you find yourself in meaningless debates or even just browsing photos of acquaintances’ babies while your children sit in front of the TV watching a movie? I know I’ve been there way.too.much.

One of our themes here at The Humbled Homemaker is simple living.

Whittling down your Facebook interactions is one way to cultivate more simplicity in your life. It’s one more way to live with purpose.

Deleting so many Facebook friends was freeing for me. I don’t want you to leave this post feeling condemned or discouraged if you have a lot of Facebook friends.

But I want to encourage you to decide your purpose for Facebook.

What about you? Do you need to delete some Facebook friends? What purpose does Facebook serve for you? What would it take for you to make your Facebook interactions more purposeful?


Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Comments

  1. says

    This is a great post! I try to keep my personal Facebook page very limited and ignore most of the requests I do get. Shortly after joining Facebook I decided to limit my personal friends to women only, out of respect to my husband who is not on Facebook. It just seems like a safe precaution to guard my marriage against any possible temptation, (though my husband is my first love, and I’m still madly in love with him!!). I wrote a post called “Protecting Your Marriage on Facebook” that you can read here: http://www.themodestmomblog.com/2013/03/protecting-your-marriage-on-facebook/
    Caroline @ The Modest Mom recently posted..Modest Monday and A Link Up!My Profile

  2. says

    I like the point about deleting past relationships/crushs. My husband has been the only person I’ve ever dated but I did have one crush and I know I need to delete him. Going now to do that

  3. Tiffany says

    Thank you for this timely blog. It really hit home for me. “How often do you find yourself in meaningless debates or even just browsing photos of acquaintances’ babies while your children sit in front of the TV watching a movie? I know I’ve been there way.too.much. “

  4. says

    I try to do this every once in awhile. I agree that determining what you are going to use FB for is key to making this a much less stressful endeavor! Thanks for sharing your tips! I probably need to go through my list again in the near future. :)

  5. says

    I did this a while back, and it has saved me so much time! I use Facebook exclusively for keeping up with family and very close friends, and I also have my church members on there because it is a quick way to communicate about any events that may be going on. “Checking Facebook” now takes only about a minute. Amazing time saver! I know you will love having yours that way too if your goal is to simplify your life.
    MaryEllen@ImperfectHomemaker recently posted..DIY Valentine’s Day VasesMy Profile

  6. Hannah says

    Very good points, I waste too much time on social media and then wonder why my thighs have grown a size! I’m also a people pleaser and as I get older I’m getting away from that. I agree with your reason for cutting people and think I will go through and do a Facebook diet of my own. As always your posts inspire me to be the better wife, mother and person that God has planned for me, and not to get my panties in a bunch and remain humbled when things seem crazy!

  7. Tammy says

    I cull about once a year. I keep it to close friends and family. Numbers start creeping up, I start going through the list and seeing who I never interact with.

  8. Valerie says

    If someone asks you why you deleted them, nothing you can say will make them not take it personally, especially saying “don’t take it personally.” The fact is that they know you looked at them and pressed “delete”, and that’s hurtful no matter how good your reasoning is. So I don’t delete people; I unfollow them. They have no idea I’ve done it, and I no longer see any of their posts in my newsfeed or see things they’ve commented on, etc. It’s like unfriending them without hurting their feelings. Also, I think it’s a little ridiculous to say that it is disrespectful or tempting to be facebook friends with old boyfriends or even guys you used to have a crush on years ago. If you still have feelings for them, or if they start messaging you to have private conversations, that’s one thing. But I haven’t seen my high school boyfriend or crushes for 15 years, and my feelings toward them are strictly platonic. I enjoy seeing pictures of their children, just like those of my female high school friends. If being friends with someone on facebook, whether you’ve known them a long time or just met them, causes you to have conflicting feelings, then you should delete them. But unfriending them just because you liked each other ages ago when you were kids seems excessive. If you worked at the same place as an old high school crush, would you demand that they have no interaction with you and refuse to even talk to them or show each other pictures of your families? If not, then what’s the harm in being “cyber friends” with them, where you don’t even see or talk to them in person?

  9. Martha Schmidt says

    Hello Erin- I love this blog- but may I ask why am I still your friend ? I’m being silly here but you don’t know me, we have never met and I only just started following you. Last year I deleted just about all of the non- friend pages -you know the great mom advise pages and the healthy eating pages . The fitness and great life pages And it felt great for a while – then I missed them and what these wonderful strangers had to say. So I had to remember and find the ones I truly “like”. It was a great exercise to see if I could remember who it was that had the great vegan recipes , and who made the best crafts for my home. Which yoga guru could I truly follow and copy the moves from. And who just annoyed the heck out of me . I too am usually friends with just the wife – my hunney is not on face book -so I keep up with family and friends for him. Though recently I added an old crush – just because we we’re great friends at one time and I was interested to see what he was up to. I love reading your posts and blog page – but since we really don’t know each other -its okay if you delete me I understand and in a few months I may even do the same to you and several other pages. It’s a good idea to change it up every so often- because after all do you really ” see” what all your friends are doing every day. if so you’d never get anything done!! Facebook is great for keeping in touch with family and friends who don’t live in my town and I generally have a “rule” about town friends not being face book friends – though some of them slip in. I’m always confused when some one I really don’t know wants to be my friend. Thanks so much for your honest post – it’s been great “knowing ” you.
    Martha
    PS I hope I was not too rude – just being me and wondering why you kept me as your friend who you really don’t “know”.

  10. says

    I deleted over 200 friends and frequently delete people. I sometimes agonize over it so you post was great! It made me go delete a few more people.

  11. Rebecca says

    I don’t do Facebook at all. So that solves that ;-) There are many reasons I do not, but… if I did, I have a feeling that my family would suffer. I get sucked into things easily, and for me, it is best not to even ‘go there’. We have close family and friends across country. We just email, call, Skype, text or share pictures/videos over a photo share site to keep in contact. Works for us!

    Great constructive post on how to form boundaries on social media. It can be such a time drain!

  12. Jennifer says

    How timely! I have just spent the last hour or so deleting people and “unliking” pages in an effort to trim my Facebook. I was following blogs through Feedly AND FB…I cut the ties on the FB following because I could and would get sucked into the comments. Reading blogs through Feedly really eliminates that temptation for me, unless I truly feel the need to read 234 comments on why x is better than y.

    I’m heading back to FB now to do another purge!

  13. says

    Yes! I did something very similar the year my son was born (I just didn’t have TIME to keep up with every single person I’ve ever met). I re-evaluate my friends list roughly every year now. My reasoning is that if we’re not involved in each other’s lives in the “real” world (excluding those who live too far away), or if I wouldn’t want to see them in person, then they get unfriended. I don’t believe Facebook should “make or break” friendships, and if a relationship is “supposed to be,” then God will make it happens with or without Facebook. He’s been doing it for thousands of years.
    Janelle @ The Smudge Curve recently posted..My Son’s First Snow Day!My Profile

  14. says

    Spot on! Love this, I spent the past year “simplifying” my overall life and relationships with friends and essentially whittling it down to the most important priorities (I am also a People person and very extroverted!)… it’s hard for me to let go of friendships, particularly when I feel like they may be ones who “need” to count on me for things.

    I never even really considered whittling down my facebook to only the primary priorities. I appreciate this post so much! Great insight :)

    ~ Sarah

  15. Ariel says

    Very good tips! I also find it very interesting (sad?) that we are in a place of having to figure out who to have as “friends” online (as opposed to previous generations), but I guess this is life, nowadays! I have also had conversations about this with my husband and friends, trying to decide how to “manage” things appropriately. I like the tip from Beth – if I would sit down for coffee with them, they stay. ;) My rule is, if it increases my personal, face-to-face interactions with them, they stay, or if I am still in contact with them (because we are friends long distance or share baby stories, etc.). I’m always hoping to USE Facebook to better my relationships, not take away from it, and if it starts to take away from either my personal friendships or my family, then I put down extra boundaries until it’s back in order. And now I shall go take a look at my friend list…

  16. Christie says

    I have deleted people who posted images that I felt were inappropriate and did not want my children to stumble upon. (I did not care to see the images either.). Some of these were highly inappropriate pictures of themselves while others were images they had seen online & had commented “This is just funny…” or whatever. Anyway, I decided on a one strike & out policy to avoid the chance of even one more inappropriate or questionable images coming through. I am still glad I have done this, though one of those who I deleted I miss & wish we could still keep in touch.

    Some time back I read a popular article about decreasing the number of Facebook friends. It sounded wise so I made some decisions (set perameters) & went about deleting those who fit predetermined (by me) criteria in the name of simplicity. Then, the friend who really had been a friend (though they didn’t fall within the perameters I’d set) had a big loss & I heard through mutual friends. I wanted to be there for the family & share my condolences through the only means I could from a distance, but awkwardly I had cut off that possibility. Also, the craziest thing happened. This was one of those “what are the odds we’ll ever see them again” type friends, but of all the crazy things a neighbor I was just getting to know was a good friend of this same friend I’d deleted from out of state! Not only had I been awkwardly missing from the condolences, but now they were coming to visit my neighbors!!!!! I ended up appearing snobbish to the new neighbor who relayed that the old friend had been wondering what happened with Facebook. I also was, I feel, rude to the friend just before they experienced a big loss AND just before they had a visit scheduled to my neighborhood. (It really was a freak coincidence type thing that we had a mutual friend!) I missed seeing them when they visited. I meant well, but in this case I regret defriending the friend.

    Now instead of defriending I limit myself. I do not feel that I have to read all that FB offers me. Some days I establish that I will not be on FB at all during the day & might use it in the place of picking up a book or playing solitaire in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. I use it as a better alternative to an occasional word game or something like DOTS. :) It’s a nice thing to quickly make a small connection with someone I haven’t seen since 1985 & reminisce about a loved one who is no longer with us on this earth with someone who needs that spot of encouragement in their day while I am waiting for my hair appointment and I’m alone in the waiting room or while I am waiting in the exam room for the dr who was called out for the emergency. Just today a friend from the early 90s who I will likely never see before heaven said how much it meant to hear stories from friends from long ago about her dad who passed away in recent years. I posted just a little something about her dad & tagged a whole slew of people (many of those I am not super close to). A number of those also shared memories. One even snapped a pic of hand-written note she still had from this friend’s dad. It was good to see his familiar scrawl & I know it meant so much to his family. Incidentally, it was very nice for me to go back and read messages I’d received from her father via Facebook just shortly before he died.

    I lost a childhood friend to suicide last year. In recent years our only connections with each other have been on Facebook. I hadn’t deleted him and would never have thought of doing so, though we did “go together” in 6th grade. Lol such puppy love. :) He had been like a brother to me in high school & college & our little group will always miss him. I regret that I had deleted our conversations when I was cleaning up my page shortly before his death. It would have been comforting to read those in the days after learning that he struggled terribly with depression as he dealt with a debilitating illness. (By the way, I honor my husband by being sure he has access to my email, private messages & Facebook & by reading together with him messages from friends like that who I know well but he really does not know.) We had plans of all getting together & I was so looking forward to my husband and children getting to know this childhood friend and others. I hate that we can’t do that now, but I am grateful that we did get a chance to talk by Facebook before my friend’s death. :(

    Just another perspective! –offered with the hope that grace is heard as I shared. I so appreciate the grace-filled tone of your posts & hope you hear the same in my response. (Note: I am not up on blog etiquette completely, but I am pretty sure this response is too long for the comment section!!! Feel free to not publish this long comment, edit it, summarize it or whatever you feel is most appropriate.)

  17. Mimi says

    I agree there is a place for deleting, but I chose to go at it another way. I simply change their status to not showing up on my timeline. That way I was not responding to things that I really didn’t need to take time to seeing.
    I also changed some of them from friend to acquaintance. So glad Facebook added that option. Now, when I post, I can choose who sees it – and the “Friends except acquaintances” is one of the choices.

  18. Wendy says

    I used to have the same rule as Caroline@themodestmom…women only. I think I blew that rule during one of my high school reunions trying to reach other alumni. I am going back to that rule.
    One thing I have done, though, is not to “follow” everyone I am “friends” with. You can friend people but if you unfollow them, still have access to them if you need to and still not have your homepage clogged up. Only my family and very close friends show up on my feed.
    Thanks so much for this blog!

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