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