Update: I quit using Facebook altogether about a year after this post was written. I really enjoyed using Facebook as described below, the product was actually quite pleasant, but it didn't provide me with enough value to overcome the moral issues associated with the company.
I also wrote about how I stay in touch with friends, and how it's served me better than Facebook.
My primary motivations for unfriending 360 Facebook friends was pretty simple; I just didn’t like to be on Facebook anymore. I posted three times in the last year. When I released an Unmentionables, I wanted to take advantage of social. When I wanted to put something on Bondsy for my entire network to see, more social pressure. And of course, to put up a picture of me wearing a sombrero. I didn’t care about the day to day particulars from most of the people I was friends with, and every time I went on it made me feel apathetic towards Facebook. It’s silly for me to be paying for the mistakes that a 16-year old version of me made.
It’s been about 3 weeks, and so far, I like Facebook again.
I’ve always said that Facebook is the world’s best rolodex. I can always contact everyone I’ve met and cared to friend. But what if my attitude changed to, I can always contact everyone I’ve met and think I would want to contact? So many people have taken different courses in their lives since I’ve had relationships with them, and I’m not particularly interested in the people that they are now. That’s not to say I don’t wish the best for them of course, but I have friends from high school who now put up pictures of their kids. I have friends from elementary school who I literally (actually literally) haven’t spoken to for two thirds of my life (and that gap will only get larger). I have friends who I met at a party once, who were a friend of a friend, and I really know nothing about them, but there they are in my feed. Why should I even bother? There’s only so much room in my head.
Facebook is also a great event planning tool. Go through the list of your friends, pick a place, pick a time, and you’re done. Everyone’s on the network, so you have the entire selection of your friends. Facebook has a list of basically every place, and if not, just put it in the details of the event. Facebook will even be so nice as to give you a weather forecast for the time of the event. But again, I’m not inviting people who I haven’t spoken to in years to my birthday party.
Besides that, I don’t feel much attachment to what Facebook has to offer.
So how did the unfriending go?
I’m down to 85 friends. The first run of unfriending was going through my list and just hitting the unfriend button. I was very critical, basically saying, "if I haven’t thought about you in the last 6 months, I’m just going to unfriend you." I wrote down the name of everyone I unfriended into a text file, in case I ever did have the need to message them. I got the majority of folks out of my feed that way. I then ran through the list a few more times, making sure I didn’t miss some people, including Facebookers who I may have been a bit too lenient with the first time around. Lastly, whenever I went on Facebook and saw someone who was still in my feed that I should have unfriended, I didn’t second guess it, and just did it.
So how do I like it?
I’ve long been a believer that Twitter is great because your feed is a reflection of who you’ve chosen to follow. In the end, there isn’t a reason why Facebook shouldn’t be the same way. The only thing stopping this is the social pressures that are put on by the two way relationship that a Facebook friendship is.
The number, 85 friends, doesn’t seem like a real coincidence to me. I didn’t go into this with a number in mind, but my guess is that it’s somewhat related to Dunbar’s Number. I just don’t have room in my head for all the people I had friended on Facebook before.
I’ve turned off push notifications for everything except messages. I added email notifications for new events to make sure I don’t miss that activity entirely. I just don’t feel like I need to know about everything going on in my circle every minute.
My feed feels more relevant. I don’t feel overwhelmed. I actually look forward to going on sparingly for a few minutes a day.
Overall, I’d recommend it. Even if you just intend to prune a little bit, and not just unfriend en masse, your Facebook feed will feel more personal.
Joe Fabisevich is an indie developer creating software at Red Panda Club Inc. while writing about design, development, and building a company. Formerly an iOS developer working on societal issues @Twitter. These days I don't tweet, but I do post on Threads.
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