Sunday, March 13, 2011

Facebook Un-friends

Something that I think about from time to time, facebook deletion. There are ethics about these things, you know. A Netiquette as it were. On the one hand, my email inbox is full to bursting with comment and status notifications of people I don't even know, and on the other hand I have to use facebook in order to keep in touch with people I can't see in person for various reasons.

And then there are the middlefolk, those random people that I met a couple of times and have a couple of things in common with but if we were never that close, facebook probably isn't going to get us any closer. Grounds for facebook deletion? These are the hard-hitting questions, people.

As we all were at one point or another (don't deny, I am including you), I used to be a little obsessed with my friend count. When I reached 700 (a large number in those days, children), that was when I realized that that little blue Tahoma number on the left side of my profile was not a direct reflection of how awesome I was. By any means. And so I looked at a random sampling of my friends, and I thought to myself, who the heck is this person? And this one? Well, we have a mutual friend so maybe that will be a hint. Who is the mutual friend? I don't even know who this is!

That was when I began to delete my facebook friends. I began in a light-handed way, deleting people that I didn't even like. Easy enough. And after I did that, I went back to the beginning and deleted everyone that I knew I would never ask the question, "What's new with you?" in real life. After that, I became more and more heavy-handed until I was down to 250 odd friends. Thats a 66.67% cut, for all you mathematicians.

Occasionally, some of those people added me back to facebook as though the deletion never happened in the first place, and I began to second-guess myself. If this person took the time to notice that I deleted them from facebook, then perhaps they care more about me than I thought, and I should give them another chance, right? Or, maybe they realized that something (my deleting them) is stopping them from stalking my profile. In which case, I certainly don't want to hand the rights to my social life back over to them, now do I?

Everyone that I try to discuss this with thinks I think too much into things, or I am too harsh on people. But I guess the basic sheared-down question is, is what do you personally use facebook for? Once you know the answer to that question, you'll know what kind of friend base you want to collect there. For example,

Case A) The Close-minder
  • Friend Count: <50
  • keeps profile completely private to everyone except their friends
  • uses facebook as a way to keep in touch with good friends and family
  • usually over the age of 30

Case B) The Test Driver
  • Friend Count: 200>600
  • adds everyone they meet and accepts all friend requests
  • stalks profiles of all new friends and decides on a case-by-case basis whether they will be deleted or kept
  • uses facebook as a way to get to know others by stalking their profiles

Case C) The Trigger-Happy
  • Friend Count: >1,000
  • adds any and all people they have ever seen or heard of, including all their friends' friends
  • will do anything to have the highest friend count of everyone they know
  • generally will not respond to any communication made to them through facebook
I tend to find myself somewhere between A and B, so I try to be more on the selective side of adding new friends. I don't need to have every single person I have ever met on facebook, but it is convenient to have a medium such as the website with which to communicate with friends that I cannot connect to by other means.

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