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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Purging and cleansing my facebook “friends” list

This was my facebook status today, 30 May 2012:

“A very wise friend gave me this idea and I am going to be simplifying some things. This week is my Friends List Cleaning Week, since many people aren't actual friends, and because we rarely ever interact/communicate, some not at all. Nothing personal just trying to simplify things. I still have the subscribe option. It is pointless to have "friends" who never interact and only lurk.”

So it has come to the point where I currently have 689 “Friends” on facebook. Through the years, I have lost some, deleted some, been deleted by some, and gained many. Too many. I feel lost in a sea of friends, some of which I have absolutely no contact with at all. That is what has brought me to the point where I need to reassess the whole concept.

Obviously, I don’t have 689 “real” friends.  The 689 fall into six categories:

1)      Family (This one is fairly obvious) = People I love and interact with regularly, on facebook and in real life

2)      Professional and business contacts = Connection and interaction is based on mutual professional or business interests on facebook, and may or may not be in real life

3)      True friends = Deep connection, and interaction on facebook and real life

4)      Acquaintances = Casual connection and may or may not interact regularly on facebook

5)      Lurkers or silent non-interactors = People I know, but have absolutely no interaction with in real life or facebook

6)      Social Mediaphobes = People I know, who have facebook accounts, but never use them

** NOTE: Some people I know overlap and are more than one of the above.
 So I go through the list of the six categories and try to decide who I need to purge and I have devised a method to decide.  
Here are the criteria:

Family is off limits:

I am not going to delete any of my current family members on facebook. I am sure they are all incredibly relieved… (That’s a joke).

The silent treatment:

If I haven’t heard a word from a person in over a year- GONE.
If someone who regularly uses facebook, and I can tell they use it regularly by their posts, doesn’t ever comment on anything or even wish me “Happy Birthday” on my birthday, what is the point of keeping that person as a friend. I realize some people don’t get on facebook every day, so if they miss a birthday one year, that’s understandable. I just think it is stupid and pointless to keep friends who never interact or have anything of substance to say.

Ragers and Debbie Downers:

I can’t deal with these types and I am making an effort to cull them from the list. The negative energy they give off could dry up Niagara Falls. Sure, everyone loves to vent and gripe on facebook from time to time. It’s fun!
The Rager is that person who is angry more than five times a week about something idiotic or ridiculous- e.g. “My neighbor put the trash out again and it blew all over the street, this time I’ve had it!” or  Debbie or Donnie Downer with their “I can’t take the people I meet on, they are all big losers.”  Seriously, I have enough negativity in my day. We all love t spill our guts and commiserate, and I can appreciate the desire to vent as much as the next person. There has to be some balance, and don’t overload your friends with every meltdown in your life.

The Political Animal: 

Yes, I get it that you don’t like this party or that party or this candidate or that candidate. If you post about politics more than 4 times a week, I have got to let you go. One of the most important aspects of facebook and social media relationships is sharing common values and attitudes. I can respect other points of view and I do! I have friends of every persuasion and walk of life. The difference is I don’t want to be PLASTERED with partisan or extremist propaganda during election time or hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth about every political complaint. It’s too much. Most of the time, I filter it out, but I am starting to think I don’t need “friends” who are this neurotic about politics.


They’ve got to go. If I see that a person hasn’t commented or posted anything in this calendar year, there is honestly no point in keeping them as a “friend”. It is like bread- there is a shelf-life.
I love facebook for the connections and ability to stay connected. If it wasn’t for facebook, I would have been able to find and reconnect with people I hadn’t seen or heard from in 20 or 30 years! It is a heck of a lot cheaper and easier than a private detective.
Last year, I wrote a post called, “What does a facebookstatus say about the face behind it?” In that post I mentioned people who have absolutely NOTHING to say, EVER, on facebook. I don’t understand why they even join. Does lurking bring them happiness or is it just a morbid curiosity to peer silently into the lives of others? I don’t understand it at all. I know that some people are not as extraverted as others, but if it doesn’t appeal to a person, why join in the first place? And even more puzzling, why send people friend requests or accept theirs?

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

No, this category has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It is exactly what it sounds like- no communication. I don’t need to stay friends with people who aren’t going to communicate with me on any level. I am not asking for a lot. How about a “like” here or a comment there. How about a meaningful status that say SOMETHING about you other than what you had for breakfast. I think I am going for quality instead of quantity. I am losing my need to stay connected with every person I have ever known. If someone wants to be a part of my life, I believe they will make the effort to show me, even if it is in a tiny way.
We all have a limited amount of time, energy, and resources. It is futile and wasteful to spend a minute of time or burn a calorie on anyone who doesn’t reciprocate or engage. Why would anyone with an ounce of self-respect continue to pursue or reach out to people who aren’t willing or able to return the favor?
There comes a point where you don’t want to be the only one doing “the work” or making the effort. Even casual relationships need a measure of attention. The key is for both parties to have balance and attempt to give some indication that they enjoy the relationship/friendship/partnership or whatever it is that exists between them.

Obviously professional and business relationships are just that and don’t require the same level of effort. I don’t intend on purging any professional or business “friends”. There is an unspoken understanding that the connection is on the surface and doesn’t need to be attended to in the same way a personal connection should.
Reconnecting is one of the best parts of facebook! It is wonderful to hear from friends who live far away, to include my relatives in Germany, and see their photos and share my own. It is so much easier than email and much more creative and dynamic. The benefits are too numerous to list (maybe another post later), but there is also a cost.
As I stated in my opening line- I am only trying to simplify my life and cut down on extraneous distractions. I CHERISH most of the people I interact with on facebook, for many different reasons.
 I am not trying to hurt or annoy or anger anyone. It is just time to sort it out and clean it up. Life is too short to try to be all things to all people.  I will still have the SUBSCRIBE option.  I hope that when I cut my list of friends down and take someone off, they understand it is without malice or anger. It is simply an exercise I recommend for everyone- SIMPLFY your life and focus on the people and things that bring good, positive, exciting, and engaging things to your life.
Weed out the things that distract or distance you from what you want in life. AND MOST OF ALL- Don’t hang on to anyone or anything that takes up time, focus, or energy from you without giving something, no matter how small, back in return.
So, let me know what you think?


  1. I feel exactly the same way and did a cleanup tonight. It's going to take me some more time to go through them, but I fall in several of those categories depending on the people I'm friends with. i'm guilty of adding someone to see what they've been up to since high school or college and then deleting them about 10 minutes later. I feel strongly that if they can't say happy birthday then they have to go. There are people who love my bitchy statuses, but the second I post something meaningful, sad, or patriotic, they are nowhere to be found. bye bye

  2. Chelsea, Thanks for your comments. I consider you a hilarious and clever person. Your funny statuses aren't what I am talking about. You have a great ability to communicate and are an engaging person I have proud and happy to call FRIEND! I look forward to following your posts for a long, long, time!

  3. I am glad I am still on your friend list!! :-)

  4. I am completely perplexed by those who friend me, I say stuff to them, and they NEVER say anything back. Why did they bother? And it's not just me, either. They will post a status update, lots of people comment, and they don't reply to those comments at all. I find this strange.

  5. "If you post about politics more than 4 times a week, I have got to let you go."

    can't believe you've still kept me around, then! :)

    i understand the exercise and i'm glad it's working for you. i don't really delete a "friend" unless they've habitually offended me, ie, the guy from HS who keeps posting racist/hyper right wing comments. they aren't on my page, they aren't tagged to me, and they aren't directed at me...but they offend me. don't need that in my life. i don't necessarily need to agree with folks and i often don't -- i have a lot of friends who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum -- but if you're mean-spirited, racist, sexist or vile, you are going to be deleted.

  6. Oops, I should be deleted from everyone's list !

  7. It is a good time for some spring cleaning! For some odd reason, I even had another 40 or so friends added to my account. My guess is that the unanswered requests have now been included.

    However, i did make one addition to my blog at "Writing on the Wall" ( in that I added your site as a link. You're doing something right here :)

  8. Jim, Thanks for adding a link to this site. I sincerely appreciate it. I am glad you found my post insightful.

  9. Hi Diana, This is the first blog of your that I've seen! I like it and your sentiments! I hope we stay connected for years to come. Pardon my political posts... Can we chat off-line about your experience blogging? And Congrats on your One-Year Anniversary!! :D

  10. Linda, Thank you for your comments. I am glad you "found" the blog. I will contact you about it very soon off-line. Thank you for your well wishes and I hope to stay connected with you TOO! Talk with you soon- Diana

  11. A well written article with great food for thought. I am taking a less logical and slower approach. Each day, FB tells me whose birthday it is. So, I will check this list and if there is someone on it who I have no idea who they are or why we need to be connected, then they will be unfriended. It's based more on feeling than science. Actually, since I have over 1,700 "friends," I actually hide updates from everyone. Family are the only people I bother to check in on regularly.

  12. My rule of thumb. If you would say hello to them in the grocery store, keep them.

  13. A very good rule of thumb. Thanks for leaving a comment and for following the blog!

  14. Great post! The only thing I'd add (and it's a big one for me) are people who obsessively post about their children or pets. To me this is just as big a turnoff as the political one but I would rather have people on my list who are living consciously and are aware of and active in the world around them rather than selfishly exist in their own bubble where everything evolves around them and their children/pets.

  15. i understand the exercise and i'm glad it's working for you. i don't really delete a "friend" unless they've habitually offended me, ie, the guy from HS who keeps posting racist/hyper right wing comments. they aren't on my page, they aren't tagged to me, and they aren't directed at me...but they offend me.facebook

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  20. I'm sorry. Maybe I am more immature than the average person or have more pent up anger or maybe I am just a sociopath but I really want to do a PURGE!! But I don't want to go through such a rational exercise that makes so much sense. I just want to go through and look at each person whether they are a relative, a friend, an old high school or college acquaintance or former or current work colleague and just decide if I even like them anymore or if they just piss me off, or if they are someone I can trust or if they are there for me when/if I need them. I want to evaluate their level of shallowness (not a word probably) and ability to go deep and have perspective and value what is really important. That's it. And if it means I have 3 FB friends or if it means I close my Facebook account, then so be it. Oh, and finally, I kind of want to let everyone know that this is the way I feel. I want to announce my purge and give everyone a nice or not so nice Fuck You. I'm not sure I even care which. And on that note, I believe I have lost my mind!

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