I bit the bullet and did it. I went on a frenzied spree, and unfriended 159 Facebook friends. That was all but eighteen of the Facebook friends I wanted to unfriend. That takes my current friend count down to 393.
At one point it had like 900 friends, or some ridiculous number like that.
Guess what. Nobody has 900 real friends.
Remember the good old days of Facebook when friend counts were just about everything on the social network? It seemed just about everyone was going for the big numbers, and why not? Facebook plastered our friend counts all over the place. It was a way of measuring our social status.
It was also the first time we could so easily find all the people from our pasts. We became truly obsessed. For me, this included but was not limited to: old friends, business associates, college roommates, old neighbors I loved, old neighbors I didn’t care for, old church pals, old church Judgy Judies, siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, great aunts, in-laws, ex in-laws, and of course all sorts of kind-of-once-knew-but-really-never-knew acquaintances.
Then something funny happened, for me at least. After a couple years of that, I realized I really didn’t give a shit about most of the “friends” on my list, or what they were doing in their everyday lives. Now, this is going to be a monstrous thing to say, but… I didn’t give a shit about what they were eating, what they believed, what their current daily drama was, and I really didn’t give a shit about their cute kid or cute couple pictures that constantly showed up on my Facebook wall.
As I perused my Facebook wall one day, I realized that it was full of people I barely once knew. I also noticed (that same day) that Facebook had removed (thankfully) the friend count from people’s profile pages. In that moment, while no longer feeling the pressure of being as popular as the next guy, I went on my first great unfriending spree. I removed almost 400 people whom I had only ever added to drive up my fucking number. God, the whole process was so liberating. But it wasn’t Ruthless. There were still a lot of people on my “friends” list whom I thought would have deeply hurt feelings if I took them off.
Time cluttered my “friend” list again, and my feed once again was filled with shit I didn’t care about. This time there were all sorts of people I once went on a single date with, or people I met while out and about doing Single Dad Laughing stuff, or friends of friends I met at get-togethers, or… Mudder friends.
I led four different Tough Mudder teams in four different states. Two of those teams had 50-70 teammates on them. After each one came to an end, I returned to my Facebook staring down the gullets of dozens of new friend requests.
Now, I don’t wanna sound like a douche here, but it’s probably inevitable. I do wanna be real about it, though. What we shared at those Tough Mudders was amazing. We had some real moments. Some powerful moments. Some wake-up-and-meet-life moments. I bonded with many teammates in those couple of days together. But (and here comes the douche part)… I didn’t leave as actual friends with many of the people whose friend requests I accepted. Most of us were just awesome people who shared an awesome weekend together…
Over the years, I also went on awesome dates with awesome women. Obviously those didn’t lead to lasting love. Or lasting friendship. We were just awesome people who shared awesome coffee together.
I met awesome people at awesome events and did awesome things with them, too. But we weren’t real friends when we were done.
Yet, there all these people were… On my “friend” list.
Why discuss this at all? Good question. I’ll tell you so long as you promise to untwist your panties ahead of time.
I discuss this because we’re pretty much all on Facebook. It’s not going anywhere. Our lives are so engrained and documented in it that it’s nearly impossible to stop. I’m okay with that. I like being able to see what the people I really give a shit about are doing in their everyday lives. Facebook puts out lots of cool tools and features. Facebook isn’t a bad thing. But it’s a miserable thing, if it’s filled with people you don’t want to see and know everything about… forever.
Yeah. I said forever.
Sure, something else may come along and take the online social scene away from Facebook, but if it does our same friend lists will go with it, so it’s a baseless point to argue in this discussion. The point is that unless we go “Into the Wild,” the people we’re connected with on Facebook are going to be there until we’re dead or until we remove them.
We all only have so much life before we become worm food. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to give precious seconds of my day to know what other people are doing in their days, I want to give a shit when I do.
So, yeah. I went on a ruthless, douchey unfriending spree. It was nothing personal. I just didn’t give a shit about seeing it. That doesn’t mean (and this is an important point) that I didn’t (and don’t) give a shit about the people themselves. Would I like to see many of those people again? Absolutely. Would I enjoy their company if we rubbed elbows once more? Absolutely. Could real friendship develop or rekindle one day? Absofuckinlutely. But that day probably is not today, and the “add friend” button is never more than a click away.
As for me, I promise I see the irony. I (try to) make my living on social media. I only pay to heat my home if other people give a shit about seeing or hearing from me in their feeds. Why bring up this irony? Because it’s fucking irony. And irony in writing is funny shit.
Please don’t anyone take up any space in your Facebook feed solely in the name of supporting me. You only have so many seconds on the clock before you expire. You only have so many beats in your heart. Keep me in your social feeds if it adds to your life, and if my writing and/or life are something you actually give a shit about seeing. If at any point that’s becomes untrue for you, unfollow me immediately. Unfriend me. Do not waste a single extra thought debating it or worrying about my feelings. Your life is too valuable to waste it on “friends” instead of on stuff you want filling your noggin’.
Anyway, unfriending lots of “friends (and lots of Facebook pages) was what I’m calling “my great and ruthless unfriending spree.” I got almost everyone. Like I said, there are still 18 people I’d rather remove, but I can’t. I either lack the balls, or I’m smart enough to know when an unfriending just can’t be explained and just ain’t worth it. Either way, those 18 people are people I’m stuck with for life. Some of them, both on and off, of social media.
Goddamnit. My wall is mine again. My feed is mine. I love it. I feel awesome about it, so don’t try raining on this parade. In fact, I highly suggest you all go do the same right now. I bet you’ll find what I found… People whose updates I didn’t give a shit about seeing didn’t even notice it had been done. So far, anyway.
Dan Pearce | The Dan Pearce Blog