Monday, November 12, 2007

Sorry pal - you ain't my friend no more

I woke up Saturday morning to a facebook news feed filled with new relationship announcements, "fan" declarations, haiku-like status updates and everything else you can imagine. The problem is, most of these updates came from people I barely know anymore (or ever).

At first, it might seem nice that I know that a friend of a friend of mine who I met once in college is "shocked" because he just had his first baby. But why do I feel like it is a bit delusional of me to feel excited for him? Why should I care? Is my life actually any richer because I have my finger on the pulse of a wider network of acquaintances? Is my life any richer because a wider network of acquaintances have their finger on my pulse?

As my list of friends swelled from 200 to 400 to 600, and with that, got filled with "friends" who should never have strayed from my LinkedIn network, facebook is increasingly feeling like a really messy attic.

People use to be pack rats with things. Now we're all becoming pack rats with friends (and in LinkedIn's case, with business contacts). We collect "friends" like signatures in a high school yearbook or old postcards, stowing them away just in case. With facebook's illusion as a limitless always-clean attic, we are never forced to do a spring cleaning. But the problem is, facebook doesn't have shelves in its attic. I can't have my easy-to-reach friends, and the in-the-back-of-the-closet friends. They're all mixed together. And it just ain't working for me anymore. It's time for a spring cleaning.

So, this is my formal declaration: facebook has been too slow in rolling out their "linkedin-killer-network" feature we've heard so much about. So I have resolved to reduce the number of facebook "friends" I have. This weekend, I took my first sweep. It's not easy, like throwing anything away, I can't help but wonder whether I'll regret it later. But after the initial self-doubt, with each friend removal, I feel like I've removed a little clutter from my life. You might want to give it a try...