Monday, March 16, 2009

Time For Spring (Facebook) Cleaning

About a week ago I read an article, "Would You Like To Delete This Friend" about Facebook in my March issue of GQ. Cleverly written by NYC-based writer, Todd Levin, the article wasn’t just another “impact of Facebook on society” piece (although there’s a little bit of that in there), but a personal narrative about what Facebook was to him and how he found greater peace by deleting friends instead of always adding them.

Levin recalls looking up people he remembered from high school and reading pointless, yet addicting, information on people, he, now, wouldn’t even recognize had their mug not showed up on the screen. He spent hours reading the profiles of old hook-ups, staring at the pictures of former nerds who had now become the “cool guys” at work and finding old buddies. He says stumbling across old friends was “like putting on a jacket I haven’t worn in years.”

Things changed for Levin when an old high school classmate sent him a message (and a friend request) inviting him to volunteer in helping put on his graduating class's twentieth reunion. He declined, but accepted her friend request. As Levin added friends, it eventually became difficult for him to adjust old expectations to who the people are now, and they’re not even a part of his life, which meant he was wasting his time.

The article made me think a lot about my own Facebook use. I currently have 1,922 friends on Facebook, but in reality, not many of those people are my “true friends”. Don’t get me wrong, I do have an usually large extended network of people I know or could call on simply because I’m a part of a college football team, and most of those 1,922 people I have actually met before. But the question is are they really in my life now? How often do I see these people? Do we have some long-lasting connection? Most of them; no.

I’m all for using Facebook to keep in touch with those you wouldn’t otherwise call, because you’re still friends. But what about that girl or guy you hooked up with freshman year of college, or that guy you used to cheat off of in high school, or that kid who peed on himself in third grade? Do you really need to know your movie compatibility with that person or how bad they felt after their boyfriend left them? By searching all of these things about people we barely know, not only are we wasting time, we’re opening up the potential to drive ourselves crazy.

So the next time you check your Facebook page, see if it’s not time for some Spring cleaning.

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