A few thoughts on de-cluttering your Facebook friends list

Seeing The Social Network made me think about the early days of Facebook, and how even from the beginning it seemed like a natural part of life. Since Facebook came into our lives what would once have been a one-time, forgettable meeting with some people has turned into a life-long connection. Or has it?

One time in college I was walking through the commons when I ran into a mere acquaintance, who introduced me to his girlfriend because she happened to be standing there.

I went back to my dorm and checked Facebook, because that’s what you do as soon as you log onto any computer in the world, isn’t it?

I saw the exciting little tab telling me I had a friend request so my face smiled.

“Woo hoo! Someone added me as a friend! Wait a second … who is this?”

It was the girl I had just met in the commons. A bit creepy because I didn’t even know her, and this meant she went straight home, searched for me, and clicked “add.” I’m pretty sure this violates the unspoken Facebook code of ethics. You wait at least a couple weeks after regular contact with a person before you even begin to think, “Should I add this person on Facebook?”

I didn’t want to, but I accepted because it would be awkward if I ran into her on campus again, which I invariably would considering our school wasn’t that big and I occasionally had classes with her boyfriend.

After Facebook became a natural part of life and people were pushing 100-200 people on their friends list, I started hearing people discussing “cleaning up” their Facebook lists.

It’s surprising the amount of people who find going through their friend list and deleting people to be a hilarious activity.

I didn’t find it funny, but I thought, “Sure, why not delete a few people? I’m probably never going to see them again, especially that one guy’s girlfriend at this point, so why should they be cluttering my list?”

Then I got cleared off someone’s list.

WTF?? I worked with that girl for like TWO YEARS!! Sure, we weren’t really friends, but we certainly weren’t enemies or under any kind of distressing terms of friendship.

I didn’t mind her on my list – despite the fact that she stole my lunch straight out the freezer at work one day – because any time I happened to see her profile it reminded me of my good ol’ days at the book store.

Do I care about her life at all? No, not really. Actually no, not in the slightest. Still, that miniscule amount of rejection annoyed me. I’m in no way unique, so although it doesn’t bother many people I’m not alone in this matter.

Every time I find out I’ve been deleted I sit back in my chair at the annoyance that someone deleted me, that someone couldn’t stand the thought of my stupid little face popping up in their friends section every few months – if ever.

People with whom you have no contact will rarely, if ever, appear in your news feed, so what’s the bother?

After talking about this with Adrian I came to the conclusion that there is no point of deleting someone on a list that has no limits, a list on which you can privatize or block almost anything you don’t want to see or don’t want people to see. I guess it makes people feel important.

Also, it’s not like you have to search through hundreds of people to find someone. You simply have to type the first letter of their first name or the first letter of their last name and Facebook’s search tool will auto complete so you don’t even have to type the full name!

If you are really concerned about your amount of friends, you won’t be deleting a few people here and there, you’ll be deleting people by the hundreds. I don’t know anyone who has more than a few real friends. So what’s the point?

At the very least, if you are going to delete people don’t announce it on your newsfeed and tell everyone you are about to take out the trash on your friends list so if they don’t see you anymore they didn’t make the cut! Wow, thanks. I feel SO privileged to have made this cut because you are so amazing.

I’ve actually seen several people make this type of announcement. Every time I see that I wish I’d get the boot.

Obviously a lot of people wouldn’t care about being deleted, and really, it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But I’m never going to delete people because I don’t want to risk hurting anyone’s feelings over something that just doesn’t need to be done.



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26 responses to “A few thoughts on de-cluttering your Facebook friends list

  1. cliffspab

    I take great pleasure in culling my facebook friends.

  2. What a strange world it had become, only in the last few years. Facebook is a natural part of life? I grew up before the Internet, before cell phones, and mostly before Windows. Nothing about this new reality feels natural to me.

    Yes, alas, I am on Facebook. I resisted for a long time, but was advised to join as a tool to announce my writing and make contact with publishers. I won’t play Farmville, however.

    • I can understand how weird it must be to go from a private life to having everything out in the open and communicating with any one at any time. I got internet when I was still in grade school, and all through high school there were many simpler forms of online information sharing. When Facebook came along it kind of tied everything together and seemed like a natural progression.

      I’ll never play Farmville either!! Sounds like you are on the right track!

    • I don’t play the games on FaceBook either since they are boring and a complete waste of time but it is a great way of keeping up with friends, family and coworkers…

      • I agree. Another thing I hate about games is that the person’s Facebook is littered with new farm animals requests, or whatever the game is. I don’t like to go to people’s pages who are big game players.
        As a connection for family or long lost friends – there’s nothing like it!

  3. You forget how the deletion of “friends” who aren’t friends can be a symbolic rite of passage.

    Great post! You’re always entertaining to read.

  4. K-ran

    I always get offended when I get deleted because I frequently purge my list of people who I’m sick of looking at their face. so if I didn’t delete someone there was a reason. So when I get deleted, I feel like I liked them more than they liked me. Or I was interested in their life more than they were interested in mine.

  5. Hmmm… I was just considering starting a Facebook account so I can be “in the know.” Now, I don’t know if I could bear the possible rejection. Well, I have to jump in sometime.

    I was so happy when I saw your stick drawing self-portrait! I love those! You’re pics in your last post were awesome, but, please, don’t ever stop those hand-drawn recreations of your life. They’re the best!

    • Definitely get a Facebook account! Even my parents have one! I’d try to get my grandma on as well if she had a computer. I try to get everyone on Facebook because I love it so much lol.

      I’m really happy you like my drawings, because I love drawing them!

  6. It’s strange to think Facebook has only been in our lives for a few years, NOT our whole lives, like it seems.

    “If you are really concerned about your amount of friends, you won’t be deleting a few people here and there, you’ll be deleting people by the hundreds. I don’t know anyone who has more than a few real friends. So what’s the point?”

    So true. I only went through a “clearing out” once, and I didn’t announce it, but I got rid of abour 70 people. I don’t really get too bothered if I get deleted from FB, but strangely it does bother me when someone stops following me on Twitter because you have no idea who it was!

    • I know – it’s weird how a person you don’t really know or care about will delete you or stop following you and it causes concern!
      70 people! That’s what I’m talking about – mass extinction. At least if you delete people, you do it right lol.

  7. Sarah Scott

    I agree with this wholeheartedly, though I did delete a friend once. She would always post every miniscule thing she did throughout her day, like washing dishes or going to the post office. I hate it when people do that and she was rediculous about it so she got cut. (On a side note, I love your blogs! You are a very good writer Sara, I am definitely a fan!)

    • Thank you!!! I find that is the number one reason people get deleted – their incessant posts about nothing are annoying.

    • LL

      I was recently friended by a distant, 14 year old cousin. She constantly updates her status to pop love/emo lyrics and adding dark, blurry, emo profile pictures that I cannot really see (from being too dark/emo). I was afraid to unfriend her since she is in a constant state of emotional turmoil, so I have found facebook’s ignore newsfeed button very handy.

  8. I think anytime announces on Facebook that they are making a cut or some shit, I make it a point to delete them first. I’m a bitch like that.

    Whenever I do see that people have deleted me it makes me wonder. People it’s never the people I’ve met once or never have in person, it’s usually someone I went to high school with or had been good friends with for awhile. It baffles me to that they’d take the time to specifically delete me. Are my updates THAT annoying? Perhaps.

    Anyway I LOVE your blog and I’m so glad I found it. I find your writing really funny and humorous as well as the pictures you add.

    • I really like your idea of deleting them first. I think I’m going to do that. That way when they are going through and if they happen to notice, they’ll be like WTF. Saves me from saying it. 🙂

  9. nice post. I have been deleting / up dating my friends list lately. I got deleted by a few i didnt mind as i have been deleting a few too. Thats life.

  10. LL

    I clean up my facebook list every time it is my birthday just to avoid well-wishers from people who barely know me, or whom I don’t remember (must not be very good friends, then). I try to soften the blow with a status update: “cleaning friends list. Sorry, but it’s just facebook.”

    I’ve found it’s the new thing (Southpark’s You have 0 Friends episode) to have as many friends as possible, and I am just another tally to them.

    I do guilt trip until I keep reminding myself it’s just facebook..

  11. Ebony

    “People with whom you have no contact will rarely, if ever, appear in your news feed, so what’s the bother?”

    This isn’t actually the case. I see people in my feed with whom there’s no interaction either way. FB makes up its own mind about who your friends are.

    What bothers me more than being de-friended by someone are the access restriction features. Finding out someone no longer feels you’re worthy of viewing their wall isn’t so nice. Doesn’t make one feel inclined to start a chat or send a message. I’d rather they’d just deleted me as a friend.

  12. I think you are right in a sense, but overall the reason I said that was because there are many people that a couple years later I will wonder if they are still on my friends list because they never show up. Plus, it’s so easy to just press delete on one of their news feed posts and they’ll never appear again.

    I was kind of under the impression that the restrictive wall viewing and things like that were reserved for family members! I’ve never known anyone to restrict stuff unless they didn’t want a family member or employer not knowing certain things about them!

  13. A while back I found out that my brother’s wife was using his FB account to manipulate the games when I asked him why he ignored me when I tried to chat with him. Last night I finely confronted my brother’s wife and told her that she should be ashamed of herself and that if I caught my wife using my FB id that I’d lock her out of both my FB account and computer.

    So this morning I discovered that my brother’s avatar had disappeared from my friends list…I’m so sad NOT! 🙂

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