15 August 2015

Why It's The Right Time To Facebook Cull

It used to be a real competition when you were younger to have the most friends, followers or connections on social media. When I was at school, you knew you'd made it once you reached the top row of more than five friends' Bebo page. Even now I still care about how many follower I have on Twitter and Instagram - not to the same obsessive point, thank God. And I'll admit, I used to be quite proud of having nearly a thousand friends on Facebook. 'Used' being the important word here - past tense.

Recently I've started to realise that having so many friends on Facebook isn't necessarily a good thing. Other than for work, I use Facebook to keep in touch with all my friends. Social media makes it really easy to stay in contact with people wherever they are - as long as they have a connection to the internet. I'm fortunate enough to have travelled a lot, without even taking a gap year, and Facebook is the best way too keep in touch with all the people I've met. I'd never go as far as to delete my Facebook account but recently it's been starting to lose it's appeal, and it's not just me (which is probably why they've started advertising on the TV in the UK). 

I think the problem for me is that I actually have too many friends on Facebook. This makes me sound really arrogant but if you think about it, it's probably true for you as well (unless you've only recently joined, recently culled or have always had really strict rules about who you accept). 

There is no way I could name all of the friends I have on Facebook, or even communicate with all of them. There are some people that I have on there who I haven't ever met, who I can't remember or haven't spoken to in over 5 years. I'm not saying I should delete all the people who fit in these categories, I'm just saying I have a lot of different connections on there who in real life I might not call 'friends'. 

So gradually, I've been 'culling' my Facebook friends. I've been doing it over the last year or so, and there's still more to go, but I think it's the right time to do it. It's like de-cluttering your wardrobe - I should know as I'm a ridiculous spender (literally just Rebecca Bloomwood from Confessions of A Shopaholic but without credit cards, yet) and I've just moved to a bijou room in Clerkenwell. We all have dresses, tops, jackets, shoes that we've only worn once, that don't fit, that are completely over worn, that we've changed our minds about or have never even worn. Holding on to all these items isn't going to help you choose what to wear, just in the same way keeping loads of 'friends' on Facebook isn't going to make you happier. 

I've trying to get down to a core group of about 400 people that I genuinely would like to keep in contact with and care about what happens in their life. It's now over a year since I graduated from university and I'd probably say that about 70% of the people I met from there I have't talked to in the last year. And there's probably about 40% I won't ever speak to again. It's also 4 years since left school, I no longer live in the same area and I only go back and visit every couple of months. So do I need to keep a virtual connection with people I don't even know any more? 

There's no easy way to decide who you may or may not want to contact in the future but there's nothing to say that in 5 years time you can't re-add someone you'd like to reconnect with. In fact, there's nothing to say you can't do it straight away other than social media etiquette. 

One tip I would like to share that I've been using is asking yourself a simple question: would you say hello to them if you saw them in the street? If you wouldn't do this then you're not likely to do it online either. 

Once you've had a good culling session you'll find that Facebook is just as good as it used to be. The algorithm on Facebook works so that pictures or statuses that are most popular among your friends come to the top of your News Feed. If you only have connections with the people you want then your feed will be filled with interesting updates from all your friends and you won't spend as much time browsing through it. That's the plan at least! 

So if you've been a bit bored with Facebook recently, maybe it's the right time for you as well!