Last night I had 369 Facebook friends, and today I have zero. I thought about quitting Facebook a few weeks ago, but realized that Facebook itself wasn’t the problem. The problem was my friends. Yesterday I realized that I didn’t even have to quit Facebook. I just had to quit my friends, so last night I went through and unfriended them one by one. This is what I think about it so far.
The first thing I learned was that you can’t have zero friends on Facebook. I had thought that after I deleted everyone, my feed would just be posts from pages I’ve liked, but instead it was completely blank. Facebook wasn’t built for a solitary user. It is, after all, a social network.
I was pretty sure that I deleted all of my friends last night, but this morning I found that one managed to hang on. Whether that was an oversight on my part, or some kind of insistence by Facebook that I remain friends with somebody is unclear, but when I logged on this morning Facebook said I was still friends with comedian Chip Chantry. I also noticed that my feed was working the way I expected it to. With one friend, the only posts I saw in my feed were from Chip and the pages I’ve liked.
As an experiment, I unfriended Chip again, and with zero friends my feed was blank once more. Facebook seemingly only works if you have at least one friend. To keep with the nature of the experiment, I didn’t want to be Facebook friends with any actual people, so I created a dummy account and friended it so that I can at least still read updates from pages.
One day into this thing, I’ve got to say that Facebook is a lot better without friends. What I didn’t like about Facebook was the constant updates for things that don’t concern me. Facebook friends barrage you with game requests, pet photos, pleas for charity, or a thousand other inane things. It eats up time and takes my focus off things I am interested in.
In an early effort to keep my professional life and my personal life separate, I created a fan page for myself. You’re all free to discuss the narcissistic implications of that, but I promise there were practical reasons. That page is still active, and people in my life can still interact with me through Facebook on that page, so I’m not cut off. I just don’t have see things that don’t interest me. The only updates I’ve seen today have been about new fans or comments on my page.
Essentially, by only interacting through the Pages functions of Facebook, I’ve turned it from a two-way interaction to a one-way interaction, and so far I like that a lot better. (Sounds like Glen would probably enjoy the Subscribe function, but that’s neither here nor there. – Rollin) It’s similar to how other sites like Twitter or Google+ work. Twitter lets people follow you without the need to follow them back. I haven’t used Google+ as much as Facebook or Twitter, but it doesn’t appear there’s any forced reciprocity in arranging connections into Circles.
I’ve realized that I like Facebook a lot more than I thought I did. The platform itself is an efficient way to communicate with a lot of people, and the problem is that not everyone uses that power responsibly. When I decided to unfriend everyone I thought I might only do it for a week or so, and then go back and reconnect with some of them, but I don’t know. I’m kind of digging my solitary Facebook world for the moment.
I’ll at least go a week without any Facebook friends then report back how I feel about it next Thursday, but even then I’m not sure I’ll be sending any friend requests.
- These are the kinds of people I don’t like being friends with, even though I fall into all these groups
- I’m glad I don’t have to read anyone complaining about the redesign
- Unfriending people on Facebook has real world implications
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