Just in case you didn’t know already, I’m super popular. I have over 300 friends, which is more than enough to fill a fancy hotel ballroom for my birthday celebration. I’m not the most popular person I know though – I have friends that have more than 1000 friends! That would make an expensive wedding guest list.
Of course, I’m using the term “friend” pretty loosely. These days, many of my “friendships” are maintained over Facebook. Not many of my 300 friends would actually come to a birthday party that I was throwing. A lot of them are people that I’ve met over the years backpacking around the globe, and others are friends of friends that I met one night out on the town. More are former colleagues or school friends that I haven’t seen or spoken to for years, even decades.
It’s not hard to accumulate hundreds of friends on Facebook, particularly when you think of the sheer number of people that you will cross paths with at school, university, workplaces, friends of friends, and sporting team mates. When you become friends on Facebook, it’s not just a way for you to keep in touch with someone but it’s inviting someone into your life. They can see your personal details, the places you go, who are your friends, spectate on your conversations, and view photos of you.
Yes, Facebook provides plenty of material for a would-be stalker or other downright nosy people.
Therefore it’s not a bad idea to comb through your friends list everyone once in a while and Unfriend those that probably shouldn’t have an all-access pass to your life. These would include some or all of the following:
- Exes: particularly when it hasn’t been an amicable breakup and one person is still in love with the other. Now is the time to cut the cord and move on!
- Friends of exes: you break up with the person, you break up with their friends. It wouldn’t be cool for them to continue hanging out or calling up your friends and, as much as you might like their mates, their loyalties will probably lie with your ex.
- Drunken one night stands: you’ve probably long forgotten about the whole experience but they have another big night out, start reminiscing about the evening of passion they shared with you and then all of a sudden you start getting cheeky and unwanted messages from them. Especially inconvenient if it was years ago and you’re currently seeing someone.
- Stalkers: maybe they just think you’re really interesting or maybe it’s something slightly more sinister. Unfriend!
- People that you don’t even really recall meeting: I often see “friends” popping up on my newsfeed and I barely even remember who they are or where we met. It’s only when I wrack my brain that it eventually occurs to me that we met 7 years ago in a tiny Peruvian hostel and shared a crossword puzzle.
- People that only contact you when they want something: these are the ones that you don’t hear a peep from until they want you to sponsor them for Movember or a charity marathon, or they want you to sign up to their Amway-style scheme.
- Vague acquaintances: my ultimate filter in determining whether someone should remain my Facebook friend is to ask myself whether I would bother catching up with them over a beer if we were in the same city. And would they contact me if they were in my city? If the answers are no, then they’re not really your friend, are they?
Having thousands of friends on Facebook might make you feel popular, and signal to everyone on your friends list that you are a social climber. In reality, you have opened up yourself to all these people and they can view intimate details of your life and your interactions with others. There are no doubt a few groups of people that you don’t want on your friends list, such as stalkers or your exes, but having a smaller list of closer friends will probably also mean that you will have more meaningful conversations and interactions in that Facebook sort of way. After all, how valued do you feel being one of someone’s 1000 Facebook friends?