The average Facebook user in the United States has 229 friends, initiating 3 friend requests every month and accepting 4. The Pew Internet & American Life Project indicates your age says a lot about your friends.
A Generation Xer, my friends today number 334.
That number is decreasing every day.
Think about your high school friends
Whatever your reason for reciprocally friending someone in the past, people change and with EdgeRank partially to blame, if you’re not looking at someone’s updates any more, why do you remain friends?
The best example is high school. Who’s not friends with their entire high school graduating class? I was the first on the site and everyone else followed; and when our physical reunions were scheduled, we already knew everything about each other. But aside from the annual birthday greeting and the sporadic message to say hi, why do we remain friends? It’s not like we’re liking, commenting, and sharing each other’s updates on a daily basis.
Now that my classmates are in a shared Facebook group, it doesn’t make sense to remain inactive friends since we can write announcements and share pictures there.
The neat aspect about Facebook groups is everyone can choose to be notified of new activity. When our classmate Monica died from a sudden illness a few months ago, the group was the best way to disseminate the information and tell everyone where and how to attend the wake.
With our 20th reunion next year, I’m confident the group will be used more frequently and more productively than writing on walls.
Follow your friends and use interest lists
Aware that some of my friends, especially the open networkers with thousands of friends already, turned on their follow button (formerly called the subscribe button), I am now following their public updates. I am also curating interest lists — and this is where Facebook is really shining for me.
One of my interest lists comprises 79 people (and climbing) in the social media marketing industry.
These are a mix of people I’ve unfriended and other colleagues I respect — and they all allow me to follow them. Instead of clicking their Follow buttons though, I added them to an interest list. Go on and take a look. You can follow my list of social voices and view digests in your news feed.
Equate your pointless friends to clutter
Whether you do as I do or not, please heed the tongue-in-cheek advice of Sam Biddle who wants you to question why Tom, Dick, and Harry are your Facebook friends. He suggests you unfriend your friends because holding onto them is akin to holding onto clutter in your home.
1. Have you ever met this person?
If not, you can probably delete —- unless it’s some foreign relative, a telecommuting coworker, or something similarly practical. Otherwise, scrap.
2. Have you seen or spoken to this person recently?
The HEY WE JUST MET LET’S BE FRIENDS instinct runs strong and deep throughout the internet —- it’s customary among many circles to friend someone you’ve met the next day, or sometimes even that very night. But why? If it’s a friend of a friend of a friend, or a date who went nowhere, you’ll probably never see them again. And if you’ll probably never see them again, why should they be on any list at all? Dump ‘em.
3. Have you had sex with this person?
You might again someday. Do not unfriend.
4. Do you hope to someday have sex with this person?
Keep ‘em. You never know.
5. Are they so bad they’re actually good?
Some faux friends are so idiotic or over the top that even if they make a mockery of our notion of friendship, they’re worth keeping around for other reasons. Like your cousin’s friend Wayne, so dumb he can’t stop posting pictures of his lawn and links to Taco Bell tweets. He’s fascinating in his own way. Study him.
If you’re not emailing or calling that Facebook friend, why are you friends?
As one of my friends wrote on his wall about a similar unfriending process he undertook, “When you eat dinner at my family’s house, I think that makes you a friend.”