Alex Shaw looks at how you might rid yourself of those unwanted Facebook friends
Facebook is part of us now. Like a kind of zombie apocalypse, its spread was inevitable, with only a few survivors holding out now. It won’t be long before it gets them too. It’s an incredible social tool, keeping you in contact with people from different times in your life: school friends, old boy/girlfriends, colleagues. Friends. Friends! Facebook friends everywhere you look. I’m starting to drown in friends.
Recently, I decided to look a little closer at my Facebook friends list, and you know what? A lot of these people are not my friends at all. Not even a close representation of what a friend might even be. There are boyfriends of people I met once, guys at school who I didn’t even like – it just goes on and on. There’s even people in there that post so regularly about how awful their life is, I wonder how they even muster up the energy to get out of bed. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re just sitting there in their beds, fat and atrophied, pushing and pinching their flabby sausage fingers against a greasy iPhone screen.
I would just like to caveat, that as an original Facebook user – from when it went public, obviously – the idea of having all these tenuous connections seemed fresh and exciting at first. Early months were a buzz of request accepting, then going through their friend list to find people you knew. It was infectious, and really good fun. Now I’m sure “the youths” are really selective, meaning this article probably isn’t for them. If you’re around my age – very early thirties, basically ultra late twenties, yeah? – your friends list is probably flabby and unattended.
I have some advice for you: set yourself free.
Facebook has a few ways of doing this. First, we’ll discuss the lower impact option: silencing. This is great for people who need shutting the hell up, but for political reasons you can’t unfriend (more on that later). It’s important to filter properly, so I’ll give you an example: tediously young guy who was an intern at a company I deal with for work. This guy is no real annoyance, but his constant updates about going to the gym, including, but not limited to, automatic updates from his shoes. I’m not even kidding here, It’s now possible for people to be so annoying that their shoes can fill up your screen with banality about how far and how quickly its wearer has run. That’s where we are now. This is the future.
This person will probably also send you regular event invites to awful, awful club nights they put on or DJ at. Excuse me for digressing for a second, but what kind of sick world is this that it’s easier for people to make a living (or at least some money) from DJing than from being an actual musician? It can’t possibly continue. I imagine in a few years we’ll be subjected to mashup mashups, where four songs instead of two meld together into some thick feedback loop of barely recognisable ear sludge. Scary. Anyway, it might be wise not to unfriend this person, as you never know where they might work next, or if the connection may be useful one day. Keep them in your back pocket: available, but more silent.
While silencing is very useful, it’s not the catharsis that totally severing the connection can be, so let’s move onto that next: unfriending.
Unfriending is social media’s ultimate “f*ck you”. Use it, but be aware of what it means; you are cutting ties with this person, potentially for good. If you’re in two minds, maybe consider silencing for now. But when you start taking the scythe to people that deserve it, it feels so good. Let’s take an example: girl you’re friends with because you kissed once at a sixth form party, and all she does now is play Farmville. This girl is no great loss, you didn’t even like her back then and now even less when her main communications read thus: ‘Jenn has been harvesting and has too many radishes. Can you help her out?’ The truth is Jenn has more than too many radishes, she also has too much time on her hands. Unfriend.
Don’t go crazy. Make sure you’re fair and that you don’t accidentally unfriend someone whose statuses you actually enjoy reading, about how hard they think they have it. I have one un-unfriendable person in my friends list that mournfully remembers the death dates of cats that aren’t even his. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
If you’re reading this thinking I’m being pompous and self-righteous, feel free to click on the link below and check out my Twitter feed, where I’ll inevitably annoy you sooner or later with a grammar joke, or a picture of my baby son. I’m not immune to social media oversharing myself, so feel free to delete me as a friend if you want. I can take it. I think.