Friday, January 22, 2010

Why Less is More

While I've never had the illusion of privacy on social networks, I realized recently that my Facebook page is out of control.  While I do use the term "friend" liberally, I'm not quite sure how my Facebook friend count swelled to more than 1,100 earlier this week.

Okay, maybe I do.  Like my friend Gini wrote in her piece about Social Media Boundaries, I'm nice.  I want people to like me.  I can't say no.  And most of all, I like people, from my childhood best friend to the person I met last week at the coffee shop. And I really believe in the potential of these connections, large and small.  For not only friendship, but partnership, collaboration, mentoring, knowledge.  In fact, many people I only had chance encounters in with life pre-Facebook have become some of my closet friends and most loyal clients.

But I'm reconsidering my Facebook "open door" policy, especially now that I've become more visible in the community.  It's not that I have anything to hide--I like to think people connect with me and hire me because of my personality, so I don't mind talking about how I hate mornings, enjoy my evening wine and get the occasion blues.  But I DO mind friend requests from people I've never met or interacted with, endless invitations to join Mafia Wars or 50 different fan pages and countless status updates about your child's potty training activities.  But most of all, I just want Facebook to be what it used to be for me--a place to engage, to connect, to build lasting relationships with quality people.

So, I defriended about 100 people today.  And it was quite liberating.  And if you made the cut--congrats!


  1. Laura -- I did the same thing recently, trimming away some folks that I knew a long time ago but had no communication with after friending on Facebook. I also trimmed folks I had not had any contact with one-on-one in the past year -- had only one complaint. But it was getting a little top heavy.

  2. A poet friend I met on-line, Dana Martin Guthrie [1], directed me at an interesting article on friendship. William Deresiewicz's "Faux Friendship" [2] places the weakening of the word friend in historical context. I don't agree with his conclusion that "now we are turning into machines" with our variations on the theme of friend, but the history is a thought-provoking perspective on the blurring boundaries.



  3. Jason, thanks for sharing! I definitely agree that boundaries are being blurred. Can't wait to check out those articles.

  4. lol.. dumped 200.. if i didnt have their cell #, know them face to face or have been "online friends" over a year.. poof..

    i think the next wall we will want to put up is "check in" sites...

    good article. good timing.

  5. Nice! This is a very interesting discussion that social media likes will be having for quite some time. I personally, am like you - Like people, don't want to make people mad and really just can't say no. I haven't been able to take that giant step like you have and delete the people who send out mafia wars and farmville requests but its definitely crossed my mind. Would you be offended if someone defriended you on facebook? I don't think I would...especially if I barely knew them or rarely talked to them.

  6. Nice post, Laura. Your experience is something a lot of people will be going through this year, leading to a more personalized and deliberate approach to social media - and I think where more value will be found. And, I also think it's why we will see the rise of niche communities - where people can find content (and people) more specific to their areas of interest. Here's a specific example that I've developed in the beer category, but more specifically, sharing photos of beer ( And, the community that's formed around it has made it increasingly focused on the craft beer category. This same thing can apply to wine, running, 67 Chevys, etc - anything that dials into a passion that can be focused and on specific aspects of that passion. Thanks for the post.

  7. @Brad--I like your idea of niche communities.
    @The Coolest Cool-I've been defriended before, and most of the time, I have absolutely no idea who it was--so it doesn't really bother me.

  8. You've inspired to me to do the same. No worries though, you will for sure make my cut! A life without Laura updates just wouldn't be as fun!

  9. I agree! First, I keep my FB for friends & family only. My business associates can keep up with me on LinkedIn. Second, I routinely "clean out" my friends. If someone never interacts with me, never posts about their life, they're out. I don't need a personal lurker and that doesn't enhance my FB experience at all!

  10. Just read this blog post and immediately went through my FB contacts and dumped about 50 ppl! I agree, it was quite liberating :)


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