The Facebook problem

Last week, my family and I traveled to a Caribbean island for a spring break vacation. There, for the first time since I’ve had a Facebook account (2009), I went without access to the site. I spent an entire week off Facebook.

It felt good. Actually, I didn’t even miss it enough to think about how good it felt. It was only after I came home, opened my laptop and checked my account that I realized how much I didn‘t miss Facebook.

I have a habit of checking the site intermittently a few times a day. If something a friend posts strikes me, I’ll leave a comment of give a “like.” But mostly, I scroll through the last 10 or so status updates, wonder why it is I have a compulsion to check Facebook, then close the site. Facebook does little for my own social good. I don’t feel deeper connections to my Facebook friends. I don’t feel compelled to post updates about my every move. I didn’t even post photos from our spring break trip, much less announce that we had gone away. I figured, those who cared already knew. Why bother anyone else with these details?

So the question has since arisen, do I need to keep my Facebook account? And if so, why?

I read a personal account of a social media writer who defriended 90 percent of his Facebook friends. He did this because he was having trouble filtering through his myriad of friends’ status updates to find the ones he really wanted to keep in touch with on the site. He cut down his list of 650 friends to just 65 friends. He described it as a tedious process, especially when he got close to the 90 percent goal. But, in the end, he said the purging was worth it.

Hey says:

Because as I look at my news feed this morning, I’m finding updates from people I like, miss and am actually interested in. They’re not lost in the clutter of a hundred different status updates by half-forgotten strangers from high school or ex-bosses that I never socialized with in any real sense of the word.

Since reading his account, I have had that little fly buzzing in my ear, every so often bumping into my cheek and asking me why I have not done the same. Who would I let go? Who would I keep? Would I care if I missed an acquaintance’s announcement of her new baby? Would I have reduced my social capital by condensing my network?

This is a topic we have discussed on this blog a few times. We have even talked about clearing out Twitter followers to streamline that feed. That exercise proved to be well worth the energy.

The question remains, however: Streamline or cast a wide net and wade through the chaos? Is social media about being social, interacting with those you care about and who care about you, or is social media about meeting new people, gathering information and connecting with as many people, brands and ideas as possible?

For me, the verdict is still out.

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4 thoughts on “The Facebook problem

  1. Yeah, I don’t know how to answer that question either. I waver between wanting my social networks to be made up people with whom I have genuine relationships vs. a wide net of contacts. I think it’s hard in our line of work too because it can never hurt to make as many contacts as possible. You never know when someone might come in handy. I am starting to try and use Facebook, Linked In and Twitter (and G+ and Pinterest occasionally) for different purposes. But the lines blur sometimes.

  2. Pingback: Checking in « Write on the World

  3. I have two email accounts and therefore two Facebook accounts. One is very personal and I only +1 people whom I want to see posts from every day. The other account is the occasional one with everyone else not in the personal group. I use that account to play the occasional time waster game or other activity that requires you to log into Facebook. The nice thing is that I never use my private FB account for anything other than that. IE – “sign in with your FB account to access this site” crap.

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