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Facebook Shakedown

When I went to sleep on Friday night I had 535 Facebook friends. Today I have 416.

/approve
/approve, by striatic on Flickr

I know each of those 416 people. Some are close friends, some old classmates, some relatives, some acquaintances, many are crafters and colleagues.

I do not know the 119 people I unceremoniously unfriended yesterday. I may have met a few of them briefly, but most I never met and likely never will.

Why had I accepted their friend requests, then? It’s not because I had the goal of having as many Facebook friends as there are members of the United States Congress. Mostly it’s because, though I was very strongly inclined not to, I drank a little bit of the Kool-Aid. As I choked it down, I figured a stranger who’s a crocheter who wants to be friends with me on Facebook (and pretty much all the strangers who want to be friends with me on Facebook are crocheters) is a person who may buy my books or who may tell their friends how great my books or other works are. That stranger may feel tickled to be connected to me on Facebook, and that may be good for business.

So I accepted those friend requests and put the strangers onto my limited-profile list. Of course, I restricted that list’s access to the point that people on it saw almost nothing I post on Facebook. But I was uncomfortable just ignoring the requests.

Over time, Facebook became less and less fun for me, and less and less useful. With the exception of a few of my close friends who use Flickr or Twitter, Facebook is the only place I interact with my friends and family online. I enjoy staying in touch with people on Facebook, especially people I’m not able to see in person very often.

But as strangers started to comprise 20% of my “friends”, the site just got to feel annoying. I spent as much time hiding people and ignoring stupid game requests as I did looking at photos of my distant friends’ new babies.

So I’ve taken back my Facebook. I still find the interface to be totally annoying, and I still configure my privacy settings and stream settings so I share and see exactly what I want to with and from exactly whom I want to. But it’s back to being personal, not business.

For strangers who want to connect with me on Facebook, I have my fan page. This is one thing Facebook has really done right. A fan page is a one-way setting – people can follow it but it requires no reciprocation. Just like Twitter and Tumblr and Flickr and the subscription setting on Goodreads (a site I’ve been better about when it comes to only being friends with people whose taste in books I know and trust). I share a lot on my fan page, just like I share a lot in many other places online and here on my blog. I’m hardly inaccessible, and I do love chatting with people I don’t know.

So there you have it. I’m far less cynical about Facebook, now. And I imagine I’ll pay more attention to chatting with people on my fan page. As far as I can see, that’s a win for everyone. (Unless, you know, I’ve deeply offended 119 people. I hope I haven’t, but it’s a risk I’m glad I took.)

A wee post-script: I unfriended quite a few businesses during my spree. If you’re a business, why do you have a normal Facebook profile and not a fan page? I bet you’d have a lot more fun, feel far less unnecessary social pressure, and reach way more people with a fan page. Just sayin’.)

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Baterista9

Understand and applaud your reasoning.

Gilder in Texas

Gaile

Well said, Kim.

NexStitch

Kim, I can’t agree enough. I get friend requests all the time from strangers and I hope there isn’t offense received on their end when I don’t accept them. I had decided about 10 minutes into my plunge on FB that it was the last online frontier for me to connect on a personal level with friends and family. In my mind, I’m doing my friends and family a favor in NOT accepting friend requests from strangers because anything they say on a personal level on my wall would be visible and open to comment on by total strangers. I’m just not comfortable with that, for them and for me.

This is no different than me not accepting friend requests from former students or colleagues at work. I learned a long time ago that drawing that line in the sand keeps my sanity in check.

And for the same reason, I have a fan page which I use and enjoy talking to people (strangers and friends) about all things crochet in a place that’s meant for at type of interaction.

gerri newfry

oh my. i should totally do this myself. except i hardly ever look at anyone’s fan page.

Ivy

I’ve always had a policy of keeping Facebook to people I know–so far it hasn’t bitten me but who knows? I think it makes total sense, and I’ve never understood why people friend random strangers on FB.

(Okay, there were one or two exceptions. But they were really, really cute and I’m single and sometimes desperate.)

Melissa Gold

Agreed. Because I like Facebook to be fun, and I don’t want to feel uncomfortable posting pictures of my kid or blather about my weekend, my friend-acceptance rules are that the potential “friend” must be someone who:

(1) I would recognize if I saw him/her walking down the street; or
(2) even if I might not recognize him/her right away in 2010, I have to have been able to recognize at some point in our lives; and
(3) we have to have had some kind of meaningful (though I do use this word loosely) relationship… i.e. just having been classmates in third grade doesn’t give us a relationship; “meaningful” to me means that I have to have at least mild curiosity to see what the person is currently doing for a living/where she or he lives/what the spouse/kids look like.

So, y’know – (1) or (2) plus (3). What does get under my skin is when I get a friend request from someone who looks vaguely familiar and with whom I have mutual friends, but I have no idea who s/he is. Granted, if I don’t fully recognize your face even when paired with your name, then the whole “meaningful relationship” thing is basically null… but, it will drive me crazy for a day or two wondering who you are and how I know you (and then I forget about you and move on).

Oh, and I have been guilty of accepting a friend request to be nosy and check out someone’s profile, and then de-friending them afterwards because once I see that s/he’s become a semi-normal human being, has a semi-normal job and semi-normal looking spouse, I am not so interested in any more information. Gotta’ love it.

Yarn

Because I set the Lorna’s Laces page up as a regular page and not a fan page way before I understood about fan pages and now I am too lazy to switch it. Pathetic, yes? ;-) That said, I should cull my personal page for all the reasons you mention. I rarely post on it because there are too many yarn people on it and I don’t want to offend.

plainsight

I’ve never friended people I don’t know, but I do have a problem with too many friend requests from people who should really be “liking” my fan page. I don’t want to necessarily just “ignore” the requests, I feel like it would make better business sense to send them a polite message explaining my facebook policy and directing them to my fan page. But this has to be done one by one. It’s time-consuming, and I haven’t been able to do it. It would be great if someone wrote a tool for that!

stitch.tac.sew

Kim, I’m a big fan, but absolutely feel that some social networking should stay within your personal network. You shouldn’t have to think twice about every update or who is prying into your life.

stitch.tac.sew

Kim, I’m a big fan, but absolutely feel that some social networking should stay within your personal network. You shouldn’t have to think twice about every update or who is prying into your life.

Bob Kronbauer

I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile now! The only problem is that you have to individually click each of your friends, go into their profile and unfriend them that way, unless I’m missing something? Is there a way to go in and see the list and simply check/uncheck?

Bob Kronbauer

Wait! It was easy! I just shed about 200 people, most of whose names I didn’t even recognize…. ahhhhhhh!

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