Many months ago I was dragged into some dumb old internet drama because someone thought I was part of a circle of popular bloggers I was never a part of. I didn’t even know who most of the people involved were! I have no idea why I was connected to this drama, it was VERY weird. It would be like if someone suddenly assumed I was actively involved in a group of popular football bloggers. I mean, I know they exist but I’m definitely not part of that community.
That person misinterpreted a personal post on Facebook to be about this blog drama (which I didn’t know about since I’m not part of that circle) when it was really about a local running group I’m part of. The whole stupid incident reminded me: I have like 800 Facebook friends and I’m probably only really friends with like 20 people.
So that day, when I was still really angry to be brought into something I was never a part of and in such a personal way as a screen grab of a Facebook post, I did some Googling and found out that if you look at the page that lists ALL of your Facebook friends, they’re ordered using some special algorithm that ranks them by “activity level” with your profile. (I’m not sure if the new FB design does this, BTW). I scrolled all the way to the bottom which took awhile, and just started unfriending people by the dozens.
I would do a quick scan to make sure there weren’t any people I still feel connected to even though we obviously don’t interact much on Facebook because some of those people – like an old high school friend who I communicate with once a year or so via FB messenger when he has running accomplishments he wants to tell me about – just never use Facebook at all and that’s why there’s no interactions.
But those scans were QUICK. I did not take the time to think about most of the people I unfriended. I think I was probably also really irritated from years of trying to “debate” politics with people who still don’t think Obama was born in the United States or people who deny white privilege and I was kinda using that day of MASS UNFRIENDING to cleanse my palette of years of negative Facebook interactions.
And basically I unfriended like 20 people at a time until I made it far enough up the list to start seeing real friends who I do interact with periodically. That left me a hair over 500 I think, which is still probably too many Facebook friends, but I was starting to see names of people I trusted knew me well enough not to take a screen grab of my posts to share with other people. I’ve worked like 5 jobs and served on 3 different volunteer boards and had kids in sports and 5 different schools since I got Facebook in 2008 so I figured 500 was an adequate number. I did a scan of that final “list” and felt relatively confident no one in that list would be an asshat in that same way.
All of this is to say that I have conveniently created quite a friendly Facebook bubble since that day. I don’t fear isolating myself in a political bubble of like-minded people because I watch Fox News with my Mom several times a day so I am well acquainted with what “the other side” thinks right now. I also get my news from several different sources – not just Facebook – so I don’t worry about isolating in that bubble of exposure. But Facebook is a nice place to be for me now. I get to have conversations with people about homeschooling and curly hair and my Mom’s health and I’m not constantly having to “unfollow” people just to keep my blood pressure down.
I mean, other than the Trump supporting family I unfollowed years ago and didn’t unfriend because I see them regularly and that would definitely cause more drama than I want to deal with.
But it’s nice! I highly recommend it! Especially if you also remove yourself from groups that stress you out. Turns out Facebook can be just nice places for conversations amongst friends during a pandemic if it’s not also populated with conspiracy theorists and racists and misogynists! Who knew?
Now…if you happen to have been caught in that “unfriend” drama because you maybe don’t use Facebook much and so were in the bottom part of that “activity level” list, I’m so sorry. I did scan fast because I was fueled by anger!