what happens when you halve your facebook friends?
acebook is making us weaker human beings. I read this in an article early last September. And after reading about such effects of social media in general and Facebook in particular, I decided to challenge myself. At 30, the age by when they say you’ve (ideally) surrounded yourself with people who will remain by your side for the rest of your life, I decided to edit my Facebook ‘friends’ list from 1970 people down to 985. Exactly half. I even put up a status update saying as much (which immediately got over 200 ‘likes’, now down to 70 since many of those who liked it are no longer on my list, cue evil laughter). I called it my act of peaceful disassociation. I felt very brave, but had no idea where it would lead. I had no clue that it would bring me clarity upon revelation upon epiphany. All I was looking for was just a more manageable friends list, and an online existence with less performance anxiety.
In his masterpiece Walden; or, Life in the Woods, 19th-century American environmentalist and author Henry David Thoreau rants about the need for “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” That was my premise. I wanted first to rid myself of the people whom I didn’t know at all. These were the strangers who had added me because I belong to their sphere of work. Or those who at one point had journeyed through my life. An ex of a once-close friend who had wanted to become a part of her inner circle. Or models who hoped to be in closer touch with me so as to have a better chance at shooting for Harper’s Bazaar. But my immediate concern was this: How would I delete those who had ‘liked’ my status? How do you negate those who have agreed with you? Somehow, it felt wrong. But I would face worse.
So for a while, I tiptoed around those who had liked my status update, and went on deleting the strangers and models (excepting models who were also friends). And most surprisingly—and with the greatest ease—my family. Off went my aunts and uncles, and cousins whom I didn’t particularly like