The following is a guest post by Joseph Baker. His bio is at the end of the article.
Like millions of other people, I have a Facebook page. I fought against the trend for years before I finally accepted an invitation to join, and we have been inseparable since. I recently bought my first smart phone, and the Facebook app was one of the first things I installed. This site offers me the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and learn more about new ones, and has added a source of entertainment to my dull life.
One thing I have never understood, however, is how someone can have hundreds of friends. I can understand with celebrities, but there is no way that an average Joe, like me, is friends with hundreds or thousands of people. Now maybe I sound old-fashioned when I say this, but how is it possible to keep up with that many people? Why would you want that many people accessing your notes, updates and photos of your children and family vacations?
The Internet offers many opportunities that make your life easier and more streamlined. Sites like Angie’s List take the headache out of finding contractors, while other sites offer dating advice, cleaning tips, lessons in etiquette, and so forth. Are people now using social networking sites like Facebook to help make friends? It is my contention that interpersonal relationships and their formation should still be done in person, not in the impersonal environment of the Internet.
And, what about all of these new-found friends? Do you really know them? I receive many invitations from people I don’t know; at first, I accepted any and all of these. I felt popular when I saw my friends list growing, but then I started posting regular updates, and I realized that I had no desire for people I had never met and knew nothing about to know when I was going on vacation, or what color I was painting my kitchen. I started feeling as if I was on display, and I found that I was censoring myself.
At that point, I went through my friend folder and started removing people. My rule was to remove anyone I had never met. Even though this lessened my popularity substantially, it increased my confidence that I could resume posting personal updates without worrying that someone would take advantage of my openness. I later removed all of my pity adds (the people you add out of guilt, but don’t really want on your page), and I have been very strict with myself ever since, only adding people that I know and like.
If you have a Facebook page, I challenge you to go through your friends and do the same. Chances are that most of the people you remove won’t even notice that you’ve done so, as they likely make little or no attempts to keep up with all of the people on their page. Rather than putting your business out there for random people to see, save your personal thoughts, likes and dislikes, and photos for those who have earned the privilege of seeing them. This way, you can be more open and share details of your life with ease and comfort, which is what Facebook was created for in the first place.