Today, Facebook reminded me that I joined their social media club thirteen years ago! OMG the things that have come and gone during that time-frame!
I think the highest number of friends I had at one time was around 1700. That was right around the time I was responsible for accumulating payroll data and passing out paychecks for AOTG. It was easier to let staff know about payroll related news through this medium.
I currently have 562 connections. I worked really hard to drop the numbers because, to be honest, there were so many people that I had no personal connection to other than that one time five years ago I handed them a paycheck.
Facebook marked their fifteenth anniversary this past February. I find it interesting that I have been with them since they were two. Holy crap I posted a shi’ton of cryptic music lyrics to “not” let people know I was mad, sad or in love with them. Scouring over songs just to capture that one sentence that would allow the world to eloquently “not” know who I was out-loud secretly talking about. In all honesty, I do not miss those days. So much angst, so little self-love. Those were unhealthy days when I looked for validation not from within and was left feeling without. On the positive, I did realize back then that I loved melancholy music. Maybe it is because the words are more honest?
According to thenextweb.com “Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, got involved in Facebook when he urged Zuckerberg to drop the “The” from the company’s name. Zuckerberg never wanted it in the first place, but since “Facebook.com” was taken he went with it instead. But Parker’s urging and Facebook‘s instant success emboldened Zuck, and he managed to obtain Facebook.com in 2005. At first, the site’s appearance remained unchanged. But later in the year, the company would drop the “The” from its name, calling itself just “Facebook” for the first time.“
When I decided to purge the rosters and cut down the number of “friends” on my list, it was because several “topics” converged at once to encourage me to do this. The number of people for whom I had NO clue who they were disturbed me. If someone sent me an “add” I just clicked confirm and went about my business. Those were the ones I targeted in the first culling of names.
The next set was a (minimally) more difficult. The friends of friends of friends. You would be amazed at how many I accumulated over the years. You have people in common so you must have “things” in common too? Not always the case.
Then, with the election in 2016, there was a more difficult decision regarding people like: we went to grammar school together, we went to church together when I was thirteen, we once worked together, we are twelfth cousins twice removed on my third aunt’s side. The day I arrived at the realization that the only thing holding me back from dropping those names was the fact that I hate confrontation or unfounded drama AND most of these people don’t even know my telephone number because in real life we are not connected, well let’s just say they started dropping like flies. By the beginning of 2017, both of my Parents were gone and my sense of “I need to be nice to this person because we are related” came to an end. That began the serious deep dive into who needed to be removed to keep my sanity and mental health in check. I know there are some of you out there who will poo-poo a person for dropping a Facebook friend because of their political leanings, let me say two things: 1) Facebook is not the real world and if our not being friends on there cuts our familial ties, well, then we should not have been connected in the first place. 2) The current political climate has led me to recognize that there are a lot of people I would not associate with in real life, why have them clot up my feed with horrible memes and commentary that runs contradictory to my core values and beliefs?
Yes, I completely understand that there are MANY people in my life who have opposing views from me. It is not the “opposing views” that led to several decisions, it was the meanness and utter one-sided nature that these people had. If they had a “my way or the highway” attitude, I just wished them well on their journey down the road. If it was the type of person who would call you a name behind your back, you don’t need their once a year comment (usually on your birthday) on your feed.
Earlier this year, I realized that even with this new freedom from the multitude, all I was seeing were business posts or fan pages. I was not seeing posts from the friends that mattered to me. Then I read an article about how the pages you like worked as an algorithm for what you see. I found where I could click to see my “likes” and was mortified that there were 5k in “page likes” that I had accumulated over the decade plus I had been on the site. I decided that on one evening a month (I have a reminder set), I would make it a point to “check and uncheck” my liked pages. I currently have 361 pages liked. The majority belong to friends or causes who matter to me, there are a number of art/photography pages as well as those dedicated to science. I was not amazed to finally start seeing my actual people. People over pages!
The positive side to Facebook, for those who bemoan social media: during the times of both my Parents’ deaths (and throughout their health struggles), I was able to make public posts so that everyone was on the same page removing the necessity of constant phone calls. Hospital room numbers, contact information, medicine change, surgeries… it all went out in public posts. Funeral arrangements – to tell you that that is the thing I am singularly most thankful for from those times would be an understatement. I did not have to call a million people or receive calls from a million people. To have to say those words over and over again would have been more than I could handle. Similarly, the outpouring of love and support, though the words shattered my heart, was positively uplifting during those darkest hours.
Now that I have a “clean” Facebook, I am not filled with dread for what I might find when I open the page.
The most random Facebook friend is Brian… Hey there Brian S! We sat next to each other on a flight between Tenn and NY back in 2009. We have been Facebook connected ever since!
The two most awesome “I have never met you but I love ya just the same” friends: Aidan from Ireland – I reached out to him regarding a band he had ties to and I have been friends with him for almost the entire time I have had a Facebook account. Rob from Mass – he is on my bucket list of must-meet people and probably one of the funniest people I don’t actually know.
So, the lesson: when you hear someone say “Facebook is so negative, there are so many people that are horrible, it is a cesspool” just realize, that is their own personal choice. GIGO (garbage in, garbage out)