I confessed the most awful realization to a group of friends recently over dinner.
I’ve been unfriending people on their birthdays.
It’s like I get this message, It’s Robert Goldberg’s birthday, say happy birthday!–and then I think, who is Robert Goldberg?
Happy birthday Robert.
I know. Horrible. Especially when you say it out loud.
Maybe even more horrible when I write it here.
The problem is, we all use Facebook differently. For some, it’s a Rolodex of everyone they’ve ever met. For some it’s a colleague collection contest–a race to see how many you can have, should you be able to trade each one in for a gold dubloon someday. For me right now, it’s actual friends. People I stay in contact with because we have a relationship; one beyond, “I read your blog” or “we shook hands at a party once” or “we both know that guy, the one you were in gym class in fifth grade, the one who really liked apple juice back them.”
I hate to think that it’s hurtful to anyone though when I realize, eh…nothing in common here. Let’s part ways.
I think of it as uncluttering.
Now there is no controversy around the idea of uncluttering your stuff. Heck, there are entire blogs devoted to it. When you unclutter your stuff, no one hates you. Well, except maybe Nate who hates getting rid of a single thing he owns. He’ll be like “No, not that Chess King shirt from 1994! I might wear it in a comedy sketch someday! No, not that paper clip! Not that empty Grolsch bottle!” Because, you know. Men require empty Grolsch bottles in their homes. It’s genetic.
But otherwise? The publisher who sent me the unsolicited copy of the faith-based parenting book is really not going to be distraught if I leave it out with recycling. The carney who kindly handed the kids a stuffed squid at a theme park last year will not come to our home searching for it. At least I hope not. Eek.
But right now, out of desperation and a major case of Finalstrawitis, I have entered full-fledged uncluttering mode. I’m tearing through the closet and tossing old clothes. Handing dog-eared Stephen King paperbacks to neighbors. Donating the games with the missing pieces. I have yet to declare email bankruptcy but I have to say, I’m close. And I’m paring down the social media clutter too.
I am simply overwhelmed with all that I am doing these days, and more so, with the things I would like to be doing but can’t get to, through all the clutter. Hey! Funny enough, I am delivering a keynote on this very thing at the Type A Parent Conference this weekend. Should I have time to finish it.
(Just kidding Kelby. It’s finished. Mostly.)
I really have no hesitation about simplifying my social media life, except for one teeny thing: sometimes, people notice.
And then they get sad.
It’s not the actual action that’s hurtful, I’m convinced it’s the damn words: Unfollowing. Unfriending. It just seems so…un-nice.
Can’t we call it something else?
(I got nothing. But I’m open.)
Personally, I don’t use those tattle-tale services that ping you every time someone unfollows you. I’m surprised more people do–who has the time to track that stuff? Besides, it’s not like it tells you why the person unfollowed me, and isn’t that what matters? Maybe I said Fuck once. Or twice. Maybe they’re Tea Party people. Maybe I tweet too much about parenting. Maybe I don’t tweet enough about parenting. Maybe they gave it a try for a week, and like that stupid Cookie Diet, it just didn’t work out. Maybe they’re just not that into me.
Or maybe it’s what Gwen Bell does; she actually unfollows then refollows an entirely new group of people every few months just to discover new voices I’ve found myself inspired by her astute observation that the more social media noise there is, the less she hears. I bow to thee, oh Master, but I’m not quite so Buddhist with my things–or Twitter people–just yet.
But doesn’t that sound like a great place to get to some day?
So right now I’m taking baby steps, for my own sanity. People on Twitter whom I no longer recognize? Gone. Continual drama starters? Done. Friends whose twitter stream is jam-packed with giveaway entries, strong evidence of branded hashtag addiction, and bored chatter–I love you, but I don’t love your tweets. I’m sure you understand.
Let’s have drinks instead. I really think real friends connect better that way anyway.
As for you FourSquare junkies, don’t get me started. I know you’re really proud of being the mayor of JennieLee’s Hair + Nails in Pleasantville, but I kinda wish that was between you and JennieLee.