Friday, September 28, 2012

Why I deleted my Facebook friends

Earlier this week I exercised what I call the "nuclear option" on my friends' list on Facebook.  I have not completely stopped using Facebook, but as of this date I have one friend on Facebook: my wife Susan.

This is something I have thought about doing for quite some time.  I suppose the final decision came as a result of the consideration of trust, friendship, and connection that I had, thought I had, and/or that I never really had.

I wanted to write this blog post sooner, much like a lot of blog posts/writings that never get made.  My friend Kevin Brown asked me why I deleted all of my Facebook friends, and he was one of a few that I felt needed further explanation.  Of the 211 friends I deleted, six days after he has been the only one to ask why.

While the intent here is certainly not to be dramatic, you must understand that I've been a believer in the potential of Facebook.  In my sphere of influence I've come to be known as someone at least knowledgeable and perhaps thoughtful about Facebook and social networking in general.  I've done a number of trainings on social networking, and I've recently been asked to organize a panel at a national Sociology conference on teaching and social media.  My approach to Facebook has been both a personal and professional approach.

I've just completed covering the chapter in my Introduction to Sociology class on groups and organizations.  This is a very important chapter in the field and an area of consideration that I always enjoy teaching about and exchanging with students.  In such a short period of time our society has moved from online interaction as being anonymous and almost fantasy like to now a complex interplay of social networks in the physical and online world.

Now I'll cut to the chase.  I've tried to be careful with my nurturing of my Facebook experience.  It became apparent over time though that far too many of my Facebook friends viewed Facebook more as a tool for entertainment than as a tool for nurturing personal connections.  I wanted more from friends than very casual interaction obtained through commenting and liking on status updates.  I like to think that most of my life I've sought deeper connections with others.  I was hopeful that Facebook could support my personal efforts of connecting more meaningful with others.  It just didn't turn out that way.

In the process of deleting my Facebook friends I came to realize there were only about 25 that I had any type of semi regular interaction.  I can see in the not too distant future going back to Facebook and narrowing my experience to those that truly want to connect, interact, and nurture one another.

What I have found in this short time since I've pretty much left Facebook is that I'm more at ease, and frankly I find myself being nicer to others.  I've come to realize my daily use of Facebook came to be a crutch for my need for social interaction.  Now that Facebook is not there, I believe I'm gravitating more to interaction in the physical world.  And I like that.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Comment below.


  1. For many people, Facebook is a relevant part of their lives. In my case, it allows me to stay connected, in a small way, with people I would not have had ANY interaction with otherwise. I have been able to reconnect, superficially, with several long, lost relatives. I actually enjoy keeping up with the growing pains of the youth I have worked with or known as they mature--eventually--I hope. However, having defended my Facebook use, let me state I have deleted "Friends" and will continue to do so from time to time. I "Unfriend" "Friends" (what an unfortunate selection of words)when they no longer fit into my Facebook world. Everyone needs to define Facebook for themselves. What do they want it to do for them? In my case, I want to communicate with relatives, FAR AWAY friends, and, most importantly to me, keep up with the creative people both internationally and local. For reasons that would take an epic poem to describe, I cannot attend artistic functions nearly as much as I would like, but I can experience them in a small way through "Posts" and "Comments." These far-away-friends, relatives and artists are the main focus of my Facebook. Like any other tool, Facebook works better if it is kept clean, inspected often, and repaired as needed.

  2. Brandon I concur with you here 1000%! I have come to learn that one's Facebook experience can be quite different from another's.

    All in all my experience on Facebook was an ok one. To be clear I'm not hating on Facebook as a tool our anyone's purpose or intent. I would suggest to others to better understand their use and what they are actually getting out of it. I don't think folks should take connection for granted. I would also encourage others to not let a superficial connection get in the way of that which could be more meaningful. That's where it's easy to convince yourself that connection on Facebook is more than perhaps it actually is.

    I do look forward to probably returning. I suppose those that will have me back will be those that were my friends all along.

  3. I thought about deleting everyone from facebook myself, but instead ended up shutting down my account (it still sits there, I found out that I can't completely delete it). I got discouraged with it because when I would send "friends" messages often they would not reply, or even if they did it was a weak communication. I found myself doing that too. I agree it can be useful, however, as I did like to see what some of my friends, like Kevin Brown who is out of the country often and always up to something interesting, are doing; nevertheless, I had friended people I consider acquaintances at best and the job of sifting through the meaningless posts, to me at least, was more than I could bare.

    I was sitting on facebook at times instead of doing something for myself. Since I moved that distraction out of the way I started exercising and trying to lose some weight which I dearly need to do. I'm not saying that the facebook time translated exactly to exercise time for me, but as I am considering it their timelines coincide. I've been meaning to try to start exercising for months, but just didn't seem to be able to get started. Now I'm using my time to do that.

    I guess I was afraid of cutting only some people off my facebook list because I was worried they would be offended. In the end that honesty would have been better than just wussin' out by closing the page. I missed it at first, especially to log in to various websites, but I use my google profile for that now, so no worries. Overall, I'd say I don't miss it at all. Not knowing what people's kids are wearing or that they have a cyst that the doctor can't diagnose has brightened my life experience I'm pretty sure. No more guilt because I didn't show up at the event I was invited to and said on facebook I'd attend. Sorry I'm so wordy today, but I like the topic. Thanks!