Are you or someone you know a collector of Facebook friends? Do you know someone with hundreds or thousands of friends and wonder how they find the time and achieve the personality to be that social? Are you concerned about your online privacy?
In this article we review pros and cons of deleting Facebook friends around the topics of privacy, professionalism, and toxic people, and valuable ways to enhance online relationships with those we choose to remain in our digital lives.
Pro – If you keep only people you know and trust as Facebook friends, you can feel good hoping that what you post will be respected and kept private. Your real-life friends know you best, and are more likely to support you and not take things you write out of context, even when you’re pouring your soul out onto your wall. Regularly check and adjust Facebook privacy settings if you don’t want everyone knowing everything about your Facebook activity.
Con – The things you let people know can both harm and help you. You can delete a potentially valuable network of people who in the future may offer advice or connections when you are looking for a job, housing, clients, or anything you need an answer to or assistance with.
Pro – Even if you get along with your boss and co-workers, it’s not advised to include them in your personal Facebook community. Unless you rarely post and post nothing that can be considered negative or taken out of context in any way (including photos and shared posts), keep work at work and home at home. People you’re linked to on Facebook can also read what you comment on other people’s posts and see what events you’re interested in whether you attend them or not. You can lose the respect of customers and higher ups for the smallest things; it’s too easy for social media activity to be interpreted in ways you never thought imaginable.
Con – If you delete the people you currently work with and see them at work the next day, bad news, broham…you just made things worse. Consider not adding these people in the first place. You can also start a fresh Facebook page that includes only your most personal friends and family.
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn
Pro – Online or in-person, the people you affiliate with become you, and you become them. Do the 389 Facebook friends you have bring you up, drag you down, or are they okay people to have around? Would it make a difference in your life to delete those responsible for the posts that always make you feel sad, hurt, or upset you in any way? You can “unfollow” them, and avoid seeing their posts all together, but they still have access to yours.
Con – We all experience rough times at some point in life. Venting sadness, frustration, and depression in a healthy way is good, but not everyone is capable of seeing a therapist, exercising it out, writing it down in a journal, or talking privately about their situation to anyone other than their 589 Facebook friends. If you don’t give a potentially toxic person the chance to let you see the non-toxic side of them, you may be giving up too soon. This is your chance to be a shining star in that person’s life, and become more of a friend by listening to their problems and offering positive feedback, and even scheduling time to meeting up with them in person or talk on the phone. Perhaps you’re what they need to help purge the toxicity. If you’re not willing to take the steps to become a better friend, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider your digital connection with this person.
Three easy ways to enhance personal relationships with Facebook friends
- Write positive comments in their posts or on their wall now and again. It’s easy to be self-conscious and take silence as a sign of not being “liked.” If you like someone, let them know with a nice comment now and again. It can be a confidence booster, and will invite them to look your way with a smile. It’s the modern way of sending a holiday card to someone year around. It’s amazing how you suddenly get holiday cards, in the form of Facebook likes and comments, in return.
- Send a personal message via Facebook. Liking a post and typing a nice comment is great, and the occasional one-on-one is gold. If you’re not comfortable enough to text or call (assuming you have their cell number), send a private congratulatory, happy birthday, or other positive message via Facebook. Although it can seem uncomfortable (after all, we are living in the day of freaking out when someone knocks on the door or rings the doorbell), it can be a real game-changer toward a deeper personal connection with an online friend.
- Invite the people you want to get to know better to real-life Facebook-promoted events. Whether they respond or not is up to them, but the step you take to invite them is your way of taking the initiative to welcome them into your real world. Go even deeper, and send them a personal message about the invite you sent and how nice it would be to see them.
Research suggests that people have trouble maintaining more than 150 real-life friendships at a time. It’s called “Dunbar’s Number” after the Oxford University anthropologist who discovered the phenomenon. Dumbar claims that the number of friendships beyond 150 begins to “strain the cognitive capacity of the human brain.”
Facebook’s own research reflects a similar finding, and has come up with interesting data on the online “friend” phenomena. Watch this 15-minute Ted Talk for more juicy research tidbits..
Isabella Guajardo, founder and owner of Bella Organizing, is a San Francisco Bay Area professional organizer offering home organizing, interior redesign, and residential move management services throughout the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. Call (510) 229-7321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Gift certificates are available.
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