Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pyramid Scheme

Facebook has a way of taking over. It takes up a ridiculous amount of my time and I am beginning to see it as a kind of pyramid that can, and is, becoming much larger than I want or need. Here's the pyramid, as I see it.



As you can see, the further down the pyramid you go, the bigger it becomes. Currently I have almost 400 Facebook friends. Do I actually know all these people? Heck no! It started innocently enough. I just accepted all the requests for friends that I got, unless we had no mutual friends and I had no idea who they were. But they kept coming and I started feeling overwhelmed. Who are these people, and why do they want to be my friend? A few months ago, in a panic, I started ignoring friend requests, except from people I actually know. Those requests, I discovered, never go away. They just sit there waiting. I now have about 200 of those and they just keep coming. There is something wrong here. Are people in a contest to see who can have the most friends? I don't get it.

I love Facebook. Don't get me wrong. I really do. Look up there at the top of my pyramid. I keep up with my family far and near. I get to see baby pictures of the newest little great niece/nephew immediately. I hear about jobs and moves and marriages and car accidents and elderly in-laws in the hospital and all those things that truly strengthen the bonds within my extended family.

The next tier down are my friends around town—my art buddies and my old neighbors and my women friends and former coworkers. I keep up with their lives and make connections and hear any news they have to share about their families and what they are up to. Kind of the same with old friends who live far away. It is so nice to stay connected in an informal way.

The "old friends I lost and reconnected with via FB" is a very special tier. This is something that Facebook has made possible in a way that has never existed before. I wrote about this a month or so ago. It has been possibly the best gift that Facebook has given me.

Internet friends are people I may or may not have actually met in person, but through listservs and online projects we have developed relationships. Some I have "known" for nearly twenty years. Some I have been able to connect with in person, some I hope to actually meet someday. Somehow they have become people who are part of my circle and mean something to me.

The tiers below this become iffy and questionable. I get a request from Facebook: "Mary Jones would like to be your friend". I see that we have 46 mutual friends. Most of them are online friends. Once upon a time I thought, " if they are a friend of _______ then they must be OK and I'd accept the request. I stopped doing that when I realized that a lot of people just accept all requests. It seems if that goes on and on, pretty soon we are down into that bottom tier and one of these days we will all be Facebook friends with the whole world. Very woo-woo touchy-feely thought but totally unworkable.

The "people who want to sell me something" tier. Well, I never did fall for that one. Except some of them are sneaky and pretend to know you when they don't and there you are—Facebook friends. Until I can un-friend them, that is.

So, I decided I have to draw a line. And this is where it is drawn. This is where I refuse to go. I am un-friending anyone in these bottom tiers.


I guess I'm not going to win the "most Facebook Friends" prize.

22 comments:

  1. Terry - I couldn't agree more - we each need to use our technology and time OUR way. I've consistently rejected offers to play games on fb - it's just not me - but for others playing games is a huge joy. I love fb and everything else, but I'll do it my way....

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm right there with you. I never got as many requests as you get, but I decided not too long ago that I only wanted FB friends who I either knew personally, or followed in some way through the internet. I've further categorized friends by family, close friends, acquaintances, and professional. Now when I post about kids and what i ate for lunch, I can exclude the professional category who really don't need or want to read that stuff. So, as FB is more social than professional to me (high school and ever-moving army friends are on FB), I feel like I can still post the non-art related things hopefully without alienating the professional contacts. Or that's teh theory.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous2:48 AM

    I agree that facebook can gobble up your time. My first thought in reading your post is that you might not have considered all of us who follow your blog and think of you as a friend from there (here). You do such a nice job with it and are generous with your art quilt techniques and are reliably there for us likely in greater numbers than you might imagine. I would consider you a friend even though I am not sure if I have ever introduced myself. I "met" you on the QA blog a few years ago and have followed your blog just for fun. Our lives parallel each others in many ways and one day we may even meet in person at some sort of quilt related event. I wrote out a comment to you last week but I don't think it posted because I goofed up on my account password and gave up. It had to do with Grandkidlets.

    Diane Beckley in Tigard

    (I have to use the anonymous button because I haven't taken the time to figure it out yet.)

    Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Terry. I might just win the prize for the least facebook friends. My grand total is 16. Of these: 9 are close relatives that live quite a way away and we "facebook" and phone, 6 are friends that belong to our local Creative Co-op and we arrange meetings etc. and 1 is a friend that I don't see as often as I would like. I also belong to half a dozen local groups. Otherwise I keep in touch via. blogs and email, I'm a compulsive blog follwer! It does bother me that some of my younger relatives have friends in the hundreds (how can they really KNOW so many people?)and I wonder whether they can see any of my input, so I put nothing of a personal nature on my page.

    ReplyDelete
  5. People are so proud to add just anybody´s profile in order to get a huge number of so called friends! Tried it for a month or two and was happy to delete my profile.
    I recommend! Lol

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah Terry...you have seen the dark side! I on the other hand have only 13 friends on my facebook. I use it to talk with my immediate family who do no live where I live. I told my good friends to not even ask me because I want to see them regularly or talk on phone/email...not facebook. All the requests I get I hit the ignore button and they go away. I have come to believe that facebook arbitrarily sends our friend requests if there is any minute connection...because why would the mother of a former girlfriend of my son want to be my friend??? her daughter is married???

    I am really happy with my 13 friends because my blog takes most of my computer time and I like it! LOL

    Anna
    www.wooliemammoth.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is a huge time sink. Maybe younger people see the "friending" thing differently. I found it exciting at first but then hated that I was connected to people that I had tried to get rid of! There they were again. So, FB for my "business" and selective FB for "socializing". Oh, and I have no compunction about ignoring any request.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I say, "Good for you!" I also fell into that trap of accepting friend requests of anyone I ever knew, even friends of friends. I have a large extended family, and that is my main reason to have the Facebook page. I recently came to the conclusion I had to pare it back, so I started removing friends that didn't interract with me, and I don't accept friend requests unless I truly see myself having a lot of interraction with the person. I don't need all the complications a huge friends list would bring.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My husband and I were just talking about this. His cousins (college aged)have over 1000 friends. How do they keep track of all of them?

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have captured it. I quit responding right after I signed up, so I may win the prize for the FEWEST Facebook friends! I can live with that.
    quiltfever.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think most of us are in the same boat. I have tried to limit stuff by checking off the security features. My posts can only be seen by friends. I do not friend anyone who looks like they run a company and only want to sell me stuff. If I accidentally friend them, then they get unfriended fast. I don't sign up for fan pages. I think you can get rid of the old requests on one of the pages. I love reading your blogs...but I do not think we are FB friends.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your right on the mark! I think I need to weed out some people as well. I have set up "categories" and if it is extremely personal stuff (like pictures of my kiddos in their school shirts) I don't post to those people. But it would be nice not to have to remember to do that all the time. I won't be offended if you "unfriend me".

    ReplyDelete
  13. I would rather read your blog--you do a great job. I got off ( if you ever can) Facebook. My time is precious and I figure I can call or e-mail people who are really important to me. Janet, Friday Harbor, Wa

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love your pyramid... I think it accurately depicts what most people are experiencing on facebook. I keep my friends list just to those people I would actually talk to about my personal life... and that is hard. I turn down people all the time.
    I consider the bottom half of your pyramid as those people that should be relegated to a fan page. Of course then that is a whole new commitment of time :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I totally agree with you, Terry, and have done what you do. My FB friends are actually people I know, and I prefer to keep it that way. There was a funny cartoon in a recent New Yorker that showed one fellow reading an obituary to another, and he read "He is survived by a wife, two sons, and 47 twitter followers." I laughed and thought "and 432 facebook friends..."

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have found some amazing people by friending someone that only knew me via being someone else's friend. So I tend to gather them all. I don't like to friend people who don't use their real name. Anyone who tries to sell me stuff gets hidden. People who start spouting bible verses get hidden or dropped. Same with right wing babble.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I did the same thing as you, but was very selective from the start. However, I do have a fan page for my etsy shop and have participated in the 'fan me and I'll fan you back' game. My solution was to create a list, and only put people I actually care to read about on it.
    So, all those other shops I fanned are still there, but I don't see them most of the time. I also did this with several members of a family I know locally who use facebook to constantly plug their religious views. I serve on the board of a small non-profit with one of them, so un-friending wasn't really an option.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I too became obsessed with Facebook - accepting requests from friends, friends of friends, and strangely even Farmville held a strange hold over me. Finally, I realized how much time I was wasting and forced myself to quit cold turkey. It was because I quit FB that I started my own blog.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I still prefer keeping up with blogs and emails but some of my family doesn't. I don't like Facebook much and I only check it once in a while and from the very beginning I decided I wasn't going to accept just any request. Although it still has a way of growing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Somehow I have to say "me too" since I can't click "like." But the comments here have taught me something about FB that will be helpful. I too have a long list of wannabees, friends of friends or people who are on some list that I'm on who invited everyone else on the list.

    By the way, your graphs are marvelous. I think I'm going to have to hire you (after the kids get well and your article is written and the large quilt finished) to help me out with my website content design and the blog that I'm trying to establish there. I'm feeling more and more inept about making my web presence look decent. I need a nice clean eye to establish some rules that I can follow.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous9:42 AM

    I am so glad I found this blog! I tried Facebook a couple of years ago in order to receive info about a reunion and hated it (it was really hard to delete the account too). I want to start selling some of my art quilts and I am completely overwhelmed on how to even start. Today I stumbled on this blog by surfing the net to see how others are selling their artwork. People keep telling me I have to create a Facebook page, website and set up an Etsy store. I feel worn out before even beginning!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am rarely on FB. It reminds me of air-kissing while looking over the person's shoulder to scan the room for other more intersting people. Impersonal. Superficial.

    My relatives mostly don't use FB, so I keep up with people by email, phone and (gasp) that paper-and-a-pen "letter" thingy.

    However, I do have to say that I am now a member of a really fun knitting group because a friend of an acquaintance 'friended' me and invited me to the group.

    ReplyDelete