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.