So I had some time to kill before an interview with the Bitter Esters Brewhouse brewer this morning (more on that later), and I happened across this article about a “Facebook cleanse” on Slate. Since I’m off of Facebook for the summer, it called out to me. Would I find some helpful hints for more fulfilling FB use when I re-engage with the site? Would it shock me? Would I decide to delete my account altogether?
The answer is no for most of those questions. The author, Dan Kois, explained that he uses the birthday feed to pick friends to either keep or eliminate, and that was a novel idea. If the person who is having the birthday is one Dan would truly want to wish a “Happy birthday,” they remain friends. If not, that person gets off’d. So that was a new concept to me-definitely one I like. But when I signed up for FB it was to keep in touch with people all around the world. Who knows when I’ll need a recipe from Thailand, or a place to crash in California? See, for me, despite its annoyances, FB is like a big, modern Rolodex. Yes, I do genuinely care about many of my friends on the site, and want to wish them a good day on their date of birth. So the “signal-to-noise” ratio of worth to worthless on the site is overwhelming, but not so much so that I want to delete people for just posting dumb comments.
No, for me, getting a Candy “Crush” or “FlappyBird” or whatever game request over and over and over… that’s the kind of noise that helps me decide who to off. And really, at less than a month into my summer without Facebook, I’m doing just fine knowing those friends are there, if I need them. I mean, those friends and I have each other’s phone numbers and email addresses. Even snail mail addresses! Why yes, I DO actually use snail mail to correspond with friends.
So although I potentially sound crass in my need for FB–networking–it’s not like I’m the only one: Kois himself admits that he friended random people just to grow his “brand.” I’m not trying to grow a brand on FB, so that’s not my need there. I would like to think I can still use FB in the way I intended when I signed up for it years ago. Which means I probably won’t use the Bday scroll any more or any differently than I do now.
Because really… if we are friends in real life but don’t hang out because a) we live on different continents, FB isn’t the thing that will draw us together– only a trip will. And if b) we are friends who live near each other but don’t hang out anyway, we aren’t missing each other on Facebook anymore than we are in the real world.