We live in an age where we ‘remember’ our friends’ birthdays because they pop up on Facebook; where we know our old classmates are married because we see the photos in instagram; and what we have in common with our potential suitors is measured by our shared likes on Tinder.
So, considering the general conception that social media has revolutionised communication – and by association, the way we create and uphold relationships – why is it so hard to have a valuable conversation, let alone identify an authentic friendship?
I remember being told as a child that you can never have too many friends. Wrong. With the rise of social media, ‘friendship’ has become a problem.
I have 619 Facebook friends. Not a staggering number in comparison to many: my nephew, Luke, has 2045. The majority of my friends were acquired through education and travel – both of which are transitory. You move, you meet people, you move on. Social media, in many ways, is about making and maintaining connections. But to be honest, maintaining so many friendships can become an exhausting burden.
It’s been suggested that in reality, humans are only capable of sustaining around 150 active friendships at a given time, but nonetheless, many of us have thousands of so-called ‘friends’ on sites like Facebook. But, despite the advances made in technology and communication methods – it would seem that our mental capacities remain somewhat the same. You CAN have too many friends.
To this end, I like to perform an annual Facebook friend cull, in many ways, to validate my ‘real’ friendships, but also just to stop me from going insane. I’m not suggesting that anyone should minimise their list to 150 of their closest friends and family – but sometimes, a little fat-trimming makes it easier to identify those who really deserve your time and affection. Plus, there are only so many candy-crush requests I can take.
So, if you think a cull is the thing for you, here’s my method. Use it wisely.
- Step one is simple. Seek out a distinctive memory of each person. This will establish whether or not they are worth further consideration.
- Next, ask yourself this: ‘Would I say hello to you in the street?’ No? Delete.
Although I probably still have a lot of unsubstantiated virtual friendships at this stage, this initial phase provides an excellent start and gets the ball rolling. However, there’s bound to be a few people you just can’t decide on. Next, carry out an assessment of the given ‘friend’s’ Facebook personality. Usually three strikes are given for incessantly annoying people – who will be terminated even outside of a cull session. However, when deciding whether to make the chop on a particular person, thinking about your social networking no-nos is important.
Here’re some traits of those I’ve jilted.
- Excessive gaming requests.
- Abundant diet or exercise updates.
- Casual Racism – usually ill-informed nonsense about people ‘taykin are jobs.’ Sun-reader alert.
- People who have terrible grammar and spelling. I’m no Shakespeare, and this wouldn’t be a sole reason for elimination – but it certainly wouldn’t help your cause.
- People who constantly post statuses about their ailments.
- People whose profile picture is their cat.
It’s extremely satisfying and somewhat cathartic, and like any de-cluttering, the process rids us of the old and unnecessary, and facilitates the arrival of new, real, friendships.