When was the last time you ‘fired’ a friend?
Take a moment and think about all the different relationships you maintain at any given time, both personal and professional. Networking, social media, groups and forums, the list goes on. How often do you see people with 1000+ Facebook ‘friends’, following 3000+ people on Twitter, and a member of various networking groups? Granted, those aren’t “real” in the same sense of your family or spouse, but still. That’s a lot of people.
There is a theory called Dunbar’s Number, which states that a person can only maintain approx. 150 stable social relationships. Go ahead and read it if you’ve got some time to kill, or can’t sleep. While it’s a dry read, its a very solid idea. If you take a step back and think, it makes sense. Sure, you can have 1000 friends on Facebook. But how many are actually friends? As in, people you know details of their life, interact with on a personal level (sorry, ‘liking’ something isn’t interacting), and take a vested interest in how they are doing? Not many. And it isn’t because you are a bad person. It’s not mathematically possible.
I’ve noticed this happening myself. As I get older (sshhhh…. I’m almost 30. Don’t tell anyone) I simply don’t have the time to devote to all the different social outlets, both online and in real life. I have a family, a child, a freelance career. All of these things take time, which is very finite resource (until I figure out how to program a time pause machine). So I deleted Facebook (for numerous reasons), which immediately got rid of a lot of noise. I make a point to carefully follow people on Twitter, and look to remove folks whenever possible. It’s not a networking faux-pas, it’s my time and my sanity.
Stanley Lee says
While I accept certain invites from Facebook and LinkedIn, I do not actively manage those “relationships”, as my real supportive friends count can be counted using the fingers of both hands. Most of the so-called “friends” are not as supportive as you like them to be. They either shrug off any remotely-radical life choice we (Untemplaters) make, or better yet, persuade us to do similar things that they are doing perhaps to meet their agendas. It is therefore fair to either ignore those people by defaulting inaction on them, or as Andrew suggested, fire them.
Financial Samurai says
150 seems like a lot… perhaps 100…. or 50 over here.
50 people can change he world if they are well organized.
Simon Richard says
Just like you, I deleted my Facebook account.
When I graduated from high school, I had 250+ Facebook friends. Mostly people I didn’t care about, but I still accepted their friend requests because it would’ve hurt their feelings otherwise.
95% of my Facebook friends didn’t even show up in my news feed because I added them to my block list. In other words, I kept them in my friends list but I had no interest in their statuses and stuff. Eventually I realized how ridiculous this was and I deleted most of my contacts, until I reached 50 friends.
I deactivated my account several times but couldn’t bring myself to delete it completely because I thought having a Facebook account kept me in the loop. Which is true, sadly. But the truth is, none of my friends sent me messages through Facebook, although some of them enjoyed writing random crap on my Wall.
And some people got pissed when I removed them from my friends list… really? I still talked to them in real life, I don’t see the problem. In the end I had enough, so I deleted the account. I have a new e-mail now and I only contact people I WANT to talk to. Much simpler like that.
It’s funny that the Dunbar’s Number theory states 150. My magic number was always 100. Any more than 100 and I felt overwhelmed! Although these days I’ve expanded out a little more.
But I never understood the reasoning behind following so many people on Twitter and Facebook friending half the world. It’s pretty obvious you’re not actually looking at what they Tweet or post. So what’s the point? In a way, it just seems kind of like an insincere friendship/connection. And if it’s “the higher the number you have the cooler you are” concept, well that’s just lame…and very JR high-ish.
I understand the benefits of networking from both a professional and personal standpoint. And social media is a great tool in expanding your social circle, but you can’t be tight with everyone. Besides, do you REALLY want to be tight with everyone? Some of the best relationships are the ones that are more private, more intimate. I value those far more than I value my mere acquaintances.
Funny, I was just thinking about this today. As my life becomes more and more full of responsibilities, wants, needs, people, etc… I become more selective of the people I give my friendship to. The value of a person starts to mean more to me. Not what they can do for me but just– If they have a positive impact in my life. If they are a only drain on my already limited time/mental/emotional resources and give nothing back, I have no problem firing them.
That was a long way of saying: good article.