To remove or not to remove?

I have noticed a trend over the last year or so.  I’ll be facebooking, and I’ll come across a status that says something like, “If you’re reading this, you made the cut!  Doing some facebook friend cleaning.”

And I get it, I really do.  I have been tempted many times to go through my friends list and delete people I don’t speak to any more, or who, truthfully, I can’t remember why we’re friends on facebook since I can’t remember where I met them off of facebook…  For those of us who used facebook when it was still a college thing (remember that?  Remember what it was like to try to explain facebook to non-college students? “ummm, it’s this website, and I put my name on it, and I put stuff I like, and I get to be friends with people on it.” “Like myspace?”  “NO!  No, this is way better. It’s… it’s blue and white.”) we probably added the person we met that one Tuesday night at that one campus event where there was free food.  The conversation went something like this:

“Oh hey, You go to this school.  We must have something in common.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you are cool too.”

“Hey are you on facebook?”

“Yeah!”

“Me too!  Isn’t it cool?”

“It so is.  I’ll add you.”

“Cool.”

And now, thanks to that revelatory interaction you get to read their status “updates” that change about every 5 minutes (I’m sorry, that’s not an “update.”  That is running commentary.  You are not a sports event, I do not need to know all that.) and now you know everything about their relationship, their job, their feelings on Obama, the birth of their child, and their breakfast.

Great.

So I get it.  I get the cleaning of the facebook friends.  But I think there is something to say for letting some people stay on your facebook friends list.  Even if you never talk to them.  Here are a just a few benefits to keeping those “friends.”

1) You’ll find out about stuff
I have a true acquaintance, really I haven’t spoken to him since the summer I met him.  He is now living in LA, working to become a screenwriter.  Now, why do I care?  Well, I found this out, because he posted a blog that he wrote about his journey to LA, and what he’s doing to realize his dream.  I would not have seen this blog if we were not friends on facebook.  And I’m really glad I saw this blog.  Because it delved into tough issues like, should you have a crappy, tiring job in the industry you want to break into and no time, or lots of free time since you have a boring, basic 8-5 job that’s not in the industry and you don’t care about it… in other words, the classic “do I need to love what I do? or can I hate what I do, but love it since it allows me to do the stuff that I love to do?”  This is the debate of our generation, and I like reading about it, because I still don’t know where I land on it.  Plus, to be frank, his story inspired me. There have been times that I’ve learned about past sort-of friends and their new jobs or endeavors, and it’s given me ideas about things I could pursue, or ways to achieve that weird dream I have through special funding or a weird non-profit I’ve never heard of. And maybe that’s lame, but that’s how you keep inspired, get ideas for stuff you should do, develop opinions, etc… by NETWORKING.  Remember, facebook is a social network, not a club reserved for BFFs.

2) Avoid the awkward
So I really think it’s best to avoid deleting friends that you see on a regular basis, even if you’re not on good terms.  Very few of us ever know when someone has deleted our friendship… until, for some strange reason you go looking for that person, and they’re not there. Has this happened to you?  It’s happened to me, and quite honestly, it ticks me off.  Which is lame, but then I wonder what I did, and should I re-add them, and maybe they just closed their account, but maybe not, maybe I said something stupid… but ANYWAY the point is… what happens when you and that person (that you see on at least a semi-regular basis) make amends, or have to work on something together, or… I don’t know… SOMETHING.  Then it will be awkward.  It will.

3) You never know when you’ll need something.
If I went around willy nilly removing all the people that I don’t talk to any more… then I wouldn’t have cool things, like someone to meet up with if I’m ever in Italy, or a place to stay if I’m ever in Boston, or like someone who might be able to proof my resume if I ever decide to go into an obscure career field.  Facebook friends are really good for those “you never know when you’ll need….” moments.

4) You never know when someone will need you.
Maybe you have some random talent, ability, connection, expertise, whatever.  And maybe that person that you haven’t talked to in 4 years happens to know that about you, and needs whatever you had, and maybe needs it in a way that it could become a really cool project or a really awesome job or just some money in some way… and now maybe they’re looking to contact you, but they don’t know how because “OMG, I can’t believe they deleted me from facebook…”  Yeah.  That just happened.

Now, I’m not against deleting facebook friends entirely.  If you’ve had a break up and need to delete your ex for your sanity, go for it.  If this is someone who is literally just filling up your newsfeed with trash and you have no desire to reconnect with them ever, go for it.  But if it’s someone who’s on the fence… consider letting them hang around on your network.

And if you MUST do a complete friends overhaul… then maybe you should just head on over to Google+

What makes you delete a friend from facebook?  Are you on Google+?

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