geoffrey gauchet

The 300 Rule

Almost a year ago, I instituted the “300 Rule” for myself which surprisingly has nothing to do with Spartans at all. No, the 300 Rule is a self-imposed rule on myself to limit the number of “Friends” I have on Facebook to 300. I had over 400 “friends” when I decided this. My News Feed was pretty cluttered, and hiding people seemed silly. Hiding a person’s posts means I do not care what they have to share, so why even be friends with them? That’s when I decided to start cutting “friends” and as I kept going, it sort of became a game to see how low I could go. 300 became my target.

There’s a saying that you can’t know more than 150 people at a time, which is why Path originally decided to allow only 150 friends on their service (an unnecessary limit for me as only 5 people I know use Path and none of them have updated in months). It’s a nice idea, but 150 seems low. Between family, co-workers, and a decent network of friends, you can quickly top 150, especially if your family has a fair amount of Irish or Italian ancestry. So, for me, doubling that to 300 seemed reasonable.

The initial cut from 410 or so people down to 299 was fairly easy. I removed grammar school classmates, guys from high school I never talk to, people that rarely posted, people I only knew via the Internet, ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends of people that are still my friends. Dropping over 100 people was pretty easy.

Then I got a Friend Request. At 299 friends, I decided to accept as it was a friend of a friend I see at the occasional party. And a few weeks later, I got another Request. An old high school buddy I actually was friends with. I wanted to accept. I would have to sacrifice an existing “friend” to accept this Request. I quickly found  a local business that was set up as a person account instead of a Page, so I deleted them.

Today I noticed I had 304 “friends”. I assume Facebook doesn’t count “friends” that have deactivated their accounts, so when their accounts get reactivated, they get added back into your account. This is where I guess I hit 304. No matter the reason, it was clear people would need to get cut. 

It took me much longer to find candidates this time around as over the past year I had pruned enough noise from my Friends List that there aren’t too many people to cut anymore. I think this is a good problem to have. I find that my News Feed generally has more content that engages and interests me than it used to. However, I have about 8 pending Friend Requests. Will I accept them all eventually? Maybe. My account is public and people can subscribe to my posts without me “Friending” them, so it’s not 100% necessary for me to accept.

When viewing your Friend List, Facebook sorts people in order of how often you connect with them, whether it be you liking or commenting on their posts, or the other way around. The people at the top are the people with whom you’re most active, while the people at the bottom you rarely, if ever, communicate with on Facebook. I start from the bottom and work my way up.

As time goes on, you change and your friends change and the people who mean the most to you shift. Someone who’s a casual acquaintance today could be a close friend a year from now, and vice-versa. As you drift from people, the need to keep them as a Facebook friend lessens. 

Facebook friendship is often looked at as the Official Ledger of Friendships. Hell, all of Facebook is. People say a relationship isn’t official until it’s “Facebook Official” which is obviously a load of crap. If I “unfriend” you from Facebook, it’s generally nothing personal. We just don’t talk in person or even click “Like” to each other anymore and that’s a simple fact of life. People change and grow and sometimes you just don’t have stuff in common anymore. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s just humanity and reality.

So, for me, keeping my Friends List down to 300 not only keeps Facebook less noisy, but it makes it more personal and interesting, and it gives me a reality check every so often. 

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July 3, 2012
I Ain't Wastin' Nuthin'! »
November 2, 2012
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