mnmlist: why i deleted 1,000 Facebook friends

Today I deleted 1,031 friends from Facebook. It was liberating.

As I talked about before, having a ton of friends on social networks is a major pull on your attention, and results in superficial relationships anyway. I prefer deeper relationships when possible.

Facebook hasn’t worked well for me as a social network in the past. I loved connecting with close friends and family, and old friends from high school. But as I added friends without any criteria, it became too much — a stream of people leaving updates, sending me “gifts”, inviting me to all kinds of things, leaving things for me on my “wall”. I couldn’t stand it, and rarely checked Facebook. Twitter became my social space.

In the last month or two I’ve slowly been unfriending people on Facebook, a dozen or so at a time. It was a tedious process, so I did it in small chunks. But with more than 1,500 friends (at the peak), it would take all year to unfriend everyone.

So today, with the help of a reader on Twitter, I found a faster method: go to Account, then “Edit friends” and click the “X” next to people’s names. There was still an annoying popup confirmation dialog box, but with my mouse hovering over the “X”, and a finger on the Enter key, I could do it quickly.

It took me 36 minutes to delete more than 1,000 friends. My criteria: I only left actual, real-life friends and family, plus old friends from high school. I got down to 99.

Yes, I could have just deleted my account and started from scratch. But it would have taken me much more than 36 minutes to re-friend the 99 close friends, family & old high school friends again.

If you’re a reader or someone I know online, you didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It just means I had to find a more manageable way. I prefer communicating with you on Twitter, so feel free to @zen_habits me there if you want to send me a message. I prefer public messages over private DMs — it’s transparent and makes the most of the responses I type.

I really do love my readers. It’s just that Facebook wasn’t the way for me to connect with you.

Read more: How to Reclaim Your Attention.