Simplifying my digital life: dealing with Facebook

Sometime ago I began thinking about simplifying my digital life and have been chipping away at it since then. But there is one big blue monster that stands above them all: Facebook.

The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo.

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Facebook and it’s games generally get more of my time than they should. That’s just my general lack of will power and laziness. But that’s not my biggest issue – friendship and facebook is. Recently my one of my friends wrote this about facebook and community and wondered whether to cull her facebook friends.

The same thought has occurred to me. Somewhere along the line I’ve gathered more than 500 of them and a fair number of those I have never met in person or spoken to or have even the faintest clue about their life. I’m too busy playing games to look at their profile.

I enjoy keeping track of my friends thoughts and comings and goings, I enjoy the easy facility of leaving a playful comment, encouraging word or whatever. I enjoy the humour and occasional flashes of inspiration or heart warming tales. But there’s no way I can keep up with 500 of those days or even find them amongst all the triviality and banality that keeps coming up.

So I wonder what is Facebook for? It’s not business contacts – for that I could use LinkedIn, it’s not an online address book for that I use Plaxo, it’s not my key way of articulating thoughts and teaching (that’s here) and for short pithy links it’s often Twitter (Tim Chester has some interesting thoughts on Twitter). So Facebook is really just for keeping up with my friends and so I think for it to be more useful to me I need less not more friends.

Less is more, more friends on Facebook doesn’t make me any more loved just more connected, it doesn’t make me more known just more widely distributed, it doesn’t always make for more and sometimes makes for less.

So I’ve taken the facebook button off the blog, I’ve become more selective on friend requests and if I haven’t ever met you, spoken to you or know the first thing about you please don’t be offended if I say we’re not friends. But you’re more than welcome here and if we talk then, well, who knows.

I’m open to change on this, it’s not a settled once and for all policy but for Facebook to work for me and build community then something needs to change. What would you do?

2 thoughts on “Simplifying my digital life: dealing with Facebook”

  1. AJWSmith says:

    Thanks; I found this post thought provoking.
    I really love Facebook (and Twitter) but for the last three months I’ve been “fasting” from Facebook. I closed down my Facebook account as it was distracting me too much. But it has always been my intention to return – I find Facebook to be a wonderful means of keeping in touch with people and learning about their lives (engagements, babies born, new jobs, etc.) and coming across interesting news, blog posts or quirky information not seen on the well-trodden cyber-highways.
    Before I dive back in, I want to have a well-thought out Facebook strategy to ensure I maximise the good aspects and minimise the bad. Your post will help me do this. I also found this post by Michael Hyatt very useful:
    http://michaelhyatt.com/re-thinking-my-facebook-strategy.html
    It’s my conviction that in this new age of information, an important aspect of Christian discipleship is how we select and use our information channels. In the past this was largely done for us by the physical limitations of meeting people (or writing to them using paper and ink) and by people who acted as filters and editors (e.g. newspaper editors, TV producers, church leaders).

    1. Simplepastor says:

      Thanks for the links to Hyatt’s posts, I found those really helpful!

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