Step 59 - How Many (Facebook) Friends Do You Need?
I remember when Facebook first came into our lives, we were all kind of proud of the fact that our friend count was growing. The more there is social media in our lives, the more I realize how delusional we all were.
How many friends do you need? I think that the less you have, the better off you are. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and deleted over 260 Facebook “friends” (I didn’t even know who those people were.) And this week, I will probably delete another hundred or more. Why? Because I noticed that the number of people I’m interested in is getting smaller and smaller. And it’s mostly because I have no idea what my friends are doing – there are just too many people on my profile to follow even a few of them.
The other thing is – how many people do you actually want to follow? And most importantly – why do you want to follow them? I have to have really great memories with you or you have to really inspire me or make me laugh for me to actually check out your feed. I don’t have this desire to catch up with another photo of your kid or the tenth selfie you’ve posted. If this is all you have, I’m just simply not interested. And you shouldn’t be either. Do you really want to spend your day looking at other people’s lives? I don’t mind looking at your travel photos, especially if you went to a place I haven’t been to yet, but looking at similar photos being posted day after day makes no sense to me. I think that a very valid question we should all ask ourselves is – what are we looking for in social media? Are you really interested in catching up with your friends or do you just want to compare your life to theirs and see whose turns out looking better by comparison? I bet that that’s the case for most people (whether you want to admit it or not).
I recently discovered something that some of you might have already – my friends in real life are more interesting than any on my Facebook or Instagram feed. And once I discovered that, the online world didn’t take up my time anymore. I will check it out for a few minutes a day – I’m mostly looking for inspiration - but that’s enough for me.
The truth is that you don’t need that many friends. You only need a few of them, in real life, next to you. Not 20, 50 or 100 online. The virtual ones won’t help you when something is happening in your life. They won’t be with you or meet with you. And the other thing is – if you really want to build a long lasting friendship, you need to give it your attention and your time. You need to work on it. You have to be there for this person. You have to spend some time with them to understand them. And where do you expect to get this time from if you choose to spend hours contemplating the lives of people you haven’t seen in a few (or more!) years? Let me say it one more time – a real friendship needs a lot of time. So don’t waste it on these illusions that people create on their social media feed.
And one more thing is – what does it even mean – “Let’s meet and catch up”? If you see this person once every few months, let’s say three times a year (or less), how do you want to catch up and – most importantly – what for? Why do we need all of these “coffee to catch up”s? It’s not enough to get to know someone and it’s not enough to even fully understand someone’s situation. “The coffee time” works for a business meeting, talking about a project or meeting with a friend whom you talk to on a regular basis. Friendship requires more than three meetings a year. And all these “coffee time acquaintances” are as unnecessary as a growing number of your social media friends. So don’t waste your time on it. There are only three reasons I would meet up with you – to discuss a new project, to be inspired by you or because you make me laugh. If there is none of the above, I will just simply move on. And you should too.
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