Larry Revoir
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Too many friends on Facebook

Too many friends on Facebook

Jan 07, 2022

I've been playing Facebook for as long as anyone might reasonably expect, given my particulars. It's as interesting now as it has ever been. I assume that's by design. It is certainly not because I have carefully crafted the experience by intentionally seeking out those individuals I wish to hear from regularly. I can't remember the last friend request I sent.

Whenever I receive a friend request I send a single message; a question, "How's your world?" Then I wait no longer than one week for a response. If that time passes and I don't hear back I deny the request and wonder what could have been the reason for requesting my friendship in the first place.
Do you remember that youtube video where the guy goes around asking to be people's friends and then just stands there watching them? This would have been back when one could easily "poke" another and somehow everyone was onboard.

On the other hand, when there is a response it's usually banal, which isn't bad, but I do notice. So, if they say, "good," I say, "that's good" or "good, good". If they say, "Good, how about you?" or some mundane iteration, I say, "So far, so good." You can see where this is going.

Some respond with a single question mark, which I find fascinating. It seems to say–or rather ask–so much, without saying anything at all. I have to fill in the question for myself. I wonder, do they mean, "What do I mean?" Do they just not understand the question or think it's a trick question? Did they wonder why I capitalized the word World? Is that what their question is about? Maybe they just assumed that since they sent me the request the onus was on me to accept. What right did I have in posing questions in the first place? Or maybe it's a, "Who do you think you are?" sort of thing? Whatever it means, even if it means nothing at all, I ignore it. I don't automatically delete the request however. They still get seven days. Not yet has anyone sent a question mark and then followed up with anything else, but I like hoping. Again, it's just such a fascinating approach.

Rather than just some virtually anonymous exchange, I like to imagine this happening in real life. Me, just standing there, likely near an exit. Someone from across the room saunters over gesticulating that they wish to be friends, or at any rate, friendly. I say to them, "How's your World?" Their rejoinder... the equivalent of a single question mark. Presumably, this would be in the form of a certain kind of facial distortion and maybe a weird little stance, like a hyper-extended contrapposto position. Likely waiting for me to explain, but then I just look at them; waiting.

I don't assume they are doing what I am doing, afterall it was they who sent me the request, not the other way round. The truth is that what I am doing is siloing them into an 'Okay to unfriend for no reason group'. This sounds crass I suppose, but it's worked for the most part. Every so otfen I'll remember the subtitle to the book You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney which is, "Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself" and think about what's called Dunbar's Number. Not to go into it here but it's basically an indicator of the limit of the number of people one can maintain a "meaningful" relationship with. I suspect my number is quite a bit lower then average. This is the "too many friends on Facebook" bit.

Rather than agonizing over social statuses, qualitative connections, potential incounters, virtuous signals, so on and so forth, I simply select a condition–yes, I know. "Gross! ...afterall who want's to be friends with someone who puts conditions on thier friendships?" you may be saying to yourself–and go through "my friends" one at a time applying the condition. I started writing this post months ago but it seemed to take a turn surrounding the idea of "Deactivated Accounts." I'll get back to that idea in another post, perhaps. I bring that up here because clearly that is a condition. If I find that someone has deactivated their account, I simply unfriend the account. Clearly, they were not thinking of me (that is, unless they were, in which case I'd have already known the account was to be deactivated, therefor would not have 'found it' that way) so I have no sence of recrimination in this particular situation.

And that is why I send the same message to everyone, everytime. If they send me a friend request without saying anything, I say, "How's your World?" so later, when it's time to unfriend folks, I don't have to rely on my memory or anything else. I know what happened by just looking at the messages. This then becomes the basis for a condition. Given that it was nearer the new year than not I decided (in advance) to unfriend anyone who I haddent talked to all year. My thinking was that, 'if we didn't talk last year we're not likely to talk next year. That was it, simple, concise, clear-cut. No hard feelings!

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