Over the past year, I’ve started using Facebook less and less. I’d like to say that it’s because I spend more timing actually connecting with people in real life, but I’m still pretty bad at that too. The real reason is that it makes me feel…weird.
I’m not alone. It’s called Facebook envy and studies like the one done by Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan have concluded that reading Facebook often makes us more jealous and depressed about our own lives. People only post their best material, with the best spin possible on Facebook. So when you compare the reality of your own life with the highly curated snapshots of others’, of course you’re going to feel bad. Yes, it can be an amazing tool to stay in touch with old friends, but most of our newsfeeds are cluttered with information we really don’t care about, from people we haven’t seen in decades. Last weekend, I decided to do something about that. I decided to declutter Facebook.
Update Your Friend Lists
There are three pre-determined friend lists on Facebook: Close Friends, Acquaintances, and Restricted.
- Close Friends are friends whose updates you want to see all the time and you can even turn on notifications for when they post on Facebook.
- Acquaintances are people you’d like to see less of in your newsfeed. You’ll still get notified when something big happens like when they are married or have a baby, but you’ll miss the daily miscellaneous stuff.
- Restricted people are people you want to remain Facebook friends with, but with whom you don’t want to share.
Use these instructions to run through your first three steps to declutter Facebook.
Step 1: Whittle down your list of “Close Friends” to those you really care about. I now have about 10 close family and friends on that list.
Step 2: Go through your friends list and switch everyone for whom you don’t want to see every notification to “Acquaintances”.
Step 3: Add people you never want to share with to a restricted list.
From this handy Newsfeed Preferences screen, you can do some really powerful things. Use it to adjust whose posts you see and prioritize them.
First, unfollow some people for whom you really don’t need updates.
Step 4: Unfollow people for whom you don’t want to get anymore updates. These are people that you may want to reach out to in the future, but you don’t want to see their daily updates.
You can always take a look at who you’ve unfollowed via Preferences later and reconnect with them.
Step 5: Prioritize who you see first. Of your friends, whose posts do you want at the top of your newsfeed?
In the past, when Facebook was new and your only option to get rid of someone’s updates was to unfriend them, I endured a few real-life awkward conversations when it was discovered that I’d unfriended someone. Now, you can avoid those conversations by simply Unfollowing.
I reserve unfriending for the people I truly don’t remember.
Continue to Purge
Is somebody or something in your newsfeed wasting your time? Remember that you can always add people to your Acquaintances list, Unfollow, or Unfriend them.
I started with 360 “friends”, but ended up unfriending 11 people (who are these people?), knocked two people off the close friends list (I don’t need to see every one of your pet photos), unfollowed 104 people (yes, there are 104 people I doubt I’ll need to contact again, but just in case….I didn’t unfriend them), and prioritized 10 people’s posts (these, I want to see at the top of my feed).
Change How You Facebook
Has it worked? Kind of, I was just on Facebook and the top five posts were things I really cared about, then it started to go downhill. I definitely need to continue to purge.
Honestly, the best way I’ve found to use Facebook is sparingly; reserved for the updates from my favorite people. Do you take time everyday to peruse your newsfeed, just to see what’s out there? How much of the content is really interesting and pertinent? I realized that (unscientifically) about 20% of it was really useful and the rest was just noise. So, a few months back, I picked a few key people, starred them as “Close Friends” so their updates would push notifications to my phone, and began to only pay attention to their posts when they made them. I became happier.
Step 6: Drop the daily newsfeed reads and, at most, peruse Facebook once a week. You’ll still see the important updates and you’ll get a lot less of the travel photos, dog photos, and ads. And, you’ll be happier for it.
Do you have a great “declutter Facebook” tip? Have you ever completely dropped off Facebook? Comment and tell us what you did!