A year ago Steven Levy suggested that Facebook should give us each a single “friend-list do-over.”
A lot of commenters challenged him. “Grow some balls and just unfriend people,” said one of the more even tempered readers. Another – “These comments are too constructive. Someone should just call this guy an idiot.”
Steven probably didn’t see that criticism coming, because he probably assumed people understand how difficult it is to unfriend people on Facebook at any sort of scale. You have to find the person, hover over the friend button, select unfriend and then click a confirmation.
That’s a few seconds, and when you are trying to remove hundreds, or thousands, or people you don’t know as friends, that takes Too Long. And so the friends stay, for the same reason that every clock in my house is off by an hour for half the year.
So, no, most of us aren’t going to spend the time removing friends on Facebook. Instead many of us are using new social networks, like Path (we’re an investor) and the upcoming Just.Me (we’re also investors, guess how much we like this space) to start fresh. Facebook is for thousands of people you don’t know. The start fresh new services can be finely crafted from the start to include only your actual friends. And they’re made for mobile. Update: Check out Ourspot as well.
Path and others are giving us what we want – A nice, sophisticated and diverse conversation with friends, like sitting together at a table just laughing and talking and drinking a latte. Facebook is more like the top picture above. Chaos.
I don’t like sweater vests, but I’ll take them over hordes of strangers yelling at me any day. I can politely ask that guy to take off that stupid vest anyway. Then everything would be perfect, really.
Sure, lots of people say this is our own fault for showing zero restraint on adding friends over the years. But what seemed like a fun “sure why not, this is adventurous!” in 2006 and 2007 when Facebook allowed open registrations now feels like a bad hangover.
Anyhow, Facebook today is so crowded and messy that no one ever goes there anymore. Or at least that’s what I imagine Yogi Berra would say.
So Facebook, I ask you. Give us the Steven Levy do-over. Or give it a Jack Welch twist and auto suggest we unfriend the 10% of our Facebook friends that we interact with the least once a year. Or both.
I promise, cross my heart and pinky swear, I’ll be more restrained and focused this time. I’ll realize the long term consequences of my more hasty why the hell not click yes decisions, and I won’t repeat my past sin of not saying “no” more often.
Ok, I may repeat past sins. But you can just let me start fresh again next year, right? That wouldn’t be so bad. I could live with that.
Because if you don’t, eventually Facebookers may not wanna come over to the site since it’s so crowded, and no one can stop ’em. You can observe a lot just by watching. Facebook is 90% mental, but the other half is making me insane.
You’ve come to a fork in the road, Facebook, and you should take it.