The Great Facebook Purge of 2014


six year oldSomeone once asked me if my confession would make a priest blush and I laughed.

Laughed because this Jewish kid doesn’t go to confession and though I have my share of things to confess about they are run-of-the-mill stuff that any priest who has been doing his job for more than a day has heard.

Laughed because I am not someone who carries around much in the way of guilt or regrets. Ok, that is not entirely true because the few regrets I have in life tend to be large and the guilt when it hits is the same.

But I spend very little time thinking about or paying attention to either one of them because I don’t see much of an upside.

When you make a mistake you do your best to learn from it and try not to repeat it. Give a heartfelt apology and move on.

With some effort and a little luck there won’t be any mistakes that require more than that but that is a discussion for a different time.

More Facebook Friends Needed

Some years back I had an idea for a business proposition that required substantially increasing the number of Facebook friends I had.

It was at the height of the Zynga Facebook games moment so increasing the number of friends was simple.

Most of the games offered benefits and advantages to players who recruited other Facebook subscribers to join their team.

All you had to do was join a few Facebook groups and you could move from one to 5,000 friends in no time at all.  I think 5,000 was the maximum number of friends you were allowed then.

I never did reach 5,000 but there was a time when I had more than 2,500.

I remember thinking how cool it was to have friends all over the world and the kind of insight it provided into how they lived. It was like visiting a foreign country and staying with locals so you weren’t just another tourist.

Most of the time it was pretty cool but there were moments where it was not. There were some comments that crossed the lines.

People who had issues with race, religion and creed.

It made me a bit nervous about them having too much access to personal information about my family and I so I unfriended some and changed my privacy settings.

As time passed I stopped playing the games so I didn’t need a ton of friends to help me become a more powerful player.

Since I didn’t need them for the business proposition either I began to think about whether it made sense to have so many Facebook friends especially those I had no interaction with.

One day my daughter asked me a bunch of questions about who I knew and how I knew them. When I told her why she looked at me and asked me to explain how I could be friends with so many people I hadn’t met.

I thought about speaking with her about how people can become friends online without meeting in person but wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach it.

That is because even though I believe in and have experienced it I was concerned about how it might play out with a young child who might encounter bad people online.

It is not always easy for adults to pick out the bad people online but it is even harder for kids who don’t have the same life experience we do.

It is part of why I have been very careful with my kids and social media.

Anyhoo, that conversation eventually led to the great purge.

The Great Facebook Purge of 2014

Facebook doesn’t make it easy for mass unfriending so I decided since there was no rush I would do it in chunks.

This is where we revisit my comments about guilt and regret because during the purge I think  I accidentally removed some people who had legitimate reason to be included as Facebook friends.

They weren’t people who I knew from playing games online but people I had gone to school or worked with.

Some were people who have met my family and even if they hadn’t we had a real connection of some sort.

Now we can bandy about definitions for friendship or suggest that if got swept up in the net it means I probably wasn’t very close with them.

We can talk about whether I was so gung ho on pairing the list down I didn’t pay enough attention or come up with a million other rationalizations for why they were unfriended but what is the point.

I am not going to do that or try to use weasel words to get out of it.

I unfriended them and I sort of feel badly about it.

Sort of.

Like I said before I am not big on guilt that doesn’t lead to some sort of positive action.

I suppose I should add I am not entirely sure how many people were accidentally unfriended. Maybe that means you weren’t real active on Facebook and I didn’t interact with you there or maybe it means I offended you and you aren’t speaking with me now.

Probably doesn’t help to say I haven’t noticed now does it. 😉

You can tie it back into the topic of what would happen if you stopped blogging and ask whether people notice when you are on or off Facebook.

In my world what I want people to notice is when they haven’t spoken with me. It is more important to me for them to recognize we haven’t seen each other in person or spoken on the phone, but that is me, doesn’t have to be the same for you.

The Last Word For Now

I once thought about trying to enlist some priests for a different business proposition. I thought it might be interesting to write a book based upon the confessions they had heard.

Didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure it hadn’t been done in one way or another and because I was uncertain about the propriety of it.

Were you caught in the purge? Are we friends on Facebook?

Should we be?

What do you think?

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