HOW MANY OF YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS DO YOU REALLY KNOW?

December 24, 2013

Joely Mitchell

I still remember the first day that I got Facebook. Funnily enough it was my aunty who pressured me into getting it. “Okay, I’ll join this weird website thing,” I told her. I hesitantly made an account, chose a photo to make my display picture, and added people to be my friends.

For the first couple of months, I probably had no more than 50 friends, most of which were family members. All of a sudden, a couple of months later, my friends list was increasing by the day. Before I knew it, my amount of friends was in the hundreds. As the years progressed, the number continued to increase, until I reached a peak of approximately 650 friends. I probably don’t have 650 friends in reality, but through all of my different walks of life, it was understandable that I would gain more friends.

It wasn’t until I was in year 12 that reality hit me. I was at an AFL match with my family when I saw somebody who was in the year above me at primary school. He was sitting a couple of rows behind me and it wasn’t until we made eye contact that I realized who he was. At this moment, we didn’t smile at each other, wave or even say hello, we just looked away from each other and continued to mind our own business. It was as if we were strangers, and it took me about a quarter of the footy match to realise that we were.

The crazy thing was that I remembered seeing a Facebook status that he had uploaded a couple of days before. I read it, like I do for the majority of posts in my newsfeed, barely taking into consideration that I hardly knew who this person was.

So then and there, I got my phone out and went straight onto Facebook to delete him as a friend. Brutal, I know. He hadn’t done anything to deserve my ‘unfriending’, he just wasn’t actually my friend.

Moments like these kept occurring once I finished high school. On the train to uni, I saw a girl from my high school. We were in the same English class, but meant nothing to each other now. We didn’t acknowledge each other’s presence whatsoever, so I got my phone out again and pressed ‘unfriend’.

It didn’t take long until I realised that a Facebook cull was in order. So with a new outlook of life, I new-tabbed Facebook and went straight to my friends list where I began questioning the legitimacy of every single Facebook friendship I had. Primary school friends that I don’t talk to anymore, deleted, high school friends who I never did, nor will ever talk to again, deleted, random people that I had friended over the journey, deleted too. It wasn’t long until I was down to about 300 friends.

In a society where Facebook profiles with 1,000+ friends is the norm, the move I made was definitely a detriment to my perceived popularity. But my perspective never changed, I’d rather have 300 genuine friends than 1,000+ strangers disguised as friends.

So if you’re ever in one of those ‘oh my god, I’m so sick of the annoying people in my news feed’ sort of moods, do yourself a favour and play the friendship quiz- ‘if I saw this person on a train, would I go and sit with them or walk the other way?’ If your answer is the latter, then you know what to do.

– Joely Mitchell

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