Have you ever seen the show “Hoarders”? I’ve seen clips here and there, but I actually know someone that was a hoarder (they kept a car full of dog food in their garage…have no idea if the car actually ran). It’s easy to watch in disbelief as the TV crews go through the homes laden with mold, but I think all of us hold a little bit of the condition of being unwilling to let go.
Guys, I think I’m a friend hoarder.
It started in 2005 on the new website called Facebook. I joined because all my friends were doing it, and it seemed pretty safe since you had to be a part of a college at the time in order to get into the site (I had to use my college email address to sign up). As the site grew, I gained more friends. I moved around a lot as a kid, so I ran several different searches as I moved backward in life. I remember the excitement I felt finding each friend online, re-connecting with some, but mostly just finding out how they turned out.
I was really active on Facebook at the beginning, but over time, I have married, moved, gotten involved in our church, discovered Twitter and Pinterest, began blogging, adopted two dogs and bought a house. My internet time comes more in waves, during weekends that I’m not quite so busy. And with this new finite amount of time, well, I’m just not as up to speed on what everyone on Facebook is doing.
I don’t remember my top number amount of friends, but I think it was around 800 or 900. I’m down to 606 after doing some culling, but I still think that’s a lot of people. Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and revolutionary biologist, created the Dunbar number which is the upper limit of rich human relationships that one person can sustain. The number is around 150.
But when I sit down to start cutting, I come across some obstacles. Number one, Facebook doesn’t make it easy as it used to be. Also, every time I look to cut someone I haven’t talked to in years, I start to question whether I should reinitiate a relationship with that person. Unfriending someone can communicate quite negatively.
I could always use the networking excuse, because a lot of my friends actually DO use Facebook for networking their businesses (though, I don’t really use Facebook for networking. I don’t have my own business, and I already don’t have a lot of time to spend on the site in the first place).
Basically, I get that same feeling that a hoarder gets when they are trying to let go of that newspaper from four years ago that they haven’t read: What if I need it? What if I’m throwing away a perfectly good relationship that I will regret doing in the future?
I know another reason why I cling to the number, because it’s a pretty big number. It’s a number of people who have accepted me as a friend (whether I actually show up on their newsfeed or they visit my profile is another matter all together). I used to compare (surprise, surprise) my number to other people’s numbers and try to work my way up to a bigger number by racking my brain on who I could add next. But it was all a vain popularity contest. What difference does it make if I’m in a room of 600 people but only really want to talk to maybe 100 of them before I leave?
I need to cut the number down. I want to cull it down to a manageable number of friends that I can build serious relationships. I’m going to do it!
Er, maybe tomorrow? 🙂