Facebook culling is good for the soul

Blog Feb 18, 2011

Facebook friends are not real friends, a report compiled by an Oxford University boffin has concluded.

An Oxford University boffin has this week published research claiming that Facebook friends are not real friends. Well, durr.

The report's findings are clearly a little more in-depth than that. It actually concludes by confirming what Professor Robin Dunbar found during the Nineties - that we are still only really capable of maintaining about 150 active relationships despite people having sometimes thousands of friends on social-networking sites such as Facebook.

The main point made in the report is that advances in technology and communication methods haven't been matched by changes in mental capacity.

When I first signed up to Facebook I was keen, as were most people I'm sure, to add every single person I came into contact with. And it wasn't even a case of looking popular, it was just because I could.

But when I approached nearly 900 ‘friends' and was being subjected to status posts about events and people I actually had no interest in at all I felt a cull was needed.

So I set upon criteria for my culling, or to put it more kindly, removing them from my friends list.

Firstly, any use of 'lol', 'lmao', 'rofl' or other such ridiculous acronyms in status updates meant you got deleted. I deleted three family members for this reason.

Secondly, people who use their status to moan excessively were culled. I'm not talking about the odd status about public transport being busy or them having a cold. I mean the people who constantly air all their woes about their ex-boyfriend or their job or how the whole world is against them. Goodbye!

Then I broke it down into people I would actually speak to in the street and then further to people I would speak to on Facebook chat. Especially the latter. If I don't want to chat to you on there, there really isn't any point us being Facebook friends is there?

And lastly anyone who sent me invites to Farmville, Mafia Wars, Caf World and so on were culled. I don't have a problem with people using these applications - well I do hide them when they appear on my news feed but each to their own - but if you know me well enough, you'll know I don't go in for things like that, thus proving we're not close enough for you to stay in my friends list.

Now when I sign into Facebook chat everyone in there is someone that I may want to speak to or have an interest in what they have to say. No exceptions.

I welcomed and was actually inspired by the new Facebook privacy changes. Facebook should be a private thing. I don't think it should be a way of seeking revenge on an ex or telling the world how amazing your life is. The people who you consider your friends will know all this.

I now use it to connect and keep up with what my actual friends are up to. Especially those I went to uni with and don't get to see that often. It may not be every week but it's nice to know I can. And I actually get a lot more of out it now than I ever did.

My number is slightly more than the 150. Well double that. I agree that I don't think on a day-to-day basis I could cope with more than this, in fact I don't think I actively or physically manage relationships with anywhere near this number of people. But being able to communicate online does extend the scope somewhat, so maybe mental capacities have changed.