Lately, it has felt like the posts that I most want to see on Facebook – my friends and family – are the ones I have the hardest time finding. They are buried by all of these other pages that are vying for my attention: news outlets, random brands, non-profits, even the social media page from the base I was stationed at five years ago…
During my first pregnancy, I went through this big urge to really reduce the “drama” in our lives. We worked hard to really focus on the friendships that we wanted to nurture because they were fulfilling to us, and to let the ones that felt like a burden go. If I remember correctly, my friends list on Facebook went from over 1,000 to less than 200 over a period of a few days. Phew! It made such a difference! No more “random-person-I-met-on-that-trip- that-seemed-cool-freshman-year-of-college” keeping me distracted from those who are closest to us. I didn’t make a big fuss about it, no flourish of a post to say goodbye, I simply just clicked the button. If they missed me, they would send me a new request (in which case I would usually reconnect).
I think it’s a very normal thing to take a moment and re-evaluate what we allow ourselves to be distracted by in our relationships, especially when going through a big life change like expecting a child. Social Media has helped us to increase the interaction between those we care about, but it has also allowed us to become obsessed with knowing the latest and greatest information and also increased our distractions.
My husband and I were sitting at lunch today and he (who by all means does not use Social Media that much) even commented that he is going to be stepping back a bit by reducing the pages that he gets notifications from and sees in his news feed.
What he said stayed on my mind as I returned to work this afternoon. So I went into my FB (don’t tell my boss!) and out of curiosity looked at how many pages I had “Liked.” 367 pages! Whoa! It made me wonder how that compared to my friends list. 256 friends. It is no wonder I feel my friends are being drowned out! I have so many other things – random things! – taking my attention away from the people I care about.
I started looking through those pages and discovered many that must have meant something to me at some point, but now they don’t hold as much appeal. I decided to go through the list and “unlike” anything that I didn’t need to see every day: Sports teams, random politicians, brands, places I had visited, news media outlets, online shopping websites and much more.
So what did I keep?
- My church. Including the Women’s Ministry and our Church home from a previous duty station.
- Personal Blog/Charity pages of people that I actually know – like my husband’s Ruck to Remember page, and the blog created by a friend chronicling their child’s battle with HLH.
- Previous Army units that I want to stay updated on.
- Team Red, White and Blue.
- My Sorority.
- My Chiropractor – they announce specials like BOGO massages on their page ya’ll!
- The Hospital where I am to birth
- My local news channel
- Humans of New York – if you don’t already get their updates, it is an amazing page.
Now, this might seem counterintuitive, especially for a writer who is trying to get more people to “Like” my page on FB and to visit my blog. But my goal is to have an enriched life, and to enrich the lives of others, not to be distracted or be a distracter.
And as I switched my page back to my newsfeed, after purging more than 320 pages, my feed was filled with the faces and stories of my friends again! It was like a breath of fresh air! I can hardly believe that I didn’t do this sooner.
The next thing that I noticed is that it was now filled with posts to various groups that I am in – so I promptly decluttered my groups as well. I left several – “Fans of ____” pages and other random ones that frankly, I had even forgotten that I was in. And I “Unfollowed” the ones that remained so I have to make an effort to actually go into them and see the posts. As I returned to my newsfeed again – it was filled with even more amazing posts from friends and family! What a blessing!
Have you tried decluttering your Social Media connections lately? What real connections has it helped you to rediscover?