According to Facebook, I have over 400 friends. According to the number of people with whom I share personal things, go out for drinks, have over for dinner, call to catch up, and otherwise consider “Friends”, that number is off by a long shot. So I’m going to fix it, and I’ll explain why.
I consider myself quite a social, yet private person (yes, privacy matters, and is not going away anytime soon). I speak at a good number of public events, am decently well known in the tech industry, and am generally “out there”. But I don’t like to share my personal life with everyone, partially because I don’t think everyone cares, but mostly because I consider my life private. I neither need nor want “the world” to know whether I go for a bike ride with my kids, have a date night with the wife, catch up with an old friend over a beer, or any other “regular living” activity. But it’s deeper than that.
I firmly resent the notion that I am supposed to have to include anyone and everyone I’ve ever met into my personal life, and even if it’s considered an industry faux pas, I simply don’t care anymore. I have plenty of vehicles for communicating anything remotely work/tech/industry related, and plan to continue to use them. Facebook, for me, is supposed to be my personal network, not my professional one.
So here’s my new Facebook friend policy:
- Actual Friends, not “friendly acquaintances”
- Current Friends, not “people I kinda knew in high school”
- Work people I go out with socially, not “someone I met at a conference and exchanged business cards”
In the next few days, I’ll be UNfriending anyone who doesn’t make the above list. This might sound harsh or alienating, but I like to live my life assuming everyone has enough self-esteem. I don’t look at this as rejection, and I hope anyone who gets unfriended doesn’t think of it that way either – it’s not. Just because I like someone and have a professional relationship with them doesn’t mean we’re Friends.
While I might be an “early rejector” I fundamentally believe I won’t be the last, and most folks will come around the conclusion that they need to separate out their personal lives from the professional. While there will be many who have some blend (I believe I’ll be in that camp), It really never should’ve gotten so far out of hand in the first place. I hope my actions can help others who are feeling the same way, but scared of the potential backlash.