I’ve only had my hair cut (professionally) twice since COVID hit last March. One of them was yesterday. It’s not that I had so much length cut off; it’s more that with my stylist Crystal handling the scissors (and not Dr Marry and me!), there was an intentionality about how my hair looked. I walked out of the salon feeling much more put together and so, so much lighter.
Over the weekend, I made a bold decision. I listened to part of a podcast between Tim Ferriss and Jim Collins, and I was left inspired to take action.
February 19, I wrote on Facebook:
I am going on a major culling spree on Facebook this weekend. It’s time to separate out the few people I am truly personally connected to from the people who are in my life for peripheral reasons (nearly all of them good). If you are interested in keeping in touch with what I am doing, please like my professional page. My goal is to go from 1,877 “friends” to no more than 200(ish) people on my personal page.
I’m inspired by my son, who dropped Instagram and Snapchat entirely and took all social media off his phone. It’s time to get a handle on the incredible amount of time I spend/waste scrolling through social media. Listening to a podcast conversation between Tim Ferriss and Jim Collins on a walk today, and the question was, “What are you moving towards versus reacting from?” I know what I want to move towards, and one way to do that is to work to step away from things from which I am simply reacting, or worse, brainlessly moving past with no reaction at all. I want to be present, active and alert going forward. And this seems to me to be one way to do that.
Be well on the journey, all. I’m rooting for you.
And I got to work.
February 21, I wrote this:
I’m down to 400 friends.
That means I’ve unfriended 1,477 people from my list these past two days. I’m feeling mixed about it.
On one hand, what is the harm of having all those people literally at my fingertips? If I need to reach out to them for any reason, FB messenger is an incredibly easy way to do that. Now that I’ve unfriended so many, my messages will go into a “secret” place that they may or (more likely) may not find. On the other hand, what’s the value of being so passively connected to so many people? Isn’t it better to be more actively connected to fewer?
This process was initially hard to do because I looked at every profile picture and thought, “But I know this or that about this person.” or “I have this relationship with this person.” But guess what? I still know this or that, and I still have that relationship with each of the people I unfriended.
Also interestingly, only five people (my mom and spouse included ) asked not to be unfriended. That tells you/me that nobody went into a panic about losing this level of contact with me. It’s a good reminder that nobody is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you. I will likely grow this list again, but this time, I’m going to be more intentional about it (and will learn to use the groups aspect of FB first). If you are an artist and want to be friends with me because of The Arts Partnership, like that page. If you have addiction in your life, like Daily Dose of Dr Marry & DD. If you want to navigate being at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary or do Personal Systems Disruption work, like Dayna Del Val, Personal Systems Disruptor. There’s no shortage of ways to find and engage with me. This was an interesting (and unbelievably time consuming!) process, and I’m glad I took it on.
Here’s to freeing up more time to move towards what I desire versus reacting to the never-ending scroll of content.
Now I’m in my first days of having fewer “obligations” on Facebook. And believe it or not, I do feel lighter. Yesterday, I only checked the page 3 times the whole day, versus the continuous scrolling on my phone, laptop and/or desktop.
An interesting, and unexpected, outcome of this has been the people who reached out after the second post to say they hadn’t wanted to make the process harder or about them so they didn’t request to not be unfriended but that they were so happy to have “made the cut.”
I kept an unusual group of people in the 400: former students from around the globe, a few K-12 and college-aged friends, some people who are actively important to me today, most of my immediate family and a number of new contacts I am developing relationships with from a variety of virtual platforms where I spend time. There was not exact science to it, but there was definitely a gut feeling about how I made the edits. Some people who I am incredibly close with got unfriended because they spend so little time on Facebook that it was silly to keep them in this very small cadre of people. Some people I barely interact with but have a deep fondness for or for whom I have no other way to connect with stayed.
There are important moments I’m likely to miss by not having this massive network, but what I’m gaining far outweighs the losses: (better) control of my time and the opportunity for more meaningful engagement with fewer people.
Like my haircut, most people won’t even notice we’ve been unconnected. We’re all busy in our own lives, managing (or attempting to) our own obligations. One friend fewer, one missing social media feed, is unlikely to raise alarms in anyone’s life, but what it’s already done for me, how I’m feeling, is infinitely valuable.
If you’re weighed down by limp hair, find a salon that’s practicing safety protocols and get your ends trimmed at least–I feel better and more like myself than I’ve felt in months. If you’re weighed down by social media, trim the friend ends. Heck, give your friends list a buzz cut if you want. Remember, it’s your time, and we all only have so much of it. Trim off the excess things that aren’t serving you—it’s so worth it in the end. And if I’m a friend who goes, I wish you incredible joy going forward. We’ll connect in other ways…or we won’t. Either way, it’s all good.