Every Day Connected

Organize Your Social Networks!

Friend overload ruining your social network experience? It’s not a question of popularity -- i...

Let’s be honest: Facebook is only personal to a point.

Sometimes you can’t say “No” to a friend request, and so it snowballs. You end up linked to people online that you probably wouldn’t nod at in the grocery store. These people might serve a purpose -- maybe they’re work prospects, or parents of your kids’ friends that you want to spy on from time to time -- but managing the camaraderie can become overwhelming.

There are a few ways I tackle friend overload:

Pull a Ross-n-Rachel. You’re just taking a break. When you deactivate your account, your content remains intact. You’ll appear as though you’ve disappeared from Facebook. Then you’ll pop on and off when you feel like it, making it easy to digest Facebook at your own pace, and also freaking out a number of people who’ll wonder why their friend counts are going up and down all the time. The downside, though? You’ll also be revealing your inability to manage social media.

Prune. Yes, just de-friend people. It happens. One day you’re friends with someone, the next you’re not. And you know she didn’t just deactivate her account, because she still shows up on another friend’s page. This is rough -- and I know I’d never be able to do it. But you have to decide who’s really worth your time and then be willing to accept the consequences face-to-face.

Make lists! I told my husband that my obsession with making lists would pay off, and I was right (as usual). Facebook friend lists are a simple way to compartmentalize connections into groups you can manage. And I’m not just talking about managing newsfeeds annoyingly littered with application announcements. Lists also help you easily control how you display information to particular groups, specifically through your privacy settings. (Don’t know how to manage friend lists? Here’s the lowdown straight from Facebook).

Example: Put close friends on a specific list, so you can check them out or share with them first. Put co-workers, obligatory family members or ancient grade-school friends on other lists and, when you’re posting something personal or just irrelevant to people you don’t see regularly, adjust your settings to knock those lists off your status updates.

For me, the key to using social media is first understanding what you want from it and then learning how it works so you can get what you want. If you want to have your friends and shun them too, it pays to know your options.



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