Well, I knew this day would come. I’ve been ignoring friend requests on Facebook for a month or so because, well, my longstanding friending policy has backfired, and I’m now at my “friend limit” of 5000 (well, 5003, to be exact). This limit has been much discussed, and I’m not sure I can add anything to what has become a timeworn dialog. It is what it is, and to be honest, I think 5000, upon reflection, is way too high a number. It probably should be around 500, if not 256 or something. Because, let’s be frank. No one has more than about 100 real friends. The rest are…well…possible friends. Colleagues. Strangers and interesting looking people you might want to meet someday if you ever travel to Bangalore. And…in my case…
Well, my case is certainly not unique, but I’ll tell the story anyway, if only to have a record of it in the Database of Intentions so my great great grandchildren can chuckle about it someday. (OK, so my three kids can chuckle at it now).
So back in 2005 or 6, I’m not sure when, I joined Facebook. And a bunch of folks starting friending me, folks I might have met at some point or other, I wasn’t always sure. Every so often – say every 25th or so ‘friend’ – I’d see someone I recognized instantly. An elementary school buddy or a work colleague. But due to my somewhat unique profile in the web space – I have been lurking around these particular parts for nearly 25 years now – any number of people who I didn’t know asked me to be pals.
Now, I don’t think too hard about what it means to be a semi-public person in the rather small pond that is the web space, but I do have one pretty hard and fast rule: If you can avoid being an asshole, what’s the point of the doing the opposite?
So from Day 1 on Facebook, my policy was pretty simple: I accepted every friend request that came my way. I figured it was quite kind of these real people to seek me out and ask to connect, and who knew where this platform might go? By 2005, nearly 50K folks had signed up for my RSS feed, and wasn’t Facebook sort of a similar platform? Well, not exactly, but I think with Twitter my point has been made, somewhat. But I digress.
My “don’t be a dick” policy served me well for several years. Folks friended me, some of them turned out to be pretty cool (they’d show up at events I promoted, they bought and critiqued my book, they cheered me on as I tried to make FM a success, they visited Searchblog when I had a new post). Sure, I recognized I was not your typical Facebook user – I was leveraging the service more as a platform for my work than a network of real friends, but that was OK. The service would figure out what to do with me at some point, right? After all, I wasn’t alone.
But upon reflection, I totally screwed up in how I use Facebook. Buried in there somewhere are groups of folks I really do want to connect with in the way Zuck and co. meant for me to connect. And I Just Didn’t Deal.
And now, by all anecdotal accounts, I have to migrate my friends to a “Fan Page.” Like I’m Budweiser, or Coke, or MIA. Which I’m not.
No wonder I like Twitter so much.
But I’m resigned to fixing my Facebook world. At some point. Really.
Meanwhile, I’m really sorry to the folks I couldn’t friend before I got cut off. I promise to figure it out. But honestly, it’ll take me a few days to do it. And I’m a little short on a few open days.
What do you all think I should do? Facebook doesn’t exactly make it easy to figure out how to migrate to the world of “Fan Pages” from the world of “5000 Friends.”