15 Good Ones Will Do
I have known the truth about social platforms. I quit Facebook and Instagram years ago, and candidly I am better for it. I don’t need 5000 friends — 15 good ones will do.
I don’t need 5000 friends — 15 good ones will do.
I read this article today, and this line has stayed with me since. I never deleted my Facebook or Instagram accounts, especially after writing my thoughts on social media platforms on my website, but for a while, I either had my accounts deactivated or I simply didn’t login to them. That changed this summer. In this post, I described how I shared one of my posts on Facebook. In truth, I’ve shared many of my posts on Facebook this year, and the entire experience has been wonderful.
I have such a love/hate relationship with Facebook. The hate part is easy. If you have paid attention to what that company has done over the years, it’s hard not to hate them. Disinformation. Zuckerberg. The Metaverse. I get it. But I’ve had a Facebook account since September 2004. That’s 18 years, or half my life. For half my life, I’ve been on Facebook. I don’t think I have an active account that’s older than this, and that’s crazy to me. At the end of 2020, I downloaded all my data, then I spent a few days deleting as much as I could from that site short of deleting my entire account. I deleted all my posts and photos and likes and comments and anything else I could see to delete, but I never deleted my account.
With that said… I believe that Facebook is a fantastic tool to keep in touch with friends and to even know what’s going on in my community. Here in rural Montana, where all our towns have more bars than schools, more churches than grocery stores, Facebook is where everything happens. Somebody lost their dog? Sure enough, if you post it on the local community group, someone will help to find them, and most of the time, they do! It’s amazing. Somebody needs help with paying for medical bills? More than likely, the community knows the family, and the community will pitch in what they can to help this family. Hell, I donated to a family I know through Facebook because I would not have heard of it in any other way. In this sense, Mark Zuckerberg has succeeded in connecting people in a way no other tool has done before.
And for me? By posting many of my essays on Facebook, I’ve been able to grow closer to more of my friends, and I truly value that, and I hate to say it, but Facebook helped in that. Ever since I first heard about friend circles, or some optimal number of friends that people can realistically “have,” I’ve tried to keep my “friend” number on Facebook at or below 150 people. That means I’ve both unfriended many people and haven’t accepted many friend requests from people, even from people I know. If I met you at a party once, that’s not enough for me to accept your friend request, sorry.
I can’t count how many times someone I know, either a friend or a coworker, has come to me or contacted me and told me how much they liked this essay or that essay that I posted on Facebook. Many times, this has sparked conversation, and sometimes, these conversations have turned into regular contact, either at work or through text messages. I cannot disregard the fact that Facebook had a hand in this. Even today, a coworker came up to me and asked me if I was a “professional writer.” I said no, and she said I should be because I have “such a way with words.” It was heartwarming and amazing, and this 50-60 old woman would not have had a chance to learn about this part of me without Facebook. Hell, the day after I shared my essay on how I secretly like to dance, a friend of mine jokingly started dancing with me, and that was adorable as hell, too.
Sure, I’m on other social media platforms, most notably Micro.blog, but as much I value that community, they are not part of my life in the same way my friends on Facebook are. I see my friends regularly, and they now know something more about me because of my website, because I share them on Facebook where they are more likely to see these posts. I don’t personally know those people on Micro.blog or, now, Mastodon, and that’s fine. But like Om says, “I don’t need 5000 friends — 15 good ones will do.” And my 15 good ones are part of my regular life, but they are also part of Facebook, and Facebook helps connect us in ways that no other tool can.
However. I’ve had to setup rules around my social media usage, and these rules have changed everything for me. If you have noticed me be more active on social media lately, it is because of these rules. I will write about them soon. But for now, I’m not deleting my Facebook account anytime soon, not when it has proven to be a valuable tool in my life.
And yes, I truly cannot believe I wrote an essay defending Facebook. But here we are.