It’s a question that does not seem to completely fit into the scope of decluttering and organising. Doesn’t it, though? As much as decluttering is about the physical objects that fill our lives to a degree that has become uncomfortable, it is also about being aware of engrained habits and figuring out how much they actually serve us and if there is a way of sifting through them and letting go of the ones that do no longer serve us. Some may never have served us in the first place!
All of those elements are internal ones, so far. Taking this another step further, there are external influences that have a deep effect on how we live, how we behave, and how we feel. Some of those are to do with the economy and the constant need to market ‘stuff’ to potential buyers and trying to convince us into buying things we may not really need. Most of us are aware of such things, if not to a degree that we really should be.
Even deeper down, we are influenced by social media: it’s the perfect place to show off who you want to be (nobody shows who they ARE, right?), what you aspire to, finding ways to show off to your friends what things you have experienced, what you own, what you can afford, etc. In fact, facebook, Instagram, twitter, snapchat, and all the others are meant to broadcast THAT kind of stuff rather than anything else. Worse even: we are drawn towards a life where we showcase everything of our own accord! Their business model has worked.
Let’s take a good look at who those followers, subscribers and ‘friends’ really are. Facebook has chosen the word ‘friend’ for good reasons: at first, those people actually were friends, people you have met and know, and facebook was a novel way to stay in touch. This is no longer true: nowadays ‘friends’ can be those people you met once in Gran Canaria for three days during a trip 10 years ago, or that girl you sat next to in primary school and have never heard of until she friended you, and then there was no further contact. You know what I mean! On other social media, the link to followers and subscribers is even more tenuous…
Facebook friends are tricky, because if you run a business or manage a page on facebook, your private persona and the ‘manager’ get intermingled. I find that next to REAL friends I accumulate lots of business colleagues, competitors, friends of friends who look vaguely interesting and random people I have acquired as friends somehow. In itself, not a big issue, but sometimes you want to separate those out and clear the growth to something you can manage. Personally, I find the mixing of private and public a tricky subject and due to the relatively convoluted ways to keep them separate, I have given up on privacy in that particular arena a long time ago. The effort was just too big.
I do occasionally weed out my friends list and am confronted with decisions that I do not enjoy making: some of those are ‘useful business contacts’ (that should really be on LinkedIn, but they have chosen to stick with facebook only), people that have contacted with me on a whim after a workshop or on social occasions and I felt would be interesting to meet again in private (but it never happened), there are old school friends who have drifted into a way of life that does not connect with me at all, and so on. Dozens of different reasons to connect, and as many reasons to separate. Decisions are hard and they feel very final.
Here’s what I do, maybe this helps you weed your own list (I go through the whole list for each of these criteria separately):
Disclaimer: this is by no means a one size fits all scenario: you may have different considerations or other networks that show up on your friends list, you may have practical reasons to keep people you do not personally know, like keeping in touch with members of a club or suchlike. Make up your own rules that will help you keep this part of your life as simple as possible.
In the olden days, people had address lists in their year agendas and when the next agenda came, names, addresses and phone numbers were transcribed into the new one. That offered a recurring chance to make choices. Most of us no longer have that automatic luxury, but we CAN most certainly create such an opportunity for ourselves to keep our life simpler and our mind clear.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My mission: help clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.