Minimizing The Facebook Time Sink/Information Overload

Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by benstein

Recently a reader commented that back in April I said I didn’t use Facebook because I considered it a giant a time sink, (see Time Sinks, Or Why I Don’t Use Facebook), and recently talked about modifications I made to Facebook (see Break Through Stagnation by Editing Commitments (Editing Life Series)) that I should write an update. So here it is.

I still consider Facebook a massive waste of my time, and that has become even more apparent since I signed up.

So why did I sign up?

It was a matter of adopting technology for convenience’s sake.

My husband is an avid Facebook user. So are the majority of people from my church, most of my friends, and people I see once a year at a camp I teach at. And I would hear something in passing, and the response would be, “Well, I put it on Facebook.”

So I sighed and signed up. My worst fears were confirmed. People started friending me left and right. Mixed in with the people that I saw every week were people I used to know but didn’t care enough to stay in touch with, the stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood, high school compatriots who I couldn’t stand back then, and ex-boyfriends.

So I decided to deny friend requests. That sure backfired…

I even had one person I had denied accost me and demand to know why I had deleted her friend request twice (really?). And then my news feed started filling up with quizzes, Farmville, “what I had for breakfast” and gossip about people I didn’t know or didn’t want to know about. Lovely.

So I stopped paying attention to it, and then I started getting emails from the people via Facebook. And more demands face-to-face why I didn’t comment on articles. Overload city.

There are some things I have learned along the way to help keep Facebook in check.

You Don’t Have To Accept Friends

This is obvious. You don’t have to accept friend requests that you don’t want. But if you delete a friend request, they can send it again.

My secret? If I have a friend request, I just leave it in my inbox if I don’t want to friend them. That way they can’t friend me again, and I don’t have to keep deleting it. I don’t have to accept them and see all their prattle on my news feed. And I run less risk of being confronted about deleting them.

You Can Filter the Feed

Facebook provides a way for you to group your contacts, and then you can see the news items for the people within specific groups. I created one group called “A”. I added to that group only the people who a) don’t post much and b) I want to know about. There are three altogther: my husband, a coworker/friend, and my best friend from high school. When I go into Facebook, I only look at their posts.

If I have some time to waste and I am curious about what someone is up to, I can navigate to them via my Friends page and read their wall.

You Can Do Minimum To Keep Up Appearances

To avoid the “why didn’t you respond” queries, I simply go in once a week and update my status. No big deal, it’s usually about the weather or something else equally trivial. The best part of this is that people now think I’m paying attention to all their stuff as well.

All that being said, I am rarely on Facebook. I go on only after my husband says “Did you see my post today?” or if someone sends me a message that I wish to reply to or an event notification pops up in email. My status updates are generally made last thing at night from my iPod Touch.

So yes, I still consider Facebook a massive waste of my time. But since I figure the cost of using it on my terms is less than the harrassment I get of not using it, it’s something I can deal with.

Do you have any methods of handling Facebook? Share below.

Photo by benstein


    • LJ Earnest says

      Unfortunately, yes, one woman did accost me at church and demand to know why I had deleted her request twice. I would have thought she would have taken the hint. But since this behavior is completely in line with her other behaviors, I can’t say I was totally surprised by it. She is truly Clueless.

      I like your article. Like you said, some things are common sense. I love the point about asking why someone would want to share what they just had for lunch. Do I really care that someone just bought a heifer on Farmville? Nope. I have better things to do. :)