I hear from so many of you that you want to participate in things like Hackschool, but logging into your Facebook account triggers a cascade of negative overwhelm. I get it. At one point I was there too. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can simplify your Facebook account to the point of being connected only with the few people and resources that are a value add for your life. You’re going to have to be liberal with the unlike button and brutal with the unfriending but I’ll virtually hold your hand through it. You’ll feel so relieved when the culling is through and you’re left with a space that actually feels nourishing.
The first stop on our simplification tour is your photos. If you have been sharing things on Facebook for years, you likely have hundreds of photos that you have offered up to the internet gods. That made me uncomfortable. So I chose to unclutter the Facebook photo box.
Facebook > Profile > Photos > Albums
You can easily delete any albums that you created but for albums Facebook created, you will have to delete each image individually. They do not allow you to mass delete those photos because they want to deter you from deleting them. Don’t fall for it. Put in the tedious time and reclaim your property.
Go into the album and hover over a photo > Click the pencil in the upper right corner > Delete Photo > Delete. Repeat ad nauseum.
I actually offered my kid a couple bucks to knock out a bunch of deleting for me. Win-win. My personal profile now contains my 1 profile image and 1 cover image.
Now when I want to share photos with my Facebook people, I have an album I created that I share them to, where I can easily and regularly delete the entire album.
Next up, reduce your likes. Chances are, you have mindlessly liked hundreds of pages over the years that serve to clutter your digital world with outdated tastes and preferences.
Facebook > Profile > More > Likes > Hover over an image and click Liked.
Unlike everything that does not add value to your life today. I mean everything. And remember this work moving forward when you get those like suggestions: don’t like a page unless it will really add value for you. I obviously believe my page adds a lot of value, but you get to make that call. You are not obligated to follow Lindsay’s MLM. You are not obligated to like anything at all. Does it add value for you today? Be ruthless.
The one glitch that I’m stuck on here (and I’ve researched and queried thoroughly to no avail) is that you cannot unlike a page that has been deleted, yet it remains in your like list. Super annoying for a minimalist like me but probably unimportant to you as those pages are no longer active or posting.
Now we’re getting meatier as we move into Groups. Groups are the reason I am on Facebook. I run the Sage Family Tribe and my Hackschool as Facebook groups and I receive a significant amount of support through other groups in which I am a member. But like with everything on Facebook, we tend to be liberal with that join button and conservative (to the point of never) with that leave button. The reality is that many groups will serve a valuable purpose during a particular season or struggle in our lives and that purpose will naturally fall away. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and thank it for being there for you when you needed it (in your head, not in the group, because no one else cares) and then exit stage left.
Facebook > See More (left hand column) > Groups > Settings Gear > Membership > Leave
Now you’re left with only groups that still add value in some way. But you don’t need to receive notifications for them. When you join a group, the default setting is to get an attention grabbing ping every time every Tom, Dick, or Harry sneezes in the group. This is attentional clutter that detracts from the things that really matter.
Click on the name of a group > Click the 3 dots on the right > Manage Notifications > Off > Save
The only group I have notifications on for are the groups I run.
Your next level option is to Unfollow, which means their posts will not appear in your feed and you will only interact with the group when you choose to navigate into it.
Click the 3 dots on the right > Unfollow Group
All of the people in my Hackschool group follow the group because they need and want to see the adventure planning posts and have notifications on so they are alerted when a new event is posted. Groups that you interact with in real life tend to work like that.
Then there are groups that offer wonderful support for something I’m focusing on in my life and they are a value add to my feed. I don’t need notifications for them but I do want to follow them. Their posts that appear in my feed make me feel good—inspired and informed. This would be the case for the members of my Sage Family Tribe.
Then there are other groups, typically around very specific issues, that I want to maintain access to but I don’t need running through my everyday world. For example, a group you are a member of because of a specific medical challenge. The community is a good resource that you will tap from time to time, but doesn’t require your persistent attention. You’d want to opt out of the notifications and the follow.
The most challenging part of this simplification journey is going to be your culling of that friends list. Even the term “unfriend” feels so mean, doesn’t it? It feels emotional and personal and activates our evolutionary survival defenses around rejection. But y’all, these people will not notice or care if you disconnect from their Facebook network.
I have unfriended so many hundreds of people and I’ve received like 2 messages from someone I unfriended asking why and I responded simply and honestly with, “Oh, I unfriended hundreds of people in an effort to simplify my Facebook account. I just disconnected from everyone I haven’t directly communicated with in the last 6 months.” One person replied, “Oh I get it. God speed!” and another said, “Oh darn, I get so much from your posts even though I know I don’t interact much. Would you consider letting me stay on?” To which I said, “Sure,” and all was good and right throughout the land.
My criteria is that I don’t want to be Facebook friends with anyone I wouldn’t actually spend time with in real life. It’s that simple. Sometimes other criteria like “Have we had a direct exchange in the last 6 months?” can be helpful but ultimately for me it boils down to, “Who helps me to be my best self?” I want to invest in those relationships and clear away the clutter and noise of the rest.
Facebook > Profile (click on your name in the upper left hand corner) > Friends > Friends (the button beside the person’s name) > Unfriend
I’ll also add that you can have a relationship in real life with someone and choose not to be connected on Facebook. I’m lookin’ at you extended family. I can love my uncle dearly while recognizing that his hundreds of conservative conspiracy theory posts are not enhancing my affection. Facebook is not the most fertile ground for many relationships and that’s okay.
If you don’t want to lose the ability to reach out through Facebook when desired, you also have the option to unfollow, just like we did with groups. You’ll still be connected but their posts won’t appear in your feed.
Facebook > Profile > Friends > Friends > Unfollow
I have about 100 Facebook friends right now and I always keep it below 200—that’s my limit. Any more than that and the relationship management energy drain is too taxing for me—it takes away from what I have to offer the most meaningful relationships. What’s that number for you? The Facebook Friend count is not a metric for a popularity contest.
All of the steps up to this point have been done on the computer but now we’re going to move over to your phone and turn off the notifications! Did you catch the importance of those last 4 words as emphasized by the italics and exclamation point? Those mobile notifications are what allow Facebook to reach into your daily life and slap you across the face. They create that variable interval dopamine hit that keeps you twitching like a degenerate gambler trying to walk away from a slot machine. But you can say no thank you simply by turning off those notifications and entering Facebook only when you choose to do so.
iPhone > Settings > Notifications > Facebook > Allow Notifications > Toggle Off
Ahhhh, peace and quiet . . . attentional wide open space.
You’ve thinned your photos, pruned your likes, trimmed your groups, culled your friends, and muzzled your notifications—welcome to the light side! Welcome to a more nurturing and intentional social media experience! Welcome to an uncluttered feed and a conscious attentional garden!
What’s your favorite strategy to simplify Facebook (comment below)?