And Then There Were…

Wow. This is getting intense. My November 1st goal was 100 friends unplugged per day, taking me down to my core group only at Facebook by year-end. Well, one of the benefits to being in-bed-level sick for days and days on end is that the only work I could focus on, some days, was defriending.

And defriend I did! As of this blog post, I am down to 599 (from 4985, just five weeks ago).

At first, it was difficult, because I wanted to be fair. I wanted to apply OCD-like criteria that “If she goes, he goes,” and I would decide that it should happen around the same time so one doesn’t get upset about the other still being on my friends list, and such.

Talk about crazymaking bullshit.

You want to challenge any OCD, fairness neurosis, this is the way to do it. Just know that “everyone is going.” And then you get less “fair” about any of it. It’s only a matter of time ’til everyone’s gone anyway, so out, out, out they go… unless it’s someone who is just so very entertaining, pleasing, valuable on a soul level to me that I want them popping up in my feed daily… and then that person can stay.

For now.

But I keep in the back of my head, “But you’re all going away eventually,” which gives me the freedom to keep some folks around for a bit longer.

And as my friends list goes from truly overwhelming (seriously, you guys, very few of you know what it’s like to have 20 new friend request per day; an inbox filled with dozens of requests for advice, feedback, and attendance at shows; overflowing invitations to screenings and networking events; on top of the real-life/non-industry stuff) to somewhat manageable, I find something fascinating happening.

My OCD-like tendencies to answer every damn post, message, event, or tag no longer make Facebook a hellish place to visit, daily. Because my fan page (which many have graciously started using for interaction, which I greatly appreciate) doesn’t send email alerts or even within-Facebook notifications of interaction, comments, wall posts, etc., I can go to the page and deal with the contact people have made when I’m in the right headspace to deal with it rather than when Facebook alerts me something is going on. (Their hyper-connectivity tools aren’t in place for fan pages. THANK GOODNESS.)

That means I can be filled with grace and love and helpful advice and tolerance for the same questions asked over and over and over again (a favorite was the post from an actor saying she’d looked EVERYWHERE for a mailing address for me but couldn’t find one… and her post was on the wall right NEXT TO the mailing address for Cricket Feet, right there in the margin of the damn fan page) because I’m not constantly being pelted with clutter.


I have space at my Facebook space, for once. THIS is how I should’ve connected from the start. By drawing a line in the sand and stating, “You took my class, you’re IN. You show up for Thirsty Third Thursday, you’re IN. You otherwise thrill my soul somehow and never make me regret spending a moment of energy on you or with you, you’re IN,” I have made my personal Facebook page a truly delightful place to be. (And I still have a few hundred more defriends to do!)

As for people who are mad (seriously. Mad. Weird, right? Ownership issues, much?) at having to interact on my fan page or here at my blog or via Twitter or at LinkedIn or via email or in real life (seriously — is that not enough?), I say we probably are better off learning about the sustainability of our friendship after all. Too fragile to withstand lack of connection in one place? Too damn bad.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve gotten to know everyone better as I let them go. How much time do we really spend lingering on others’ pages? Try it. For me, I was shocked that literally HUNDREDS of my friends use the same damn Marilyn Monroe quote as their favorite on their page. HUNDREDS. Further amused by how many folks will slap up a quote as by “unknown” rather than Googling the dang thing to attribute correctly. *sigh*

Here’s another cool thing: Our Internet was out on Monday and instead of finding ways to do email or check Facebook on my phone, I used the day to do NON-INTERNET-related tasks (many of which had fallen way behind on my to-do list). I constantly wanted to check something online or verify a section I’d written in a document by looking it up on the web, or checking comments on this week’s column, feedback on Bite Me, etc., and instead I HAD TO just live in my space. My REAL space.

It was AMAZING. I seriously recommend everyone take some technology breaks, regularly. Live Amish for a day. See what it’s like to just SIT with yourself and read or think or daydream. HIGHLY recommended. Good for a soul reboot. 😉

As the fabulous Shelley Delayne said in reply to a status update on my page recently, When I saw “March of the Penguins,” I harumphed for a very long time about how the penguins managed to gather together by the thousands without having cellphones, FB, or evites and yet I can’t seem to get a group of friends together for lunch even with all three! So every time you write about “unplugging,” I see penguins scooting through the snow and cheering.

Me too! For someone like me who has trouble with boundaries and wants to be accessible to everyone, this is a huge step — and one I’m taking without apology. As I’ve said to anyone who has asked, I love you all and will miss the easy connection… but value the more effort-based ones I know we’ll make. 🙂

Let’s pledge more facetime in 2011. No, it’s not easy, but imagine how much fun we’ll have!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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  1. Avatar Ben Whitehair December 9, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Inspiring. Hyper connection can be so beneficial, but to what end? Taking control of where and how you want to be connected is both empowering and increasingly necessary in today’s world.

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  3. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie December 9, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you, Ben. I have one more big-ass post coming about WHY I even bothered sharing this unplugging process and it’s going to be all about how important controlling our environment can be to our mental health. 🙂 Thank you for the support! It’s maybe unconventional (right now) but I bet it’s gonna become more and more essential for folks to set limits like this, going forward.

  4. Avatar Mare December 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I’m so on board with this whole mindset! I have been a FB boycotter, and only joined because I am starting a small business and wanted an easy way to share posts and pix with clients whose dogs come to our pool parties. I think it’s way nuts how people get so caught up in feeling obligated to people they hardly(or don’t even) know. Boundaries are both healthy and necessary. If you give to much of yourself away to trivia, you have nothing left for the things that matter. I also think people need to realize it really is OK to take some time for your own self, and to not feel guilty about that.

    I think I got off on some tangents and am currently rambling, so I’ll stop now. *Smooches to you my dear friend Bonnie!

  5. Avatar Mare December 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    AAUGH! Typo! “to” should be “too” and it stresses me that I didn’t catch it before I posted. Makes me twitch to think people may think I am one of those who mixes up my to/two/toos! (and don’t even get me started on this recent explosion in people using the ‘s to make things plural)


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