One Saturday morning, I clicked over on Facebook and noticed a friend request. I had no idea who the person was, and they weren’t local. In researching who they were, my mouse hovered over the accept button, and I had to admit, it was out of a vague sense of obligation. Then I hit “reject.” (I think the term is more innocuous – like “not now,” but I sordidly enjoyed thinking reject.)

With that simple sift, my brain shifted in my treatment of “friends” on Facebook. I had over 1200 of them. I know that I haven’t interacted – at all – with at least 40% of them (and that may be wildly conservative). My dislike for Facebook is well-known but I’ve kept my account over the years just for communication purposes. It dawned on me on that I don’t need connections on Facebook whom I never connect or interact with. I have Twitter for that.

facebookhowtoHere’s what I did next, and you can too. Perhaps it will bring some of the relational connection back to Facebook for us all.

  1. I looked on the left column and found a gray headline for “FRIENDS,” and I clicked it. It’s actually a little difficult to see, and it can easily be overlooked. That’s why I’ve posted the corresponding images to the right.
  2. You’ll next have a large list which Facebook has unhelpfully segmented into demographics for you, but at the top of the list, you’ll see a box (circled at right) that says “See All Friends.” Click that.Now you’re going to go to town “unfriending” people that you don’t connect with. The way you do this is to let your mouse hover over the “Friends” button, and a menu will open. The last option on that menu is “Unfriend.”My litmus was “Has this person reached out to me out all?” If no, then typically I unfriended them. Harsh, but I need sanity not stalkers in my life.Inactive Accounts:
    A couple of notes on this step: you’ll see some folks that only have the generic Facebook icon for their profile pic. That normally means that they have made their account inactive. Apparently, Facebook retains the friendship for you, in the event that they reactivate their account at some point.
  3. HOWEVER, if they have friends below their name (as shown to the right at #3), the account is active; they just don’t have a profile pic at present. One more tip: don’t unfriend the inactive profiles on that screen! There’s some sort of bug in Facebook that when you do that, it resets your screen, and you’ll have to scroll ALL THE WAY back to where you were. Major pain. Instead, open up a text app or write down the names of the inactive profiles.
  4. With the list of inactive profiles (I had more than 50!), go back to the friends screen (Show All Friends), and you’ll see a box (show above) that says “Search Your Friends.” It’s a mild irritant, but type the first few letters of the inactive person’s name, then on the resulting screen, hover over the “Friends” box and select “Unfriend” from them. Believe me, it’s much easier doing it that way than having Facebook refresh your screen and having to find people in the list again 50+ times.

It took me about an hour to reduce my friend list by 200 or so, but now that I know how, I’ll come back when I have more time and edit some more.

One more feature to help you determine who your friends are…

(That’s a little sad.) Remember, if you want Facebook to be useful and interactive, it’s important to be a little ruthless here. If you’re just collecting connections like you would stamps or Beanie Babies, then ignore all this.


  1. On the name of a “friend” that you’re uncertain about, control-click (on a Mac) on the name, and open up a new tab in your browser with that friend.
  2. Then look to the right. You’ll see a button that has three little dots on it in the far right. Click there.
  3. You’ll see a menu that says “See Friendship.” Click there.

It will open a window that shows your interactions with that person. If you see that the only interaction was the initial “friending,” and that was over a year ago, then unfriend them. It’s that simple. Or brutal, depending on your temperament.

I wonder how many friend requests I’ll get from this post?


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