For quite a while now I’ve logged onto Facebook only to close the tab five minutes later feeling unsatisfied. But until recently I couldn’t put my finger on why I consistently had an unpleasant experience. I slowly began to realize that one of the primary reasons was the Law of Internet Entropy.
The Law of Internet Entropy states, as my friend friend once told me, “Websites eventually become Craigslist.” There are many examples of online communities and websites losing their niche and eventually catering to broad interests. It takes energy to maintain a focused service and well-defined community.
So how does this apply to Facebook? Over the years, I’ve been lax in friending and accepting friend requests. This is because I don’t equate being real-life friends with being Facebook friends. I think most people are the same. But after a while, my Facebook stream became adulterated with news items of acquaintances and those I haven’t spoken to in years. Seeing updates from these people made me feel like a voyeur peeking into the lives of strangers. It didn’t feel right knowing them that well online if I didn’t even talk to them in person.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb I used to improve my Facebook experience and prevent my stream from becoming Craigslist:
Every time I saw a status update, I asked myself if I felt comfortable contacting this person to meet up. If I didn’t, I hid all updates from them by clicking the X in the top-right corner when I moused over the post. Then I clicked “hide this post.” Then I clicked “hide all by” so-and-so.
I applied this rule for hundreds of news items in my feed. After a while, I noticed my stream became tightly focused around genuine friends and people I cared about.