I was very serious about reducing the size of my online homes. I tackled it with ferocity on Friday evening. I am not one to skim over my social media spaces. I know that is probably the smart thing to do, but I just can't do it. I actually want to see, read and interact with the people I have listed as friends and contacts. Here is the what went down.
Blogs - I started here. I've been blogging since 2004 and had a large list. There were 110 feeds in my news reader. They varied from journal blogs to photoblogs, media blogs, recipes, comics, etc. One of my strategies was not to have a lot of overlap. If I am following a person on their blog or Facebook, then I didn't need to follow on Flickr or Twitter. I needed to decide where I was getting the best, most interesting information.
I first eliminated the blogs that I would usually skip over when I would open my reader. I eliminated ones that hadn't been updated in years. That was hard because I kept some of those blogs around hoping that the person would come back. Then I would go down each folder and say yes or no out loud. If I hesitated it was on the chopping block. It took me a couple of times down the list before I finally, confidently said yes to everything. 110 to 58. But those 58 are all things I really love to read so it makes going into my news reader much easier.
Facebook - Facebook has really positioned itself well. I didn't realize how truly insidious it has become. It is the nexus of so many parts of your life and it is VERY hard to eliminate people. Do you eliminate your co-workers, your family, your friends? It gets to a point where it is impossible. I wasn't sure at first how to handle it but I finally settled on a game plan: hide most everyone except the very few that I wanted to read and to eliminate almost all of the fan pages. It took several passes as it did with the blogs. It will probably take me a while to finish this one because people post sporadically on Facebook. The beauty of this system is that I can still interact with them and see their pages but it cuts down on the content of my news feed.
Flickr - This was my biggest surprise. I did not anticipate how hard it would be. I periodically clean out my Twitter and Flickr contacts anyway but I really wanted to pare it down and leave myself some room to add some new contacts with a different point of view than I have seen lately. I started trying to eliminate people, but I was all over the place and the way I was doing it didn't make any sense. It felt random with no plan and the more I did it the more frustrated I became because I was messing it up. Then I just decided to eliminate everyone and I actually sort of managed that. I eliminated everybody but 11. Those 11 are obviously people that I will never be able to eliminate, ever. So I thought I was done. Basically start at zero and rebuild my contact list from there with some new and fresh perspectives. But as I tried to move on to Twitter I literally was panicking on the inside. I just couldn't walk away from some of those accounts. I added back many of them and I'm now up to 26. My only concern is that this seems like a good number to really keep up with and simultaneously get me off the computer, but I really do want to add a few new accounts with some new points of view. Not quite sure how to do it without finding myself back at a number which will cause me to skim accounts again. Flickr was SO much harder than I thought it would be. I wish I could start at zero, but I obviously am not ready to do that. Maybe one day.
Twitter - On the other hand I thought paring Twitter down would be harder that it was, but it was pretty easy. For the Assignment Houston account I had already radically changed it a few months ago making it more useable. I used the yes/no method from my blog and eliminated some more and now that account will be much more personal and therefore used much more. As for my Photine account the biggest shift was with company accounts. I used to have a bunch of lists in all kinds of different categories covering Houston arts, restaurants, events, etc. plus a bunch more that I was actually following. Now I have one Houston list that has the accounts I really want to be able to check on and I took them off my follow list.
I feel good about the work I did. I feel like I will really be able to interact with the people that I am following which is important to me AND I feel like it will be easier to walk away from the computer without feeling like I have unfinished business which was the whole point of this exercise to begin with.