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Virtual Minimalism

MySpace may be dead, but Facebook and Twitter are satisfying our craving to chit-chat endlessly from our laptops or iPhones.

minimalism virtual

While it´s great to be able to share your daily movements with your friends, and to hear what they are up to (especially in a global environment where we may not live in the same timezone as our friends, let alone in the same city), there comes a time when we can get the uncomfortable feeling that we simply have too many online connections.

The people you used to know in high school who found you through Facebook: You added them to your friends list and now realise why you lost touch with them in the first place. They´re boring, or rude, or intrusive.

Maybe you have become too careful with your updates – your boss is on your friends list and it´s hard to share the details of the great new coffee shop you found when you are supposed to be home in bed, sick.

If you´re not the kind of person who likes to add friends to your Twitter or Facebook account just to have high numbers (and if you have graduated from My Space, you probably don´t), it is time to declutter your friends list.

But how to do this? How can you delete acquaintances or workmates without causing offence?

Some deletes are easy: The ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends that you never speak to anyway. They can go immediately, as they probably won´t notice they´re not on your list any more. Unless they are a bit creepy-stalker and in this case you can worry more about getting a restraining order than hurting their feelings!

Others are also easy: The people that only use social media to try to sell you things – they can go without you losing any sleep.

But the rest? This takes a little diplomacy. No-one wants to feel rejected for no reason at all. The best way to start is to tweet or update your status to let everyone know you will be cleaning out your online contacts soon. Take the blame: Say you are going on a Feng Shui bender and have cleaned out your wardrobe, so you thought you would keep the de-cluttering going in the online world.

Stay light-hearted: Tell the world that this is their last chance to sell you something, or snoop through the embarrassing photos from high school that you are tagged in. Tell the world that you are NOT a multi-tasker and have put a limit on the number of ways you will let yourself be distracted in a day.

Above all, don´t make a big deal out of it. Don´t send individual notes to the people you are going to delete. That´s just weird. Also, be brutal. Do you really need more than two or three hundred online ´friends´? Could you really sustain that many friendships in real life? The point of social media is to connect people – and ironically, too many online connections only distracts you from the people in your real world. Reconnecting with loved ones in faraway places can be as easy as getting on a plane. Book on Apartments in Vienna and have a real coffee with an old friend – even if all you talk about is Farmville!