Now that the social purge is complete, I’ve begun adding people back to my Facebook friends list. In addition to grumbling about Facebook’s cluttered, opaque interface (remember when we all joined it because it was so much simpler and cleaner than MySpace?), I’m placing new friends into category lists as I go along. Because friends can be added to multiple lists I’m able to use them as sortable metatags.
Each friend is assigned only one priority tag and any number of applicable history tags. The history tags simple describe the context in which we interact(ed): college, high school, work, and so on. The priority tags are based on the level of interest I have in their updates:
- Inner Circle circumscribes the people who care as much about me as I care about them. Between listening to rants, talking about problems, and seeing each other IRL, they have an intimate place in my life.
- Swell People comprises a group that could also be called “friends.” We communicate with each other (note the bi-directionality) in some combination of netspace and meatspace.
- Lost in the Wash are the people I wish I was friends with. Acquaintances (see below) or former Swell People I’ve lost touch with. Reconnecting will most likely take an active effort on my part.
- Acquaintances I would recognize if I saw them somewhere. We talk sometimes, have mutual friends, or they’re people I don’t want to entirely lose track of for one reason or another.
- Obligatory Friends are friended because I have to. They might be fellow organization members, Rachel’s friends, or have some other peripheral relationship to me that requires me to accept their request.
While somebody can only be in one of these groups at a time, I expect there to be some mobility (both ascending and descending) between them as life goes on and relationships change.
Sorting people like this has allowed me to force the Facebook news feed into a more usable form. I can now go directly to the list that will yield the information I want, and hopefully miss out on less interesting updates. Perhaps a similar method will help others make Facebook a bit more useful for themselves as well. I’m beginning to think I should apply it to my IM buddy list next.