Personal Facebook Cleanse

Facebook Friends

Facebook Friends

I was thinking about a juice cleanse … everyone is doing them … they are all the rage. Of course, my doctor talked me out of it. He told me that my liver was healthy and that was its job. He went on to emphatically state that there was no truth to the marketing mythology about detoxification through juice. Bummer … I thought it sounded awesome.

While juice cleansing was on my mind, I tapped my social networks to learn about probable success or failure. The results were mixed and helpful, but during the process, something else occurred to me – it’s time for a Facebook Cleanse.

What’s a Facebook Cleanse? Well, there are several different protocols, but the one I’m thinking about is simple. I’m going post a simple message to my personal profile, “I’m doing a Facebook Cleanse, like or comment here if you want to remain my Facebook friend.” If people don’t like the post or comment, I am going to unfriend them. The goal is to achieve under 250 Facebook friends. Why?

Well, I think there’s a reason that I fell out of touch with most of my grade school and middle school friends. I’m not sure that the PTA people I friended when my kids were in school still need to be in my inner circle. Some have become lifelong real friends, but the others were really only there so we could sort out who was handling snack after various games and meets.

After I go through this exercise, I’m going to spend some quality time with my news feed and see what items interest me. If I don’t want to comment or like after three posts from the same person, I’m going to unfriend them.

The result should be a very small group of people who I really care about and who really care about me. These should be people who I know well … well enough to hang out with whenever they’re in town … well enough to want to share family gossip with. My Facebook Cleanse is going to be awesome!

But … what will happen if I want to find and re-friend one of my semi-friends or acquaintances? What if I delete someone I really should stay in touch with, even though I don’t? What about the backlash from the group that likes getting my updates, but doesn’t really interact much? What about people who will simply be offended that I unfriended them?

I’ve never done a juice cleanse, but I can imagine that the process is not hugely pleasant. I imagine that some bodily functions are dramatically impacted by simply ingesting juice for five days. My guess is that a Facebook Cleanse will be equally uncomfortable. But unlike a juice cleanse, a Facebook Cleanse will yield real benefits, and I’m sure the benefits will outweigh the risks.

A close friend of mine owns a high-end print shop — one of the few left in the world. He specializes in printed invitations for weddings, sweet sixteen parties, etc. When AIM was in its heyday, the average number of AIM buddies was 125. Back then, he told me that the buddy list number was virtually identical to the average number of people that would receive printed invitations to an important life event. I always thought that was an interesting statistic.

But that was then, how about now? According to some recent numbers prepared by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the average number of Facebook friends in various generations goes something like this:

  • 318.5 — Average number of friends a Facebook user age who is a Millennial / Gen Y member has (ages 18-34)
  • 197.6 — Average number of friends a Facebook user age who is a GenX member has (age 35-46)
  • 124.2 — Average number of friends a Facebook user age who is a Baby Boomer has (age 47-65)
  • 78.4 — Average number of friends a Facebook user age who is Silent Generation member has (age 66-74)
  • 42.0 — Average number of friends a Facebook user age who is G.I. Generation has (age 75+)

How remarkable that for Baby Boomers, the number of Facebook friends looks the same as the AIM buddy number and the average number of invitations to important lifecycle events. What’s the right number? What’s your right number? Is it time for your Facebook Cleanse? It is absolutely the right time for me. I’ll let you know how it works out. Anyone got any juice?



Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is Managing Director, Digital Media Group at Landmark Ventures/ShellyPalmer a technology focused Investment Banking & Advisory practice specializing in M&A, Financings, Strategic Partnerships and Innovation Access. He is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert and well known for his work on Fox Television's Shelly Palmer Digital Living as well as his daily radio report on United Stations Radio Networks. For more information, visit


  1. Rus Sarnoff says:

    It’s almost 1:00 AM here and I’m ready to start juicing my Face

  2. John Fenzel says:

    Can I make an advance reservation to be in the “Shelly Palmer 250″ Club? :-)

  3. Paula Lynn says:

    Dear Facebook Stockholders,

    There is a new movement afoot. Your members are walking their unattached connections off the plank. Believe it or not, this movement has begun by a technologist, a social technologist who figured out how to take the best and throw away the rest. The rest is the ad audience advertisers pay for friend junkies to belong at your expense. Now, the culling of the stock could make each individual more valuable in theory, but in reality you may want to take stock of your stock. Baaaa baaaa humbug.

  4. Lee says:

    Completely agree with Paula’s comment. The value in Facebook is directly correlated to the connectivity of its members. Instead of creating tools to increase that connection, they push garbage like what my connections (I can’t even refer to most of them as friends anymore) are listening to on Spotify or shopping for on Gilt. Completely useless. I’m too spineless to do a Facebook cleanse, so I just stay away, which is even worse for Facebook.

  5. Agree. To move it one further, does anyone find social apps now require grouping into ‘useful’, ‘useless’ and ‘meh’ categories? Sure, they’re all awesome and each represent a connectivity revelation, and we can feed many of them simultaneously – but why should we? A few of my needy digital children, kept around for fear they *might* someday contribute, could go back to the orphanage. After 6 or 7, I feel value to marketers outweighs usefulness to me.

  6. Define a friend. For some, friends are people they hang on
    with after work. For people who have fun working, friends are people who share
    their values, attitude, and temperament. They usually have very little time for
    hanging around, and spend this time with the close family and a very few old
    buddies, and they do not need Facebook to maintain these relationships.

    In this sense Shelly is a perfect candidate to befriend me
    on Facebook. We met on some conference seven years ago, chatted for a minute,
    and I found Shelly as a person of similar personality, temperament, and creative
    approach to life; I read his book, and subscribe to his blog. About three years
    ago, we exchanged an email or two. We met again last week on some another
    conference, and I felt as meeting an old friend.

    BTW, Shelly is not my friend on Facebook. Nothing against
    Shelly, it is my skepticism about Facebook.

  7. Dave Garland says:

    I would get a second opinion before giving up on juice fasts. As for FB fasts, I feel very strongly neutral on the subject. For me, as long as someone doesn’t post nonsense too often, I’m happy for the casual connections.

  8. A year ago, I trimmed from over 700 friends to approximately 250. My newsfeed was so clogged, I’d miss the updates from people I cared about.
    The question I used was, “is this person simply a connection or someone I truly relate to?” Now I use LinkedIn for contact info and FB for those relationships that are deeper.
    Since then, I’ve interacted more with the smaller circle of remaining friends and really haven’t missed those that didn’t make the cut.

  9. condaggitt says:


    Serious question how do i get say 500 dj music friends who live in NYC?. I am a dj (among other jobs) and dont care if I have 5000 friends if 500 are in Switzerland, i need them right here in Manhattan to show up at my gigs.

    I had far better response on myspace when i could target people by distance

  10. Robert Kelle says:

    My first thought when I read your post was all about “me”
    and my connection to Shelly Palmer, but then I pulled back and really thought
    about what you were sharing. This is a huge step in the right direction for you
    and I’m strongly considering this as well.

    I’ve been “following” you since the days of your daily
    MediaBytes videos, your countdown to the “end of analog television” and your
    closing with “Friend me on Facebook or Find me on LinkedIn”. I’ve looked
    forward to everything you had to say about what’s happening in the world of
    media, technology and entertainment. While my morning cup of coffee was brewing
    in my trusty drip machine, then pod brewer and now Nespresso machine, and my
    eyes were adjusting to the screen of my Blackberry, then Droid and now iPhone
    5, I have faithfully looked for your emails every morning to get Shelly’s take
    on what’s going on. Back then, I did exactly as you said and friended you on
    Facebook and connected with you on LinkedIn. Heck, there was even a time that I
    thought we’d connect live on one of your trips to LA, but my schedule didn’t

    Over the years, I feel I could predict the topics you would
    cover and knew that your take would nearly always be in alignment with my own.
    In fact, we might even say that over time, your way of looking at topics has
    shaped my own. It was re-assuring to know you had a similar view of a
    particular topic, so I didn’t feel I was way out in left field. In a sense you
    have been that sounding board that I never actually speak with, a friend that I
    never have a real conversation with, but do hang on what you have to say.

    There is, however, a change afoot and I’m feeling it in my
    own use of social networks. Of course, I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn and I’ve been
    a little more active on Facebook lately as well. If you haven’t turned off my
    newsfeed, you might have been inundated by a recent series of posts from our
    vacation in France. It was that very series of posts that people would comment
    about as I met them face to face afterwards. I realized then, just how varied
    the audience was. In most cases, I was thrilled about the conversation that
    ensued, but in some cases, started thinking about who really was an audience of
    those posts and that perhaps shouldn’t have been.

    Years ago, we saw Facebook allow you to create lists of
    friends, but no way to use that as a means to create “audiences” from those
    lists. Then, I’m not sure if Google+’s Circles came first, or one of Facebook’s
    upgrades allowed for targeting posts, but the idea that one could have a single
    social network platform to communicate exactly what you wanted to with the
    appropriate audience intrigued me. On Google+, I spent a bit of time creating
    circles, and putting people in those circles. I’m sure I was one of the very
    early people on that platform, but lost interest within a couple of days.
    Facebook’s implementation was so far from usable, that I simply haven’t jumped
    into it. Your post got me thinking about this again, so I looked at Facebook
    and Google+ again and have to say that Google+ does a better job of making the
    circle/audience an easier thing to choose when posting, but it just seems
    easier for me to control audiences based on what I’m logged into…essentially I
    think about how I present myself to each of the networks, because that is
    easier than selecting an audience for each post.

    At the end of the day, I find it easier to still think of
    LinkedIn as the place to build a professional network and Facebook to build a
    personal network with a more open sharing of topics of personal interest, a
    platform to communicate with old friends and to reach out for support from time
    to time, such as the work you do with The Memorial Sloan Kettering Pediatric
    Cancer Research center. Using a broad audience to raise funds for a great cause
    is awesome, and I even love to hear the great news of Emma saying “Bye Bye
    Yuckies”. This is all great stuff, but you don’t know me from Adam and I really
    don’t know you. So how does it feel to know that I “follow” you so closely? A
    little comfortable, perhaps?

    So your recent separation of your Facebook personas into a
    personal profile and separate “Page” makes perfect sense. In fact, I also see
    that you’ve created a separate page on Google+ for “Shelly Palmer Digital
    Living”. I used to think that managing
    networks in multiple platforms created too much “overhead”, I now believe that
    there is far more “overhead” in deciding on your audience on one network for
    each individual post.

    You really got me thinking about just how best to manage
    social networks for my own situation, and getting back to what happens to my
    “connection” with Shelly Palmer, well, I’m far more settled in just where that
    lands, because while I totally enjoy hearing your views and believe I would
    truly respect you as a person, if I got to know you better, I realize we’ve
    never met and may never meet, so why would we carry each other as “friends” on
    Facebook? I’ll keep following all you have to say, and if our paths ever to
    cross on another level, awesome. In the meantime, I wish you success in your “Cleanse”,
    and look forward to reading about it!

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