Ellis Hamburger, writing for The Verge:
When I arrived at the University of Michigan in fall 2007, everybody said “Facebook me.”
In the following days, even a passing meeting guaranteed that a friend request would pop up the next time I logged on to Facebook. I felt popular and informed, at all times abreast of what my hallmates, friends, and peers were up to each day. Writing status updates, browsing photos from the previous night’s parties, and searching for girls who were also into Kurt Vonnegut became a daily pastime. The News Feed was the most addictive webpage I’d ever used, letting me people-watch with X-ray vision.
Now that I’ve left college and settled in with far fewer friends, remnants of my past life float through my feed like ghosts in the night. Facebook’s intelligent algorithms think that I still care about most of these people, that their “life events” should be a part of my daily “newspaper,” which is how Mark Zuckerberg sometimes describes Facebook. It’s an outdated way of thinking about social networking, and as a result, my Facebook feed feels less relevant than it ever has.
In the real world, losing touch with people happens naturally and effortlessly, but on Facebook, unfriending is reserved only for breakups and acts of malice. So, the ghosts floating through my News Feed vastly outnumber the friends I’ve kept. My Friends list went from a roster of my current friends to a collection of everyone I’ve met in the last 10 years — a social group too massive to feel urgent, and too broad to share with on a daily basis.
Facebook is broken for its earliest users, and perhaps soon, for many of its new ones as well.
As Facebook ages, it faces an interesting generational problem. As people age, their friendships change, evolve. When they are in school, they might have one large cluster of friends. Their friend list grows indiscriminately and is rarely trimmed. As they mature and move on in life, that large group of friends is curated, resolving into a smaller list of closer friendships. Facebook excels at building a friend list, but does not do such a great job at supporting the curation process.
Myself, I rarely unfriend anyone, mostly, I fine tune who I follow closely.