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Chopping Down the Facebook Tree

I am kinda rolling myself back to 1998.

Yes, 1998.  You know the internet time of 1998.  A time when the internet meant mostly dial-up, and the best you could do in social media was make a hideous webpage, or create an America Online Homepage.  A time when Facebook was but a glimmer in our eyes.

Today, I deactivated my personal Facebook account. 

(Don’t worry, Swim Bike Mom on Facebook shall live on and on and on.  And don’t be crazy, Pinterest, Twitter and the like shall continue until someone wrenches them away from my grasp.)

But as far as the personal account, I can’t even describe the ridiculous garbage that I was tired of reading and digesting every day.  From people I wasn’t even sure I knew.  You know what I’m talking about… you’ve got these people too.

The problem with Facebook is the countless, randomly organized categories of people with whom I was sharing pictures of my kids, boasts of my races and shouts about my moods. To demonstrate the catagories, I present you with: 

The Personal Facebook Tree:
family friends
friends of friends
friends of family friends
family and friends of ex-boy/girlfriends/spouses
“other family”
family you don’t like
family you shouldn’t like
family you don’t know at all
people who you wish were actually in your family
co-workers you like
co-workers you don’t like
co-workers who you aren’t sure you really know
co-workers who you aren’t sure actually still work at the job
family of co-workers whose actual co-worker is not actually on Facebook
classmates from college
classmates from high school
classmates from your miserable days in advance degree land
spouses and friends of classmates from all of your classmates, living and deceased
people you met at a work/chuch/community function
other strange people you kinda know
people you clearly don’t know
common interest people
weirdos and freaks
community people
church people
hobby people

My Facebook Tree was starting to look a little crazy, and not just that, it was causing me a ridiculous amount of stress – more stress than putting on a wetsuit with a body freshly wiped down with molasses.

And for what?  Because I thought if someone commented something ominious on their page that it was about me due to the analysis of context clues and my prior interactions with this person…. but I wasn’t completely sure?  Or was I sure?  Or maybe it was possible it was about me, sort of?  And if it was, well, then that hurt my feelings, but I had no intention of doing anything about any of it.  (And no, Mountain Goat, this does NOT have to do with your comment about No Kids at the Vortex!)

So last night, I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. Yes, I am keeping the Swim Bike Mom page alive on Facebook for a zillion reasons, but mostly because the average sized SBM tree makes sense:

The Swim Bike Mom Facebook Tree
fun people
people with goals
people who love triathlon
people with other similar interests
running our buns off
people who love to talk about triathlon 
people who love to read about triathlon
people who like to encourage others in the sport of triathlon
my real friends who accept me even though I wear spandex…. alot
people in my family who love me enough to read my triathlon adventures
The Expert

To me, the Swim Bike Mom Facebook Tree makes alot more sense than that crazy personal tree that grew so big ….I had to chop it down because there’s no room in the forest for something that insane. 
Getting rid of my personal page is one less thing,— and more of me making time to do what I love:  blogging, encouraging others to tri, chatting about my kids, triathlon in general, and training…. without worrying about other dram-o-ramas floating on my news feed by someone who may or may not be a friend. So yay.  I am always available via email and through the zillion other social avenues. 

Much like losing my scale, I think this will be a good thing.  Thanks to all of you who continue to stick around with me.



  • Brooks

    February 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    what you've described is EXACTLY the reason why I LOVE Google+ … the concept of 'circles' instead of friends makes WAY more sense – and is WAY easier to control who sees what posts.

  • Karen

    February 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Quite the step there! I have thought about that myself. Yes, I have tons of "friends" who I haven't seen in 20 years and wasn't really friends with them back then.

    Most of my status updates revolve around triathlon this or that and I feel like the non-tri/runner/biker types in my feed must think I am boasting half the time. The rest of you totally get it.

    Brave step there my friend… I may follow your lead only that would require me to set up KDUB's facebook page and that may take another year or so 😉

  • Tempo life coaching

    February 7, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    If you encourage all your SBM friends to follow in your footsteps this could be the downfall of FB right before they go public (or did they already and what irony of "public" anyway). Good for you for chopping down the tree and SO impressed with how you made your tree. Once again, I want to be like you :).

  • Trish

    February 7, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Woot Woot!! I have managed to keep my Facebook private for the most part. My friend list is very small. Mostly, I use it to "like" awesome people like you who inspire me! 🙂

  • Mike

    February 8, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Good for you! I don't have a Facebook account either. Never thought about the whole reading into comments thing. I'm glad that doesn't happen with blogging.

  • Christine

    February 8, 2012 at 4:11 am

    I LOVE that you did this. Your two trees capture the issue perfectly. I've been thinking about it for a while. My news feed has been overtaken by companies and organizations, etc. and very little are updates from friends. Plus, I totally don't get FB's algorithm for what they show on my feed anyways. My only problem is that most of family and friends are on FB and zero on twitter or anywhere else. Guess that means I actually should make an effort to connect with people in person and one the phone vs. online? Go figure 🙂

  • Amanda

    February 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I think that's a great decision – less stress is better!

    Love the trees – I recognize many of those people from my own facebook page! Mostly I solved it by hiding other people's updates from my feed when they start driving me crazy. And I try to keep my own updates to positive, politically neutral topics, because I don't want to disabuse myself of the notion that my friends all agree with me. (Plus I have issues with public displays of my own weakness, but that's just my baggage.)

  • Matthew Smith

    February 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I'm your newest follower! I live in Michigan for school, but my wife and I will be moving back in May! It looks like you and I will be doing a couple races together…at least Augusta 70.3. Good call on cutting out facebook. Sometimes, I feel like it's just a huge waste of time. Anyway, I'll enjoy watching your journey. Have a blessed day!


  • Duckie

    February 9, 2012 at 12:49 am

    WHOA!! That is huge! I should really do that. It is amazing how much time I waste on that site. I have another category in my Facebook tree: Friends of family who I don't know but accepted because I am not sure if I should know them but all they wanted from me was game points. Lots of those.

    On another note, regarding the scale. I am 2000 miles away from my scale but really had to struggle with the urge to go buy one recently. I am convinced I gained a bunch of weight while I was off recuperating from being sick and I was totally freaking about not knowing. I finally won an uneasy peace and I will not do anything until I have been back training for a while and feel better about myself. Thanks for reminding me why I left it in Texas in the first place!! 🙂

  • yaagTRI

    February 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I have to agree, I've ditched facebook a number of times, I am however back on there, but with only a handful of "friends". These are people I really have a connection with, I regularly block work colleagues so as to not have the awkward feeling if they add me because I would not accept them. Facebook now seems a lot more friendly and useful than before 🙂


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