Happy Birthday! We’re no longer friends

I’m on a new mission this year to pare down the number of friends I have on Facebook. No, I’m not some self-centered person who suddenly thinks some people aren’t good enough for me. Rather, I’m making a conscious effort to make sure my Facebook relationships match up with my real-life relationships.

It’s my fault I got into this mess in the first place. A few years ago, I started promoting my personal profile all over my business correspondence, namely because Facebook didn’t have a good grasp yet on business pages. Because of this, many people I didn’t know sent me friend requests which I blindly accepted thinking they must be interested in Noobie. At the same time, I sent friend requests to people I came across thinking they might be good business contacts for Noobie.

What I ended up with is a couple hundred or so friends who I wouldn’t recognize if I pass them on the street.

Like I said earlier, I’m on a mission to fix this. But I really hate the idea of sitting down and going through my entire list of friends all at one time. So I’ve come up with an alternative.

Every day, Facebook puts a little reminder near the top right of the screen telling me if today is one of my friend’s birthdays. It’s supposed to be used to send a quick “Happy Birthday” message to your friends.

Facebook birthday notifications

SEE ALSO: Happy birthday to me!

I still use this to wish people happy birthday but I now also use it as a quick smell test to see how well I recognize the person. If I don’t recognize someone, I click through to his or her profile. If after browsing their timeline for 30 seconds or so I still have no clue who the person is, I unfriend them.

If all goes as planned, by the time I blow the horn to welcome in 2014, my friends on Facebook should accurately reflect my friends in real life.

What do you think of this strategy? Is it cruel or is it reasonable? I’d love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.




  1. Rae Kridel

    I actually sift through my Facebook friends fairly regularly and unfriend people. The smell test is if we’ve commented on each other’s posts in the last year (maybe even six months). If we’ve had no interaction, there’s no reason they should be privy to my personal life and me to theirs. I use my Facebook business page for business and post relatively personal stuff in my personal account, which is pretty well closed off just to friends.

  2. Tricia Meyer

    I do the exact same thing! I used to feel guilty about it but I figure that if I don’t really know someone, they don’t really know me either.

  3. Patric Welch

    Rae & Tricia, the reasons you both mention are the exact same reasons I feel little to no guilt about unfriending someone. Glad I’m not alone on this.

  4. Marla

    I love this idea! I, like Rae, sift through my friends from time to time, but using the birthday reminder is a great idea to make sure I haven’t missed anyone. My new mantra is: “if I haven’t met you FACE-to-FACE we have no business being friends on FACE book.” LOL

  5. Pamela James

    Hi Patric,
    First, thanks for the birthday wishes!! Secondly, it is okay to unfriend me on facebook. I do the same thing you are doing. When I have birthday reminders pop up on facebook, and the name does not sound familiar–I unfriend!! If I don’t know them, I’m sure they don’t know me.
    You are doing an excellent job—separate your personal life from your business life–it must be so.
    Thanks so much for your Noobie site!!!

  6. Dorothy

    I have been so tempted to do this, but I’ve felt bad. I have 834 friends and don’t know many of them face to face, but I do interact with quite a lot on a regular basis. But then the daily birthday list so often brings the question “Who is that?” I can usually tell how they got to be a friend from their interests, but they aren’t active Facebook users so I never see any posts from them. I guess they should be “lopped off”. They’ll probably never know that I did it.

  7. Mary Grace Devine

    I have a Facebook account but rarely open anything! You certainly may delete me as a “friend” on Facebook but please continue to send your Noobie News comments/information since I have learned much from your articles! Thanks!

    • Patric Welch

      Mary Grace, I wouldn’t unfriend you because I know you! And I will most definitely keep the good technology articles coming :) Thank you for your nice comments.

  8. Kaycee

    When I opened my Facebook account, I did so with the intention of using it ONLY to catch up with friends I have in real life, and not at all to network lots of FB-friends. Most of the times I have deviated from this plan, I have been burned. I totally get it.

    Thank you for the birthday wish; I appreciate it. :)

  9. Donna

    I do the exact thing. I have a huge friend list but mostly due to accepting friends for various games I play. This give me the opportunity to “weed” out the “friends” that no longer share the same games.

  10. lynn

    I keep my Facebook account personal and don’t accept requests from people I don’t know. I have a separate ‘fun’ account for games and sweepstakes where I don’t know any of the people and I can ‘like’ a page for entering a contest only.

    Separately I have a community(?) page for my foodie website. It definitely has different features than a regular page cuz it gives me stats on outreach, etc. Perhaps you can have a page like that, the way brands have their own Facebook pages.

    • Patric Welch

      Lynn, I do have a Noobie page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/noobie. It’s one of the reasons I stopped promoting my personal profile and started promoted my business page. But I still have a lot of cleanup to do from the years before I had my business page.

  11. Brenda Bryant

    I think it would work and be awesome, if everyone shared their birthdays! :) But your going to miss some!

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