You have too many Facebook friends. You're following too many people on Twitter. You're connected to too many people who don't care too much about you. Get rid of them. Get rid of all of them.
If you're a standard internet citizen, you've been accumulating social detritus for about half a decade — or whenever you decided to hop onto Facebook. You and your primary school, high school and estranged uni friends all found each other. Click! Friends. Why not? It was still a novelty back then — the gimmick of staring at photos of and information about people who stopped mattering a long time ago was warm and thrilling. That was years ago and yet there they still sit. They plop on your news feed, they tweet sour nothings into a void you're witness to, and they take up space.
"I can just ignore them."
No you can't. Every time you stare at a name or look at a link, a tiny piece of your brain is being wasted. It's time to clean up shop.
Dropping a neutron bomb on your friends list might be difficult. It's a good thing to have a lot of friends, right? You've got an excuse for each and every fauxquaintance, like a hoarder clutching a 1989 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.
But one you gain momentum, you'll realise that most of the people you know on Facebook are pointless. Time to start applying filters.
Have you ever met this person? If not, you can probably delete — unless it's some foreign relative, a telecommuting coworker or something similarly practical. Otherwise, scrap.
Have you seen or spoken to this person recently? The HEY WE JUST MET LET'S BE FRIENDS instinct runs strong and deep throughout the internet — it's customary among many circles to friend someone you've met the next day, or sometimes even that very night. But why? If it's a friend of a friend of a friend, or a date who went nowhere, you'll probably never see them again. And if you'll probably never see them again, why should they be on any list at all? Dump 'em.
Have you had sex with this person? You might again someday. Do not unfriend.
Do you hope to someday have sex with this person? Keep 'em. You never know.
Are they so bad they're actually good? Some faux friends are so idiotic or over the top that even if they make a mockery of our notion of friendship, they're worth keeping around for other reasons. Like your cousin's friend Wayne, so dumb he can't stop posting pictures of his lawn. He's fascinating in his own way. Study him.
Twitter is probably more prone to accumulating crud, because you don't even need the social pretense. But just like Facebook, your list can easily get out of control, putting a strain on our finite human brains — so let's flush what we don't need. Out, damned spot!
Do you remember why you followed this person in the first place? Who are you? Why are you here? Did you write something witty a long time ago? Is that why I followed you? Have we ever met? If you find yourself contemplating any of this, odds are the answer is no and this person can go.
Do you get news from them? Even if you don't know (or do but actively despise!) someone, they can still be a great source of information. If you're not learning something from a random name you're following, cut them out.
Do they tweet too much? One good Twitter user can ruin 20 decent ones if they're spraying you with a fire hose of words every five minutes. Tweet hyperactivity makes a mess of your timeline, drowning out the rest of the worthwhile crowd.
Do they tweet too little? There's always the one-hit wonder account. They had a hit — a crazy one-liner, a fascinating link — and then they crept back into obscurity. Let them sit in their cave — delete them!
When In Doubt...
Err on the antisocial side. If you're not sure whether to keep someone in your fake digital social life or not, remind yourself that it's a fake digital social life and trim the fat. The people who actually matter will never be on the chopping block to begin with. Chop chop. Chop.