"Remove from friends."
The arrow hovers over the hyperlink. This is no ordinary button. One click, and I have the power to erase a person from my life.
Like my sophomore-year roommate. We were never close, never spoke after moving out. I don't have her address, her phone number, her e-mail address. Yet I have access to her favorite movies, her drunken Halloween photos, and am constantly updated on fights with her baby daddy.
(Click.) One down. 300 to go.
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In late fall, I had around 400 friends on Facebook. Today, I have 134. (Click.) Make that 133.
When Facebook first entered my innocent life in 2005, I panicked that my friend count was too low. If I wasn't properly connected, how would anyone see my cleverly quoted interpretation of a religious view? Who would wish me a happy birthday? I accepted and sent out friend requests without a second thought and soon accumulated 391 friends.
That's higher than the 200 or so friends that Larry Rosen says the average user has on Facebook or MySpace.
"When you're sitting behind some kind of screen, whether it's a computer or a cell phone, you feel like you can say or do what you want without repercussions," said Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills who studies the way people communicate online. His book "Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn" comes out this spring.
There is also the appeal of being able to communicate anytime with someone or just "thumbs up" a photo rather than make real conversation. It's comforting, it's easy and it's all very public.
"There's a sense of belonging in it," Rosen said. "It's a sense of community in a generation where community has sort of disappeared."
Wait, what community? I don't talk to half of these people. There are some I would outright avoid if I met them on the street.
I decided to rid my account of any "friend" that ... well, wasn't.
It wasn't easy, but a pattern emerged. The ground rules:
Don't defriend family. Yes, having parents on Facebook is awkward. Know what's worse? Refriending your mom.
Don't defriend exes. As much as you don't think you want to see pictures of your significant other moving on ... you do.
Don't defriend co-workers: This goes for potential business contacts, too.
Don't defriend friends. The real ones. The ones who help you move.
DO defriend people you've never met.
DO defriend people you'll never see again.
DO defriend people you don't actually like: You know she's on there. The blonde who made fun of you in gym class.
DO defriend over-sharers. Like that person who updates their status "Finally passed my kidney stone!"