How to Declutter Your Social Network
Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has had an epic run on The New York Times best-sellers list and sold over two million copies to date. It’s also spurred a cult following of decluttering evangelists and made the 30-year-old author and home organization guru a talk show–circuit favorite. Kondo’s unique folding method and kind yet no-nonsense approach to purging homes of all unnecessary, joyless objects has also made her client waiting list over six months long. Inspired by her delightful—and effective—method, we wondered what would happen if we applied the life-changing magic of tidying up to our sprawling social network.
After a test run, we are happy to report that the method brought as much joy to our desktops and iPhone screens as it did to our closets and kitchens. We challenge you to try our reimagined Kondo clean-up and see if it sparks joy in your social life!
Have you ever opened Instagram and felt your heart drop in your stomach? Maybe it was triggered by a photograph of your ex looking happy with a new girlfriend, or an image of the stunning Isles of Capri—a painful reminder that you are definitely not there. What would an anxiety-free social network look like for you? Perhaps it’s one in which everyone who shows up on your feed is actually a real friend. Perhaps it’s a network where no frenemies, ex-partners, or former co-workers appear. Think about what your stress-free feed might look like, then start unfollowing.
If you’re familiar with Marie Kondo’s tidying-up method, you know that the method must all be done at once—not stretched out over years of time. Be diligent with your decluttering. Block out a Sunday or even use a personal day to sit down at your computer and organize your digital connections. Consider hiring a babysitter if necessary. Your goal is to have one day of uninterrupted time. That means no music, no visitors, and no Netflix streaming in the background. In order for this method to be effective, you must give it your undivided attention.
Kondo is all about respecting your belongings. She advises clients to consider the feelings of the clothes crammed into overstuffed drawers and the shoes stashed in boxes under your bed. If your wardrobe looks miserable, you’ll undoubtedly feel miserable every time you go into it looking for an outfit. The same is true of your social networks. Take pride in your online profiles—they are how the world sees you. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile with the correct job information or résumé-building skills, why would you be motivated to prune your connections? Take time to upload an appropriate profile picture to each of your social media platforms, add your correct title and company, copyedit and update your résumé, and make sure you feel good about the social profiles you’re sharing with the world.
Kondo’s first piece of advice is to tackle your clutter by category, not by room. If you start with your bedroom, that clutter will just migrate around your house and snowball to the size of a colossal mess that seems impossible to organize. Instead, Kondo recommends picking a category, like books. Declutter and organize all of the books in your house before moving on to something else, like papers or clothes.
Let’s apply this category lesson to your social networks. Start with Facebook. Click on your “Friends” tab and organize by high school friends, then college friends, and then recently added friends. This way you can see the connections you’ve made throughout your Facebook timeline, batched into phases of your life. It makes it easier to place people and ascertain if they are really worth your mental space. Next, go to Instagram. This is a bit more challenging, as the people you follow are sorted chronologically, with the most recent connections at the top. Scroll down to the bottom of your “following” stream, and immediately unfollow everyone whose feed you either haven’t remembered, seen, or liked in ages. Finally, tackle your LinkedIn network. Sure, you’d never want to be too harsh with decluttering here (who wants to get below 500+ connections?), but make sure your contacts make sense.
The philosophy behind Kondo’s joy test is to put your object-purging in a positive light. Instead of focusing on what you’re throwing away or, in this case, who you’re defriending, think about the connections you are keeping. As you go through your long list of connections, ask yourself, Does this person bring me joy? If the answer is yes, that’s a keeper. If the answer is no, or perhaps you think, This person’s updates make me feel bad about myself, delete. The joy test is all about intuition. If you can cleanse your social networks of people who trigger negative feelings for you, you will end up improving your overall joy.
We’re not going to lie. Decluttering, whether it’s your home or your social network, is an exhausting process. It requires a lot of decision-making, and even though you’ve stripped your possessions and connections down to what gives you joy, it can be a nostalgic process. So, once you’re finished, celebrate your tidying victory. Play around on all of your social platforms, and bask in your delightful collection of friends and network of joy. We guarantee every notification you get after completing this process will do nothing but bring a smile to your face.
New to the Kondo method? Shop her books below, and rev up your digital decluttering with a new phone case.