As many of you already know, “The Purge” is a film set in a future dystopian America in which any and all crime is made legal once a year. So from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. on the anointed day, anything goes.
Not long ago I held a purge of my own. It also lasted 12 hours—from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.—and as far as I know I didn’t commit any crimes. But I did eliminate the lives of more than 3,500 people.
Their lives that exist online.
Let me explain. I noticed on social media (‘facespace’) that I hadn’t seen a post from a ‘friend’ of mine in quite some time. The reason it caught my attention was because her modus operandi had always been to post every little detail of her idyllic Norman Rockwell life; a life you can only dream of having for yourself (sarcasm intended). It didn’t take long to realize why I hadn’t seen any posts from her in a while; she had deleted me as a social media friend. That I didn’t ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ over her posts or even acknowledge them with the obligatory ’thumbs up’ probably had something to do with it.
That made me wonder what I was doing with over 4,000 friends on facespace, particularly since I was only interacting with a small percentage of them. When I first signed up, I made a lot of friends so I could promote my running club, road races I directed, and, to a certain extent, my writing. Today I’m pretty much a lone wolf when it comes to my running, although I continue to use social media in sharing my writing with my friends.
‘My friends.’ That’s what led me to my facespace purge. I wanted my friends to be those I would still be friends with if we personally interacted on a regular basis. The criteria I used were simple: anyone exhibiting any of the following types of social media behavior was purged.
• Opinionated political posts, regardless of which way they were leaning. I can make my mind up for myself, thank you very much.
• Shameless solicitations for attention and/or approval. You know the type: people posting an endless array of ‘selfies’ (usually taken in the front seat of a car or in front of a mirror), details of their latest workout in the gym or the extravagant meal they had for dinner.
• An absence of acknowledging anything I personally have ever posted. Ordinarily this wouldn’t bother me, until a friend posted a video of herself opening two boxes of new running shoes…and received several hundred ‘likes’ from her (Warning: sarcastic font ahead) ‘adoring public.’
• People screaming for attention. Don’t you dare act like you don’t know what I mean by that, because I know better.
Additionally, if I didn’t recognize the friend’s name and/or photo—most likely because they no longer interacted on social media, they were goners.
My circle of friends on social media is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 500. I feel comfortable with that number, although truth be known I’m still not convinced that social media isn’t ‘the devil.’
Facespace has been in the news quite a bit recently for its shenanigans and ‘security breaches.’ At the rate things are going it will only be a matter of time before the powers-that-be think I’m a Russian spy or something far, far worse. A democrat, perhaps…or possibly a republican. (I’ll never tell; some things need to be kept private, remember?)
The next time I do another facespace purge there’s a good chance it will only require the elimination of one person: Me.

Scott Ludwig lives, runs, and writes in Senoia.  His latest book, “Southern Charm: Columns from a small town Georgia newspaper,” as well as the rest of his books, can be found on his author page on Amazon. He can be reached at