the great purge

This is a portion of a conversation heard on the bus yesterday that made me laugh internally.

GIRL #1: [to her friend] So … did he call?

GIRL #2: [holds up her phone.] No. He has been deleted. He has been deleted from my life. If I could delete one person from the planet I would delete him.

While amusing, this exchange made me consider under what circumstances I delete people from my phone/ life. I scrolled through my phone and realized that I am not a cell phone padder. I don’t like a lot of clutter and I prefer keeping my contact list as short as possible for a number of reasons – but primarily, out of emotional convenience.

Looking back, I am pretty certain I inherited this philosophy from my parents. Once they hit age 50 they began cutting people out of their lives who caused them more stress than happiness. Some blood relatives were among the first to go. So what if you can’t choose your family?  You can always choose who makes your contact list.

Anyhow, I recently opened my Inbox to find a mass email from a friend saying she has lost her phone and would I please send my contact info her way. While this scenario has undoubtedly caused her a certain amount of frustration, I suspect that losing one’s cell phone has a huge upside. You are automatically purged of those numbers you wanted to lose but felt guilty deleting/should have deleted a long time ago but were holding out on.

Because  I have yet to lose a cell phone, I have not had the luxury of personally experiencing the great purge. (I don’t count the times I lose it in my room or my car.) So several times a year I enforce cuts to the contact list myself. I find the experience to be quite therapeutic. Here’s the basic breakdown of who’s in my phone at any given time:

1. The inner circle. These people never get deleted. Even if I mad at them. These slots are reserved for family members I elect to sit next to during holiday meals and close friends who know my mom and dad and quite possibly like them better than me.

2. The tier two folks. Most numbers fall into this category. These are good friends and other people I might need to call someday to bail me out. These are individuals I know will answer their phone when I call, or will at least check my message later that day. I may not even talk to some of these people for six months to a year at a time. But when I do, it’s like we never had a break in the conversation.

3. The on the fence folks. These are people I haven’t spoken to in awhile, but those who I would take a call from if they ever called. But they don’t. And I don’t ever call them. Given this stalemate, I should probably consider purging them soon. (Most of your Facebook friends probably fit into this category. Why call? Their status updates tell you all you need to know anyway.)

4. The stalkers you accidentally gave your number to or other people you have filed under  “Do not answer,” “trader joe’s stalker,” or “crazy bastard.” These numbers generally have a shelf life of about six months after the last text/phone call. The only reason you store these is to assist the police in their investigations.

5.  The bottom rung. These are people you either went on a date with, or considered going on a date with but haven’t actually scheduled a time to do so. These numbers have a shelf life of a carton of milk – about a week once opened or gone untouched. Or five minutes after the date ends. Which ever spoils first.

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