These days I feel like I’m in a constant conversation with everyone around me about Facebook. One person blocked an ex-boyfriend, another saw an ex-girlfriend with another man, my mom wants to be my Facebook friend…drama!
This has been on my mind for awhile. What is happening here? Why do I talk about Facebook every single day? I think our usual social practices and standards – and protections – are being tossed aside in favor of being connected to everyone all the time. The following anecdotes illustrate some of the interesting situations I’ve run into recently.
“Being Connected to be Connected”
I noticed awhile back that a friend of mine has over 500 friends on Facebook. I asked her what was up with that, and here was her reply:
there are people out there with THOUSANDS of friends. people request my friendship and then we never say peep. it doesn’t make sense. it’s being connected to be connected. i mean i have best facebook friends, good facebook friends, friends i know through friends on facebook, one night stand facebook friends, freinds [sic] that i don’t know facebook friends and it just goes on.
As my own friend list has grown exponentially, I’ve had to reevaluate my definition of ‘friend.’ Some of my Facebook friends are actual friends, but a large number of them are very loose acquaintances. I hardly know some of them.
So if someone asks you to be their Facebook friend, and you don’t really know them, where do you draw the line?
Stop asking to be my friend
This might sound misanthropic, but…if I don’t know you at all, stop asking to be my friend! Not YOU, but you know…those PEOPLE who are serial friend requesters. I’ve experienced a recent rash of friend requests from people who I apparently went to high school with, but who I did not really know at all – I don’t recognize their names. I ignore the requests, but they keep coming in from the same 3 or 4 people. I don’t want to block them, because that seems rude, but is it also rude to keep ignoring friend requests? Should I contact them and explain? Who has time for Facebook etiquette?
Stop asking to be my friend and stalking me
My boyfriend experienced what he considered ‘harmless’ [e.g. psycho] Facebook stalking at the hands of one such high school acquaintance. The person in question sent so many spammy notes and made so many strange friend suggestions that he de-friended her – and set in motion a near-daily onslought of friend requests and messages. “i just wanted to be your friend! i just wanted to introduce you to other people!’
Now consider if this was the real world. If someone began a campaign of calling you or stopping by your house every day to beg for your friendship, you might get a restraining order. But on Facebook, somehow it seems more innocent. Thank the lord for the ability to block; finally he blocked her and moved on.
Blocking the Ex
Another friend found herself drastically limiting her Facebook activity because she was still Facebook friends with her ex. Even though they didn’t have any real-world contact, they remained FB friends as a gesture of goodwill or something. Finally, instead of living in fear that too-telling photos of her new life would be posted, she blocked the ex; and after that, I noticed that both of them posted more freely.
Apparently blocking someone means that the other person will not be able to see any trace of you on Facebook – I think this is sometimes a healthy thing. When you break up with someone, you usually need some distance; you don’t want to hear all about that person’s daily activities. So I suppose I am a proponent of blocking the ex, at least at first – you can always re-friend later.
Friends with Mom?
My mom is usually an early adopter – digital cameras, tiVO, really most gadgets. I shouldn’t have been surprised when she wanted to be my Facebook friend, but it threw me – I was thinking, what untoward photos or comments do I need to hide? But then I realized that I’m 30 years old, my inner party animal is fading, and I haven’t sent my mom a constant stream of e-mails lately like I used to; so maybe this can be a good way for her to keep up with my life without my having to do a thing. Win-win! So far it’s working out, although she did make me take down a couple ‘ugly’ (her words) photos of her that I had tagged – OH mom…
5 Reasons I love Facebook
After all this griping, I have to say that I love Facebook and have an intermittant addiction to it. Here are some of the reasons why Facebook is my friend:
- You can let peeps know what’s up with hardly any work
- And share photos with everyone without having to actually ‘share’
- I think it will be a good networking tool in the future
- Secret stalking capabilities
- Organizing power a la Obama campaign
And more! I’m about to embark on a semester-long class called E-communities, and I’m excited to get lots and lots of perspective on the Facebook Revolution.