Proper Facebook Etiquette

#280 Friend Farm

Friday 3rd August, 2007

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I have received friends requests from a number of people (primarily from high school) whom after I accept their request ignore my standard social nicety message ‘thanks for the friends request…glad to see you are doing well…how do you enjoy working in industry X?’. I must assume from this that they have no interest in sparking up even a net acquaintance, and are simply friend farming or curious about my life. Is the correct approach to then remove them from my friend list?

Friends and friendships are vital to Social Networking Sites (SNS), without them you simply would not be linked up, ‘in the know’ nor have anything to read and distract you from during your morning, lunch and tea breaks. It is the height of rudeness then when once you have ‘recommenced’ a friendship with someone that they do not reply to your ‘social nicety’ query. Naturally people will gravitate toward one another on SNS’s, sadly not because you ARE the most witty, intelligent, charming individual in the pack, but you are ‘known’ to one another and who wouldn’t want to be part of such a mutual connection.

Since no-one is immune to the spell of spontaneously looking up ex lovers, friends, hairdressers and the like that have occupied space and time in your life and various diaries it is your duty to ensure that such requests are managed in a sensible way. As I have written before ‘friending’ everyone whom is ‘known’ or linked to you in some form or other is the way of MySpace teens. For the most part the Facebook user is a confident and grounded individual secure in their social networks. BUT being seen to be a ‘good’ friend, or ‘re-acquaintance’ is more problematic. Loyalty is reflective of your particular friend style and wider social graces, you have responded in kind to offer of ‘friend request’ and have become stuck against their apparent ‘rudeness’ or unobserved social reflexivity to respond to you. Hardly seems fair does it?

I am a great believer in thinking that everyone deserves a second chance. So whilst their image may be tarnished for the time being by lack of social pleasantry, one more simple message, wall post, or even more ‘subtle’ poke could stimulate, or at least remind the offending party that they should respond to you.

Of course what you are up against here is the very artificle (re)creation of a friendship that has either run its course, or was not up to much in the first place (you lost touch for a reason right!). Another factor to consider is how much time do you have to devote to such connections, remember they went searching for you, you were first to have occupied their time and efforts to get in touch with you. Hence in this instance for the new connection to be maintained this is rather dependent on their motivation for getting in touch with you in the first place. A result of a wine-fuelled zip around the information super highway, burgeoning lunch break curiosity, or just to be able to see you and read your profile ?… well only they really know. This puts you in good stead though for setting the ‘limits’ of contact. If after your second attempt at contact (another good method is to stipulate ‘how you know this person’ and in doing so post back their own friend request to them) they are still MIA a wise manoeuvre would be to remove them from your friend list. Not before you scope out their page, subsequent friend connections and current partner. Don’t think of this as ‘snooping’ as hey they started it right!

This take me back to those friendships that were reminiscent of those ‘fair weather’ friends at school. Remember them; the type that only want something when They were in need, and were rarely happy unless you were unhappy. As in those cases where a friendship has previously broken down , this time round things are much easier! With the mere stroke of the keyboard you are without the ‘I’m sorry I don’t think that we should be in contact with one another’ formality. So this way you get to end a friendship without having to manoeuvre yourself through those social duties of ‘we should get together/catch up’ etc. And consider your ego suitably massaged as they were interested in getting back in touch with You – and if only part of a ‘friend farm’ programme then you have no time to waste on this person and they should not be on your friend list anyway! So there!

10 Responses to “#280 Friend Farm”

  1. Maz Hardey says:

    Anon, really liked your concept of ‘legacy’ hmm shall think some more on this and post away!

  2. Anonymous says:

    About legacy I think. I mean there are people I would like to leave behind but hard to do on Facebook as whole thing wants me to stay in touch. Off to Uni after a couple of gap years (working for the cash to go not hols). New places and faces but I’ll have a tail of old ones I’d like to escape (not all just some). Privacy settings OK but don’t want to be rude!

  3. Speller says:

    I use Scrabble on Facebook – great app – but how do I know people wont cheat or is this not the point?

  4. Numbers says:

    General question about SNS and freedom of expression. What is your take on the Survivors of 118 118 group on Facebook controversy? Assume you have been following the story – The Number UK wanting to close off the comments made about the company.

  5. Maz Hardey says:

    5-degrees ( i Like the name ref)

    Your comment is very astute, and touches upon not only those more ‘fluid’ social networks that people are experiencing, but also their management of them.

    There are a number of issues here; fristly are things more ‘fluid’ – networks certainly ‘appear’ as dynamic and are more interconnected than previous technologies have allowed, BUT these remain based upon the same social structures, rituals and obligations.

    As for moving information across from one SNS to another, there are a multitude of ‘tribal’ behaviours that occur. As danah boyd’s work in the US has outlined there appears to be a class stratifcation that occurs on SNS – MySpace for teen ‘drop outs’, Facebook for educated and university students, LinkedIn for upwardly mobile professionals. HOWEVER(!) with the opening up of FB these tribal identities do seem to be disappating. ALSO if we count Flickr, YouTube etc as SNS’s there is a multivarion of identity management that is taking place – where users have profiles across an array of sites for different purposes. There are widgets that let users identify to one another which sites they are member of BUT people also want to remain ‘hidden’ in terms of their identities to certain networks. For example you may not want those that you work with to be able to see you Flickr snaps, or YouTube uploads. To other networks (those closest to you) you may want to ‘reveal’ yourself across sites.

    So identity and Social Networking go hand in hand – management of the self and discovering, or uncovering of identity to one another is important and can be managed on an almost ‘person-by=person , if not network by network basis.

    CONVERGENCE is the big word in Web 2.0 and represents what the future will be like – with profiles , user names etc shared across the board. People , however, whilst continuing to share information will also still want control and be able to reproduce privacy measures to protect their own space(s) and networks. ultimately what we have at the moment it is too early to tell what form these may take in the future and what structures will be most influential – but it will fun to find out! 😀

  6. 5 degrees says:

    Good postings – my question is how fluid are profiles – I mean as new SNS come on how easy is it for tribes to just move information over there or do they have to start over. Are SNS sticky or loose?

  7. Maz Hardey says:

    Anon Two,

    REally interesting issues – this is about surveilled society , but how to manage content and how it ‘should’ be policed are clearly for the time being ‘problems’ for FB developers. Like YouTube at the moment they seem to expect people to police the site themselves – and this is social netowrking after all, so we should be rather savvy with that. however, they do have a repsonsibility to users, especially now that the site is open to ‘all’ including under age teens who do need to have a certain amount of guidance regarding web content that can be viewed and what should be consumed.

    I’m with Virgin and Vodafone, i would not want my ad content to appear on a political site (regardless of whether its the BNP or not). From a ‘reverse’ position i take strong objection to my profile page having an ad for ‘0800’ number on it and a semi-clad female . This is find abohorrent as i cannot control it and quite frankly do not want to look at that.

    despite some ad glitches, FB is still better than MySpace in its lack of popups and annoying ‘in your face’ ads, but theres a long way to go till ‘ they’ get it right.

    also we need to keep in mind that this is a US managed site so political parties like the BNP may not have had the same immediate resonances with those in the states as it does here – a HUGE oversight, but perhaps a genuiene one.

    But non of this will matter really when FB get sued and the plugs pulled re. ‘poke-gate’…!

    watch this space!

  8. Maz Hardey says:

    Ok Anon One, i wlll address your stalker issues in a forthcoming post,

    meanwhile set your privacy setting to HIGH on FB and keep that ex out of your life… leave them to the MySpace immaturity playgournd if i were you!

  9. Anonymous says:

    What is your opinion of the BNP on Facebook and the Virgin and other pull ads?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think I have been stalked on MySpace. An ex was able to access my friends and started to send out nasty messages about me. I dropped off MaySapce but have just set up on Facebook. Might be easier to start over although I hate the idea of him coming back into my group under some other ID – would not put anything past this one. So take care out there.

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