Proper Facebook Etiquette

#753 Knowing the limits: Have I gone too far on Facebook?

Thursday 23rd July, 2009

I think I’ve overstepped things on Facebook. I’m attracted to someone who hangs out at the same uni as I do. I see him around all the time, but he hangs with a different circle of friends who are away from my group – they’re the ‘cool gang’. Last month, I found his Flickr page via Facebook (he has a photographer page there as he’s a photographer) and I left some comments saying how great I thought his pictures were.

Also he appears all the time on my Facebook feed in the ‘People You May Know’ list. After I posted my comments on Flickr he sent me back a really quick response saying thanks and all that. So a few days later I messaged him on Flickr and sent him a Friend Request on Facebook. Both of which he replied to, but without accpeting my Friend link. I’m perplexed. What’s going on. Does he like me? Have I gone too far?

I should add that none of my friends know that I’m gay, and this is my first time pursusing someone like this.

For most of us – and I include myself here – the nuances of interaction and person-to-person communication are full of complications with subtle variations and consequences. These can be unexpecedly strong, compelling and form (for the most part) a necessary part of our everyday social lives. So far, so without pitfalls. Just. HOWEVER, as your dilemma hints the things that occur when we’re poking on Facebook, commenting on Flickr etc. are not, nor should they be, dismissed as purely ‘cyber’ friendly. In fact what happens, or as is more often the case, what doesn’t happen, have at their heart very real life consequences. A form of which you are experiencing with your anticipated sense of wanting to make a connection with this guy, and his un/reply to you.

Thus far, you have nothing to be ashamed of with how you have conducted yourself – and you should be applauded for not falling into needy stalker territory. It is not like you are seeking to follow the guy round uni, or are overcompensating for desire with a deluge of inappropriate messages. Keep at the heart of your intentions the utmost diligence, respect and consideration for another and these are steps that are to be admired.

At times it is all too easy to forget through friendships that are initially pursued on the web (even with a offline context such as the same uni.) that there are various social negotiations – hoops if you will – that one has to leap through in order to establish a reasonable level of communication and contact. In short, what you seek is a reciprocated and mutually shared friendship. So far you have only an indication of his recognition through a ‘quick response’ – was this extensive? or just a friendly/polite ‘hello’ to your comments on Flickr?

I am inclined to say that your approach reveals a shy side, it is creative and subtle, but perhaps too subtle for his notification to acknowledge you as a Friend – which could explain why he has not accepted your Friend Request. It may also be that his criteria for accepting friends on Facebook is different from your own – perhaps he would feel more comfortable with an in-person introduction. Be very careful if you do decide to approach in this way. At this stage you are essentially strangers.

It can be frustrating that one cannot always predict how the other person will react or receive a prompt via Facebook. Your intention may be implicit in the content – so your comments on Flickr were intended to open up the friendship field of discussion with a (think Monica from Friends) easy breezey: ‘hi there, this is an introduction to me, oh btw love your pictures’. Such comments could also be interpreted as ‘hi, yeah you don’t me, and this isn’t intended to be, but could be desperate/stalkerish, can we now be friends?’ request. Eeek.

What I am suggesting is that the same message can be interpreted a number of different ways – especally when we consider how these also come in a number of guises e.g. a Facebook Wall Post, email, blog comment etc.

The best Mission Operandi is to let things take their own turn, be prepared for the possibilities of the unexpected – or rather misdirected – as you seek to establish a connection. On your side the attraction is strong. On his, you may fall below the line of interest/ing.

In short the mutual acknowledgement of a friendship or even your ‘hey we know each other’ may take time and involve a co-present meeting – as you do down the pub, around uni etc. Then this can lead to more formal set of relations beyond being ‘just acquaintences’ and hopefully (from your point of view) a friendship which will carry forward into a romance.

From what you have described it sounds like he has kept a distance, not becuase he is rude, or self-serving, but that he is already caught up with his friends, activities etc. In a similar situation (and I have been) the advice to me has been ‘he’s just that into you’. Harsh. But honest, and you know where you stand.

In terms of how to conduct yourself from here on in, continue by being open. You may want to push things with a ‘hi’ greeting next time you see him in-person at uni. Then you have a much better idea of his response as we reveal ourselves more by our body, rather than Facebook, language.

In short keep things genuiene and non-freaky. Generally one cannot, nor should, force these things along. Keep it open, keep it light, keep it casual.

As an aside, that you state you are ‘gay’, has no influence on how you sh/could pursue this friendship. Such incidences are as full of dilemmas for us heterosexuals too.

18 Responses to “#753 Knowing the limits: Have I gone too far on Facebook?”

  1. SherylNot says:

    Interesting that Facebook's Chief Operating Officer recognizes social-networking fatigue "I think people sometimes feel uncomfortable hitting 'ignore' (on friend requests), but if you don't want to connect to someone, that's why it's there."

    Well thats advice from the top!

  2. Polly says:

    Time here in the US had a article on 10 rules of Facebook.

    Does not come close to your Blog. Be nice to have it in a Web page from (to make finding past content better). Is there ant techie reader who could help?

  3. Fasn says:

    Comments getting (not this one thou) strange – wonderful blog. Hope Facebook buy you out!

  4. Nat says:

    Start work and what better than this blog. Loving the theme better than a soap.

    Cant believe what follow SNSers get up too

    More please

  5. Mature???????? says:

    In a bitter split I made a group 'John Smith (took it down as I am now all grown up – so not the Bs real name – how adult me!) gave me crabs'. Got 30 members in a month…………

  6. Anonymous says:

    Did you know that if one of your friends comments on a 'locked' person's photo you can see that album?

  7. Sue says:

    I look up ex's and love seeing how much useless they are and remember that I am so much better out of them. Did get a weirded out when I looked up the college wimp to find he was now a total hunk – or his pics are. Must grow up.

  8. Love the blog more than anyone says:

    You gotta be careful out there people. An ex posted topless hol pic of me after we split so my strict Catholic parents would see them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My mate searches for hot profile pictures and tries to add them to his friend list. Says he wants to get a hottie network.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Relatedly I took my cheating BF down as I knew his pass and posted his behaviour all over the network :) Sweet

  11. Praha says:

    There is nothing false or ingenuine about facebook attraction. Nor is it weird. Social stigmas about virtuality are slowly eroding, and attraction on the cognitive level – ie that which takes place in your mind, primarily – is in fact the norm. The physical, ultimately, is secondary to that. Provided you conduct yourself in a socially acceptable manner – virtually or not – there's no problem, no over-stepping of marks. If you met someone in a cafe, behind the til, and were attracted to them, would that be dirty? What if you spoke to them? No. If you folow them around and so on, possibly a bit different. But that's not what you're doing. I would say you're fine. Even engineering a 'normal' situation within which to pursue anything more within 'real' parameters would be normal and OK. Going back to the waiter analogy – if you follow them home, it's dodgy. Yet if you ask a colleague about them, or even 'arrange' to be in a bar at the same time – provided it doesn't get compulsive if the answer you get is a 'no', then it's quite within standard operating guidelines!! It's all about common sense. Don't be invasive or creepy, but being pro-active ebcause you fancy someone, well – often the greatest things would never start if someone didn't step up to the plate, out of a comfort zone. Good luck!

  12. jasmine says:

    Yeah so I found my true love on facebook. But they were allso married. So now they've splitville. I don't feel guilty.

    So yeah this guy should just ask this other guy out and see waht happens.

  13. The Saint says:

    Facebook is a sin!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Give up. He's already said NO!

  15. Addicted to your blog says:

    Not really an answer, but a related observation… you might want to consider how you would feel if you were pursued in the same way. so kind of a “How do you know…” question – how do you know they like you, are attracted to you, will be your friend etc.

    Like I know you Doc cos of your blog (i've commented before) and we've had conversations about a year or 2 back, but we're not close friends. So we met randomly and now Facebook lets us stay in touch.

    So how do you know? you don't.

  16. Anonymous says:

    My housemates laugh at me cos I fancy this guy I know on Facebook. Well he's my sister's friend. I look at his page all the time. That's normal isn't it? Does this mean that we're just friends. I want more.

  17. Abi love says:

    I think that I can do better. Stalk him until he likes you.

  18. Mr Wozby says:

    I am so pleased that someone else is going through this! I'm also gay and am really attracted to one of my friends. Yes being gay has nothing to do with how I pursue someone, but I find that my friends do have a LOT to say about it!

    It's about being colourful and bright! Then they are attracted to You sweetie!

    Pick the game up, I would post some photo's to his Flickr page – some daring shots?!…

    Ooo lala!

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