01 April 2009

"...to friend or to defriend, that is the question..."

I hope Shakespeare will forgive how I butchered his famous quote, but since he's dead and don't know nothing no way (I know all those English major friends of mine are cringing in their seats - get over it!), I won't spend a lot of time worrying about his feelings.

So, the current "hot topic" on my favorite social network (Facebook, of course) is the controversy over "friending" and "de-friending" people. Do you have to "friend" everyone who sends you a friend request? And just because you know my friend, does that mean that I have to become your friend now? AND just because we have 5 gazillion mutual friends, does that mean that automatically you and I have to be friends? I...don't...think...so. I hate to admit this but, I have become more and more inclined to click IGNORE on a friend suggestion (that's when one of your friends "suggests" that you should be friends with one of their friends) and friend requests (that's when someone from your past (or present) finds you on Facebook and now wants to be your friend). Just as in real life, everybody doesn't need to be your "friend".

Now, I will admit that when I first joined Facebook - I accepted every friend request /suggestion / hint that came across my profile. It was exciting seeing my friend count go up and up and up...but then I realized something: a lot of those people were lonely and didn't have anything better to do than to comment on my life - every status was commented on - every picture generated some opinion - and not always positive either. I realized that everybody is NOT your "friend" and some people shouldn't be given "friend" status - so what to do?

First, I tried restricting access to my profile, but in some cases, even that did not work. So, I had to make the hard decision to "defriend" some folks. I pulled up my friend list (which was in the high 300 range), and literally went through the names one by one. Some people, who I had not communicated with in a while, were sent "Hey, I thought we were going to use FB to keep in touch.." messages - if they responded, they were spared the "defriend" button. If they didn't - guess what - we're not friends anymore. Other people who literally were just getting on my nerves were also defriended. And the funny thing is, right about this time, I started having conversations with other Facebook friends who were going through the same growing pains. "Do I have to accept this friend request?" "How can I delete this person without hurting their feelings?" seemed to be questions coming into my inbox on a more frequent basis.

And then, the media picked up on this "trend". In the last week, I have heard / read/ seen several stories about the "defriending" trend on Facebook. In one story, a daughter defriended her mother because her mother started asking too many questions about the pictures the daughter posted; in another, a husband defriended a wife because the wife was inquiring about all the female friends of the husband; and one lady called into a radio talk show to talk about how her husband would not "friend" her, but was friends with his ex-wife on Facebook (what is THAT all about?)

I don't know. I think you have the right to decide who you allow access to your life. Sometimes you are so excited about the prospect of (re)connecting with an old classmate or ex-boyfriend or you are just nosey about what someone you know is doing - but if that person oversteps the lines of the friendship you wish to have with them, you have the right to deny them access. Just my opinion, but then again, it is my life.

Here's one final thing (for my Facebook friends reading this): if you don't want someone to comment on something - don't post it on your profile, put it in your pictures, write it in your notes. Just by doing any of those things, you are giving implied consent to open up that area of your life for comment. So, be careful what you post and if you don't want the whole world to know what you are saying to your BFF or your relative - send it in a private email, don't post it on your wall. Just some advice.

Be blessed.

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