Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let's be friends

I'm not actually asking. More or less I'm making fun of most people. See, this is the new default policy due to social networking. It is as if the the entire world is some tween girl cheerleader. They meet someone and 3 seconds later it turns into "OMG. We SO have to be BFFs on Facebook." Grow up. I love Facebook, Twitter, and all social media. I truly do. The value is limitless in business and finding old friends or growing new relationships. However, you may notice that my Facebook friends list went from 650 to 413 and on Twitter I have 321 followers, but only follow 244 people.

The world today consists of "friending" everyone you've ever met, know of through someone else, heard of as a celebrity, or may have seen on the street and had the wherewithal to use your stalker ability, spidey-sense and Sherlock Holmes clue finding skills to track down and friend request in a total non-creepy way. And there has developed a subculture about accepting these friend requests. People feel awkward denying them and it's even harder to delete them once they've made it to the inner sanctum of your Facebook friends list that contains only the closest of confidants, right? I don't get it either, but it's happened.

Not to me, holmes. I'll deny a friend request faster than you can say "Mark Zuckerberg made me do it" and just because you've been accepted it doesn't mean you can't be voted off my virtual island. Admittedly, I'm quicker to deny someone than delete someone. Let's consult with our good friend Webster on the matter. This is a friend request. So how is friend defined - a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Well I'll be damned. A person whom one knows - so that eliminates all the people that friend me because I'm in the military just like their sister's boyfriend's cousin's hairdresser's next door neighbor. That also eliminates the people who friend request me because they graduated from the same high school as me, except they did it in 1974. This also includes someone that I may have met once. I know who you are, but I don't know you.

The 2nd half deserves its own paragraph. Mutual affection. That means we have to like each other. There goes the ex-wife. There goes the group of people I suffer through each day at work and we're only in contact because the federal government says we have to be. That even excludes pretty much anyone I just met. Just because we laughed together once, doesn't mean there's a mutual affection there.

Now... I understand I said it's a good way to grow new relationships. That means I'm not going to blindly exclude everyone. I don't believe in blanket policies... unless the policy is about everyone giving me money. But let's not swing all the to other side of the spectrum and blindly accept every person we've ever laid eyes on either. 

I'm seeing this happen right now as a matter of fact with one individual who is friending every single person. So this person recently met a bunch of new people all at once. I suppose they all got along well enough for the time they spent. Then this person pretty much disappeared. Even the tether to the crowd that this individual had in the first place is more or less nonexistent lately. But... friend requests are popping up faster than zits on a adolescents face - and across all platforms. People have chatted about it, "Dude, another request from you know who on X network." 

1) If you're friends with someone in life and online, do you need to be friends with them EVERYWHERE? Most people I'm friends with on either Facebook OR Twitter and only very few I keep on both. Those are usually business people or those that put out unique content between the 2.
2) If you're barely friends with someone in life, what's the value of chasing them up and down the information superhighway?
3) If you're getting denied in some places, why the hell would you chase them to others? 

You don't have to be friends with everyone, everywhere, every moment of the day. Some people just don't like you. Sometimes, people don't get along. This is why the amazing invention of the Internet in its amazing iteration of Web 2.0 is bloated and stuffy with more nonsense than value. It's why the social web has jumped the shark and we need to rethink it again.

Maybe it's time we think of what it means to be a friend, what we're sharing online and if we really want all these people to see it constantly. And also consider the level of desperation shown when you feel the need to friend everyone within minutes of meeting them. I think it's creepy, frankly.

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