Since I wrote a column earlier this summer about the awkwardness of folks who don't meet the dictionary definition of "friend" asking to be my Facebook friends, the inevitable has happened: Strangers or near-strangers have realized that I'm on Facebook and have sent me friend requests.
Some are easy to ignore. A few PR types have tried to use a friend request as a substitute for e-mailing me or calling me with their pitch. I find this one of the clumsiest, rudest, most boorish abuses of Facebook imaginable--while you're at it, why not follow me in your car while I'm out running or accost me in the check-out line at the grocery store? (Seriously, publicists: Don't do this. If you think I sound annoyed by it, talk to some of my colleagues sometime!)
Others aren't so clear-cut. At the moment, I have 11 friend requests awaiting a click of either the "Confirm" or "Ignore" buttons:
* A journalist on the same private mailing list as me; I don't think we've e-mailed each other directly.
* A reader who I "spoke" with during one of my recent Web chats.
* Two other readers who have e-mailed me somewhat recently with a question or comment.
* A freelance writer who regularly contributed stories for one my old editors.
* Two friends of friends who I don't remember meeting, but whom Google Desktop shows have e-mailed me in the past.
* Three publicists to whom I talk semi-regularly.
* The founder of a software developer who recently e-mailed me about his company's upcoming product.
None of these people meet the book definition of "friend," but in each case they're not coming out of the blue. There's been some prior contact, and some of these people even included a note to explain why they were reaching out in this manner (hint: if your failure to do that forces me to look you up in Google Desktop, you're seriously stretching the definition of "acquaintance").
If I were one of those competitive freaks out to run up their friend count, that would be fine, but, personally, I exited the high-school cafeteria a long time ago.
I appreciate what these people are trying to do; I don't think they mean to communicate anything more than "like your work" or "let's do lunch sometime." But Facebook isn't set up to accommodate that kind of behavior. For now, the most I can do is confine a not-quite-friend to my "limited profile."
Things may improve. The site's "In the Works" list of upcoming features includes this item:
We'll let you organize that long list of friends into groups so you can decide more specifically who sees what.
That would be a start.
In the meantime, I have to figure out what to do with all these would-be friends. Were you in my position, how would you respond to their requests?
Posted by: TL | October 12, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse
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