The world of Facebook is a very interesting place. There is no other situation where can we interact with such a wide spectrum of people, from best friends and family to that-one-girl-I-met-at-a-club-one-night-in-2010. Such an extensive continuum inherently brings into play an equally wide-ranging area of Facebook “etiquette.”
It all begins with the Friend Request. When I first logged into Facebook I was inundated with requests from people. Some of them I would consider actual friends, and others I just sort of knew from high school. I was giddy with the idea of reconnecting with my past and accepted them all. Every. Single. One.
As time went on and my list of “friends” grew to over 200, I realized a few things. First, I could not possibly keep up with all of these people. Second, their posts made it clear that I didn’t want to. It is here that we run into our first dilemma. In the beginning I just “unfriended” folks willy-nilly who irritated me or posted mundane and uninteresting things. (Nonstop updates about your breastfeeding woes or constant complaining about your lousy life in general got you booted pretty quickly). Unfortunately, some of those people didn’t take too lightly to being axed from my virtual world, and I received a couple of nasty Facebook “messages.” (It turns out that you do not need to be friends with someone to harass them via private message. Well played, Facebook).
Not wanting to the cause of the complete downfall of someone’s self-esteem, I quit getting friendly with the “unfriend” button and wandered into the world of blocking and muting. I was beyond thrilled when Facebook rolled out the option to restrict who views my posts, and even more thrilled when I realized I could axe folks from my precious News Feed without their knowledge. Now I may update and enjoy updates in peace.
I thought I was on the up-and-up with all of this until I read a blog post from my friend Melissa. She described an encounter where she ran into a Facebook friend she had hidden from her News Feed and was now expected to pretend like she knew every detail of this friend’s life. Um…awkward?
All of this drama got me to thinking. When did our self-worth begin to hinge on who accepted or denied a friend request? An even bigger question is when did I start thinking I was so important that someone would care if I hid them from my News Feed? I’m afraid that the virtual community of Facebook has skewed my values completely! I have concluded that there is absolutely no reason I should feel obligated to accept a friend request from someone who I am only going to hide anyway. All that does is perpetuate the lie that we are actually more than mere passing acquaintances and are seriously interested in what the other has going on.
This realization had me racing to the computer to begin the Great Friend Purge. Yes, I actually wore out my long-neglected “unfriend” button and got rid of all of my virtual baggage. You know what? It feels great!
So, if you happen to be paying close enough attention to notice that I have deleted you, I apologize. If it happened, we probably haven’t interacted in a very long time anyway. Please spare me the private message and get on with your life. It is not a snub on your personal character; it is simply a reflection of our actual relationship, which is non-existent.
I’m curious how other people handle their Facebook matters. I see lots of people with hundreds and hundreds of friends and wonder if they have all of those people popping up in their News Feed, or are they all hidden? Do they even know any of those people? Drop me a comment and let me know what your Facebook policy is!