Friends on Facebook, Not In Life

This blog could very well turn into a site about Facebook, if I let it. There are so many Facebook friendship quandaries to be discussed. It’s still uncharted territory. Our mothers and grandmothers didn’t navigate the murky “friending” and “unfriending” waters and acquire wisdom to pass through the ages. They were too busy… well, actually I don’t know what they were doing. Not wasting their time in front of a computer, that’s for sure. The point is, we’re all just figuring it out ourselves.

The other day, a reader mentioned one such issue that I’m sure we’ve all experienced. Her question: “What do you do with someone who makes no effort to stay in touch with you in real life but is always commenting or liking on Facebook?”

I met someone recently who falls under this category. We met, hit it off (or so I thought), and became Facebook friends. She commented on my links every now and then, liked my statuses, was generally friendly on the good old ‘book. She even made non-committal references to getting together. I, being someone who has learned about the importance of follow-up in the friendship realm, would counter with an offer of meeting up at a specific time or place. She would never write back. Needless to say the friendship didn’t so much blossom.

The truth? The answer to this reader’s question? I do nothing. If a Facebook friend shows no interest in keeping in touch in real life, but is amused at my status updates and wants to click on my links? I’m ok with that. I don’t put anything extremely personal on my profile page. I don’t post anything I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with a coworker or long-lost acquaintance. ‘Cause I’m Facebook friends with coworkers and long-lost acquaintances.

I’ve always said that people who can be your Facebook friends can be your real-life friends. It’s true. But just because they can be doesn’t mean they are.

But if I know anything, it’s that everyone has strong practices when it comes to Facebook. I treat the social networking site as my online profile, the face I show the world. I consider it public domain. But I’m different than many people. I have a blog. I wrote a memoir. Obviously I’m willing—and eager—to share my life with people.

Plenty of Facebook users limit their friends more strictly. They only accept friends that they’re in close touch with. They cull their contacts annually to make sure no strays got in and defriend anyone they haven’t spoke to in the last twelve months. They wouldn’t want someone who isn’t interested in keeping in touch, in being actual friends, having access to their profile.

So there’s no real protocol when it comes to keeping or tossing “friends” who only care about you in the virtual world. I accept these people for what they are. Let them have their fun flipping through my photos if they want. No harm done.

But that’s not right for everyone, so what do you say? Do you maintain Facebook friendships with those who don’t try to keep in touch in real life? Or do accept only true friends on Facebook?

Speaking of Facebook, it would be so cool and I would so appreciate it if you’d “like” the MWF Seeking BFF page. It’s almost at 500! Plus, it’ll provide great access to book news. Same goes for following me on Twitter. Trying to reach the 400 mark. Hooray for social networking. Or something.

7 Comments

Filed under The Search

7 responses to “Friends on Facebook, Not In Life

  1. Melinda

    My general rule is if I haven’t met you in real life, you don’t get on my friends list. On the flip side of that, my husband is friends with a bunch of my cousins down in FL that he’s never actually met but they’ve bonded thru FB and now he’s helping to plan a family reunion with them.
    I dont’ usually delete people either unless they’ve become offensive which hardly ever happens. Even if you don’t talk to all of them all the time, isn’t it nice to know what your old friends are up to? Honestly, if you don’t want anybody to know about your life, you wouldn’t be on FB at all.

  2. Laurie

    Great post, Rachel! I’m starting to think that Facebook is like life suport for friendships that would have naturally fizzled and faded back in day. I wonder if it’s unnatural to be in touch with so many people that we normally would have naturally lost contact with?

  3. LizC

    I approach Facebook differently than most people I know in that I will not friend every random I meet. I limit who I’m friends with. I only add people I know and even then I generally wait for other people to add me because if I haven’t attempted to keep in touch with you in real life I have no burning desire to do so on Facebook. There are exceptions and I’ll add the odd person that I’d actually like to get back in contact with but usually once I add someone on Facebook I generally don’t defriend them so I want to make sure I want them around. However, I have blocked more than one persons status updates from my feed because they’re obnoxious (overwhelmingly the people on my feed are pregnant or have kids and I get so tired of the status updates that all center around what cute/annoying thing their kid did that day or the latest stage of their pregnancy so a lot of people with kids get hidden because I just don’t care. If you can’t talk about anything but your kids then we have nothing in common).

  4. Julie

    Just recently I had an old roommate from 20 years ago send me a friend request, and in her email she said how excited she was to be in contact again and couldn’t wait to hear what I’ve been up to. So I wrote her back and then never heard from her again, aside from a couple “likes” on my photos. What’s the point? It’s so weird. I’d prefer to have “friends” that I actually have real communication with.

  5. Lorrie Paige

    I only really use Facebook for business purposes, but I am friendly there. I set up a business profile but only post there via Twtter and my WordPress blog.

    I MUCH prefer Twitter and Tweet a lot–at least a dozen times a day, including ReTweets.

    So at Facebook, I allow anyone, as I see them as “fans”. But with Twitter my criteria is that I only Follow those who Tweet a lot, and is interesting. I tend to Follow people who are being themselves and not “trying” to be entertaining, be it famous people or not. Most of my Followings are news-related though…I keep my Followings at 100 pretty strictly becuase I strongly believe in reading every post, becuase no point in Following if you don’t read the posts. I Follow people regardless whether or not they Follow me.

    I consider people I Follow on Twitter acquaintances at best. I really don’t believe in online friends, as I have very high standards for the word Friend. Unless we have also personally emailed, called each other on the phone, texted each other, seen each other by webcamming, met in person, or other ways of communication than just simply typing on a social network site, they are simply acquaintances. However, I do consider those who reply to comments I make a bit more special (be it businesses or individuals, and it’s cool when famous people reply to me), but again all just acquaintances at best.

  6. Cheryl

    I’m more of a hybrid. I don’t “friend” people willy nilly, nor do I accept friend requests from people I only know casually. At the same time, I accept that, for my friends anyway, real life is going to take a little higher profile than online life – and I’m OK with that, because my “real” life does, too.

    I like the connection I can maintain with long-lost friends from school or past jobs that is no more than the online equivalent of a Christmas card every year – plus, I like keeping up with what’s going on in their lives via their Facebook updates.

    That said, though, I don’t post anything I wouldn’t want the world at large to know about, and I am hyper protective of sharing information with people I don’t actually know well enough to “friend.”

    I sort of got highjacked into joining Facebook by my brothers, who live in a different state. They post pictures of my nieces (I have 5 of them), and I’m fiercely protective of them!! Mess with me, and maybe I will care and maybe I won’t. Mess with my nieces? I will hunt you down and there won’t be enough left of you to identify by DNA analysis!! 🙂

  7. I am FB friends with people I am friends with in real life.
    I am FB friends with coworkers who I like/trust.
    I am FB friends with people I knew in elementary school, high school, college, grad school, even if we weren’t necessarily friends then.
    I am friends with people who I’ve met only once or twice but connected well with.
    I am FB friends with people who I haven’t met but know online though young adult cancer survivor groups.

    I post about things going on in my life, but nothing that I wouldn’t want any of those people to know.

    I have made connections with people who I wouldn’t have assumed I would connect with. (For example, I have a lot of contact with a guy who I knew in elementary school but probably never actually talked to. Turns out, we have a lot in common and have had some great conversations. He doesn’t live nearby, so we’ve not actually gotten together.)

    I have a network of people to help me with questions that I am looking for first-hand-experience answers to (recent examples mostly revolving around pregnancy and birth) and serve the same purpose for other people.

    Sometimes it’s annoying, and sometimes people are annoying, but overall, it serves me well.

    (Would I consider many of those people real friends? No. But I also don’t think that’s a good enough reason not to FB with them.)

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