Saturday, January 31, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #9: A Social Networking Policy

This is dumb, but with such a high target for the number of resolutions I plan to make this year, some of them are bound to be duds.

I joined Facebook several months ago. I find that it's much too much of a time-suck. But I keep going back every day. There's something nice about the idea (even if it is only an idea) that there's a place where I can go to find out if anything important has happened in the lives of old friends and that if anything important happens in my life, I can let my old friends know in case it matters to them (and where they can guiltlessly ignore it in case it doesn't).

In practice, at least in my experience so far, Facebook is just a collection of mild amusements, where you get to daily see the faces and names of people you know or used to know. Thats fine. It's still pleasant, even if it's largely devoid of any real substance.

Anyway, so far I have not asked anyone to be my Facebook friend. All of the "friends" I have gathered are people who have invited me to be their "friends". I'm half tempted to resolve to maintain that pattern. But I won't. There are people out there with whom I would like to "reconnect" and I'm sure that some of them (who have not already sought me out) are on Facebook. So, I'm going with a more "genuine" policy towards gathering Facebook friends. Here's my ninth New Year's Resolution of 02009:

I resolve that I will not make efforts to become a shameless "friend accumulator" on Facebook. Anyone I invite to be my Facebook friend will be someone who I remember and for whom I have sincerely fond feelings. I won't indiscriminately invite random people who just happened to be in my high school class, or who just happen to live in my town, or who just happen to work for the same company as me.

Note: I'm not saying that those are invalid approaches to Facebook. I have no objection to people doing those things, if that's the way they want to conduct themselves. In fact, I think that such "openness" is sort of admirable. Why not reach out to people you were too shy to approach in high school? Why not show those who you used to exclude that you've grown past the cliquishness of the old days? Why not reach out to a jock if you were a nerd (or vice versa) and discover that you really aren't all that different after all? Why not just try to expand your social circle?

All admirable.

Hence, I will not refuse an offer of friendship from someone I don't remember or someone I barely remember or someone I never really seemed to have much in common with in the past.

But I am not going to be the one to make that first step. If you receive a friendship request from me, it will be because I remember you and I have genuinely fond feelings for you. That's all. However, if you want to be my Facebook friend, you shouldn't wait for me to invite you. And if you don't get an invitation from me, you should not consider it a slight. Know that I have a terrible memory, and know that I will probably not spend lots of time searching for people to be friends. If you want to be friends, great. Go ahead and ask. (But if I really can't remember you, and if you can't establish that we have some link -- even as tenuous as merely having attended the same elementary school, I probably won't accept that invitation.)

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