I have a backlog of friend requests on Facebook. They are all from people I don’t know. Of course, not all “friends” on Facebook are friends IRL (<– how hip am I?). But since I’m not a “friend collector,” I don’t automatically accept friend requests. If you want to be my friend on Facebook, you’d better either 1) make more of your own Facebook profile public or 2) send me a personal message with your request, so I can figure out if I want to let you in the gate.
Why do you want to be my friend, Stranger? Since my own profile is well-guarded, and because usually we have two dozen mutual friends (who are also mostly people I don’t know whom I did accept,) I usually assume you are are attempting to network in some shape or form. But if I see that you have hundreds of other “friends” here are the other things I assume:
- You won’t even notice if I don’t accept your friend request.
- If I do accept, you’ll do nothing to personally acknowledge that, ever.
- You will post things to your wall on a fairly frequent basis, because you have some need to reach out to lots of people, or you wouldn’t have 5618 friends to being with.
- Those things are unlikely to interest me, but will clutter up my wall.
This does not make me eager to accept your request.
Maybe, just maybe, you actually Googled me — I’m easy to find — and thought my work and other writing was interesting, and that’s what motivated you to reach out. I’m pretty responsive to flattery — had you sent me a message, I might have accepted. Instead, you sit, with the others, in Friend Request Limbo.
My friends on Facebook are a mixed lot — actual Friends, former co-workers, professional connections, people I have met on my travels. I’m not averse to connecting with new people, but I hate it when my Facebook experience goes from fun to unwieldy. That’s when I let friend requests languish and, yes, do some unfriending, often of those same people I have never met but accepted anyway. “Unfriending” sounds so harsh, and I don’t mean it to be anything personal. How can it be? We didn’t know each other personally to begin with.