It seems like just about everyone I know now has a Facebook page. It has really become quite the phenomenon.
People are reconnecting with high school friends, old girlfriends and boyfriends, family, distant relatives and even making new friends. It seems to have taken the place of a good old fashioned pen-pal.
So, when does someone go from stranger to friend? That is a question that I recently started thinking a lot about. I originally created my Facebook page to network with other professionals. I wasn't looking to find new friends but things don't always end up like you thought they would. Now I have met so many new people and have made quite a few new "friends." Or have I?
The way to connect with people on Facebook is to ask someone you either know or don't know if they will accept you as a "friend." That person has the option to view the requesting person's profile to see if they know the person or find out who they are, where they live, what they do for a living, view personal photos and read what they are doing throughout the day. The requesting person cannot view those same details about the person they are requesting friendship from because that person's profile is set to private. They then have the option to accept the friend request or to ignore the friend request.
Do you really want to be friends with the person who is asking you to be friends with them?
Once someone has accepted the new friend, both people can now do such things as write on each others walls, comment on their status updates, view photos and comment on them, chat with them live, message them, send them cute, little (sometimes annoying) Facebook gifts such as a virtual drink, flowers, hugs, cakes and cookies.
People I have never met before have requested to be my friend and I have requested to become friends with some people that I didn't know. So, why would someone want to be friends with someone they have never met before? For me, it was about someone sharing the same interests with me, mostly. I do not accept everyone who requests to be my friend. Really -- I do look at everyone's profile before I accept them as a friend and for those who choose to accept me as a friend, I send a nice thank-you for the friend acceptance message.
I now even consider a few of the new people I have met to be actual friends. But can it be a one-sided friendship? Can both people have two different opinions of what friendship actually is? Friendship is defined as "a person you know well and regard with affection and trust." It makes sense to say "he was my best friend at the university." An acquaintance is defined as "a person with whom you are acquainted." I have trouble remembering the names of all my acquaintances.
I may be old-fashioned but I consider someone to be my "friend" once it goes beyond an occasional "Hi, how are you?" and moves on to talking almost every day and revealing personal details about yourself. Once you've exchanged phone numbers, what else could it be? You wouldn't give a perfect stranger (I hope) your personal phone number. Would you?
I actually have come to really like socializing on Facebook. It's great for networking and has allowed me to meet some really great people that I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to meet.
So what is my point here? My point is that unless you plan on actually talking to the person you accept as your "friend," you shouldn't accept them into your Facebook world. Talk about Facebook etiquette. How can it be considered good Facebook etiquette to accept someone as a "friend" only to just ignore that person and never speak with them? Or on the rare occasion that you do, you are very short with them or are cautious of their motives? Perhaps Facebook should be called "Friendbook" or "Aquaintancebook" and its members should only speak to their actual "friends." We should go back to good old-fashioned "fan pages" for those who want to be worshiped without all of the responsiblity of an actual friendship.
My intent was clear when I created my page. I wanted to network and that is what I have done and along the way, I have also made new friends.
What is your intent? Are you clear on your Facebook page? What do you have listed on your info page? Are you looking for a friendship, a relationship? To date, mingle or network? Be clear and don't mislead.