While shamelessly lurking on The Insidious Social Network (FB) recently I saw the name of a friend from long ago. This person had just “friended” (yes, friend has been verbed…) another old friend of mine with whom I was feeling all proud of myself for reinstating communication.
“Ah ha! Awesome!” I thought as I cavalierly clicked the “Add Friend” button by his name.
Two days later, no notification that I had “been accepted” by this old friend. Feeling slightly humbled, I sent an email to said friend, (can I still say friend? Has it been downgraded to acquaintance?) It was a fairly innocuous email, but said hello and indicated that I was in touch with the mutual friend on whose page I had seen acquaintance’s name.
Two more days. Nothing. And through the grace of modern technology on TISN, I can see that the friend request is still active. Hmm. Not denied. Yet not accepted. What could this mean?
Two more days. Perhaps I the friend-quaintance has not been online. No, he has added other friends.
Two more days. Nothing.
Another day. Maybe we weren’t really friends? Is this all a complex illusion in my sometimes cloudy mind? No, I am sure we were friends, weren’t we?
Another day. Oaky, maybe there is a reason that he doesn’t want to be my friend… what did I do? Did not do?
One week later. Denied.
Through a simple click of the mouse, every adolescent insecurity about friends and popularity was reactivated. Irrational responses reigned supreme: Why wouldn’t this person be my friend? We were friends… what is the deal? What is his problem? What is my problem?
In the midst of this ridiculousness, I forgot that I had been thinking quite a bit about this whole “friending” thing myself. In fact, when I looked at it like that, why would someone who you haven’t talked to in more than ten years automatically want you back in their orbit? Just because you were friends, does that make you still friends? Should you have to add every person that went to the same school you did? Every person who the TISN thinks you “may know”? How wide a net does one really want to cast?
I used to think that I had a rule: I would only “friend” (and why isn’t this befriend anyhow?) people I knew personally. But even that got confusing. Because really, there are a lot of people I know in certain ways that I am not necessarily interested in knowing in other ways, if you get my meaning. So, where to draw the line? Like is there a two-drink minimum or something? How many years of real time are required to justify a cyber-friendship? Plus, there is the thought that perhaps you really will enjoy reconnecting with someone you only sort of knew at one point back then now. And, truth be told I have a few friends, yes really people I consider friends who I have “met” through shared interests online… so what of those? Are there special rules for exes? Family? Professional colleagues? God, it was all becoming such a mess. I had started to cull my “friend” list at one point and stopped because it was like, “Well, if I delete that person I have to get rid of that one… and if I keep this one then I have to keep that one…” And on and on. Ridiculous.
What is the etiquette here? The netiquette as it were. And should we feel offended if we get DENIED?
I suppose if you have a reason you want to be in contact with someone you should request their friendship. It sounds positively Shakespearean in that context, but you know, like extend your hand to their chaperone, that being TISN of course. Conversely, if you have a reason you don’t want to be in caontact with someone you should not ‘accept’ their request. I will admit that not having a reason to refuse doesn’t really seem like a good reason to accept… but now I am just starting to confuse myself. And if this is confusing, how the heck am I supposed to maintain a social “network” of more than 300 people? I mean seriously, is that even possible?
On more than one occasion I have sent email to friends asking: “Who the hell is XXX?” And have recently been getting lots of those emails as well. I suppose that there are people who could have a good reason for having the greatest number of friends possible… like those kids who say things like “I will change my name to Satan if I can get a million friends!!” I mean really, who wouldn’t wanna be that guys BFF?
In my particular case, I realized that there must have been something going on that I was unaware of regarding the person I thought was my friend, and at this point it really had very little to do with me… perhaps while I was ready to look beyond any conscious or unconscious transgression from years past, he was not. I mean, why I felt bad about not being in touch with that person last week when I hadn’t really even thought of contacting them in years seems a little, well, stupid really.
So I tried something sort of new… I decided to let it go.
(After asking the mutual friend what the fucking deal was, of course.)