Are we friends?

friend (noun)
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.
5. ( initial capital letter ) a member of the Religious Society of friends; a Quaker.

I understand that my personal definition of friend is not necessarily going to exactly match everyone else’s. I likewise understand that there are degrees of friendship; I myself, if pressed, could generally classify various friends in a fairly quantitative way that I think would make sense to most. So I get that.

HOWEVER. I cannot help feeling that social media has somehow confused the masses about friendship, and frankly, I think it’s time we rectified some misconceptions about friendship, etiquette, and why I think I may know more than the usual number of people who are either completely clueless or on drugs.

Let’s start with blogging, shall we? I blog. Maybe you blog. If you’re reading this, are we friends? Let’s think about that: People often tell me that reading my blog makes them feel like we’re friends. That’s part of what I really like about blogging, and I totally understand that, because I have the same reaction when reading blogs I like, too. “I totally feel like I know her!” I think, after reading someone whose writing totally resonates with me.

The trick, I think, is to remember the difference between “feeling like” you know someone and ACTUALLY knowing someone. Friendship is reciprocal; if you read me, but we’ve never actually talked, I still think you’re really pretty and everything, but… we’re not actually friends.

What if you’ve commented and I’ve emailed you back? What if that’s happened, say, more than once? Well, now we’re acquaintances at least. You know me, I sort of know you. We’re friendLY, at a minimum. We have both participated in interaction with one another. Definitely closer to friendship than a lurker who’s never commented, yes. But friends? It depends.

My rule of thumb is that if you have to WONDER if you’re friends with someone… chances are, you’re not. Think about your inner circle: Do you have to consider whether or not you’re BFFs? No. Obviously.

But back to degrees of friendship, for a minute. Not everyone can be besties. There’s definitely levels of friendship. So, my personal friendship hierarchy might go something like this:

BFFs: I love you, you love me. If you say you need me, I’ll be there, and ditto for you, no questions asked. We’ve known each other a really long time. You’ve seen me cry. We never get to spend enough time together (damn life, always getting in the way). I think of you like a sister.

Good Friends: I love you, you love me. I can ask you for a favor in a pinch and you know you can do the same. We’ve known each other for quite a while. You’ve seen me upset. We wish we had more time to see each other (damn life, always getting in the way). I think of you as part of my village.

Casual Friends: I am quite fond of you, and you of me. We enjoy chatting but don’t often actively seek out each others’ company. Chances are excellent our children are friends or we’re email or Facebook kind of friends. I think of you as someone in my sphere who I don’t mind running into.

Acquaintances: My feelings towards you are probably neutral. I don’t really know how you feel about me, but I assume it’s about the same. Circumstances sometimes bring us together. We know each others’ names.

Colleagues: My personal feelings towards you aside, I consider you a coworker of sorts. For business reasons I will be cordial towards you, and for personal reasons I may also consider you either a casual or a good friend. Even if not a friend, I may maintain a bit more of a relationship with you than I would a mere acquaintance, because we may be mutually beneficial to one another, work-wise.

So that all makes sense, right? I mean, I think it does.

But. Then life suggests to me that either I’m all crusty or people just don’t think.

First example: Facebook friend requests. I’ll friend just about anyone on Facebook if I know them. I’m not terribly picky about it. But I feel like the key words there are IF I KNOW THEM. I receive an astonishing number of Facebook friend requests from people I don’t know, and 90% of them come without a message of any kind.

Hint: Read my blog, and want to be friends on Facebook? Send a request and include a note that says, “I’m a fan of your blog!” I will probably then accept your friend request, because I at least have some CONTEXT.

True, sometimes a friend request comes from someone I don’t know, but we have 100 friends in common, and then I can look at those friends in common and say to myself, “Ah, surely this is someone who [reads my blog] [went to my high school] [enjoys goofy pictures of small dogs]” as warranted.

But a really good way to get me not to accept your friend request AND to wonder if you’re a deranged stalker is to request friendship without a note when I have no clue who you are. (I supposed you could include a note and STILL be a deranged stalker, but at least then you’d be a deranged stalker with nicer manners.)

Second example: LinkedIn connection requests. Everything I just said about Facebook goes double or maybe triple for LinkedIn. If you’re some random person who wants to look at my pictures of Licorice on Facebook, eh, whatever. But LinkedIn is where I’m conducting my business, so how savvy of a business move is it for me to connect with someone I don’t know at all, who couldn’t even be bothered to take five seconds to write an introductory note? Exactly.

While that doesn’t happen as often as the random Facebook requests, I seem to get at least one LinkedIn request a week from someone I don’t recognize. And the default message you get if you don’t include a personal message makes me laugh, every time:

Random McWhopants has indicated you are a Friend:

Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn.

Dear Random McWhopants:

Call me a fussy grammarian, but I dislike the substitution of “since” for “because,” which means your brief note has already made me dislike you. Additionally:

1) I have no idea who you are.
2) While it’s flattering that you trust me, it’s also creepy (see 1).
3) I try only to add people to my network whom I both know and trust (see 1 and 2).
4) Therefore, while your invitation is very kind (?), no thanks.

Best,
Mir

Is this a side effect of social media, people somehow losing touch with the basics of, “Hello, nice to meet you?” Or am I just being a curmudgeon?

Wait, before you answer that, GET OFF MY LAWN.

[Edited to add: OKAY OKAY OKAY!! I caved. You can now become a fan of this blog on Facebook, and then we can ALL be BFFs! Yay!!!]

76 Responses to “Are we friends?”

  1. 1
    Mandy March 7, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Exactly.

  2. 2
    Otto March 7, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Wait, you’re on Facebook? Why aren’t we friends? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

    -otto

  3. 3
    Jen March 7, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Hello, nice to meet you! You have a very lovely lawn. I shall now remove myself from it. ;)
    Oh, and it appears Otto would like to be friends. I’m sure he would mow the aforementioned lawn for a friendship request.
    Oy, I haven’t had enough coffee this morning to attempt humor…

  4. 4
    Grace March 7, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    I don’t disagree, but I’m also kind of a big advocate of considering the relationships we build online as “real” friendships. I spend more time, more emotional energy, with my online friends (on FB, community members, my blog, others’ blogs, whatever) than I do with the ones I see in person. That may be sad, but that’s the world in which we live. Or at least the one in which I live.

  5. 5
    Lady Euphoria Deathwatch March 7, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    HI Mir,

    I agree with you 100%. I’m not on facebook just for that reason. (Strangers coming out of the woodwork wanting me to be their friend.) I lasted only 24 hours before shutting it down.

    ‘Friends’ on facebook seem to be more of a status thing. I have a bigger pile of them than you do. Then I’m better than you.

    Not my thing and I’m glad you laid down some rules for yourself.

    Hugs, Euphoria

  6. 6
    Kelly March 7, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Because of WantNot I spend (but save) lots of money… does that make us friends? ; )

    Very well said.

    I was just telling my husband the other day how social media has definitely put a new spin on things. It used to be aspirational that one day you would meet a celebrity (aka Ryan Reynolds type). But now, with twitter and the like, I have people (bloggers) that are like celebrity status to me – because they resonante so well when I read them or see their photography. And when they reply back on twitter its kind of like this moment of ‘ohmygosh’… and then I have to bring myself back to the real world…

    I will tiptoe off the lawn now. And go drink more coffee. But can we come back to the lawn if we bring gluten-free goodies?

  7. 7
    Kelly March 7, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Mir, Hi, I read your blog, I love your blog. Just in case you get a friendship request from someone with a picture of a Charlie’s Angel, don’t be alarmed, it is probably not the real Jaclyn Smith. I will include a quick message, and I won’t be at all rejected if you don’t accept. Have a great day.

  8. 8
    JP March 7, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    …wait, but I’ve told you you’re pretty…aren’t we friends now? LOL!

    I agree, sometimes people get confused by the blurry line of “I feel like I know you” and “I know you”. We can relate to what you are writing about, but that is a small slice of your life we are relating to, not the whole person. Oh, and you are pretty!

  9. 9
    Sassy Apple March 7, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Love your blog, read it every day, relate to what you write on many levels…..but we’re not friends. Why?? My rule of thumb on FB is if I haven’t had drinks, a meal or a conversation with you lasting longer than 30 minutes in the last ten years, we are not friends. Totally agree with Ms. Deathwatch above.

  10. 10
    Pure Klass March 7, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    De-lurking just to agree with you about this.

    Is there a certain amount of irony in that? Is that an Alanis Morrissette use of the word irony?

  11. 11
    Midj March 7, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    I got a friend request this week from my sister’s husband’s father whom I have spoken to exactly once in the 20 or so years they’ve been together. “Uh…no… Or perhaps, Hell No! It’s just creepy! You have no idea about my life. Let’s keep it that way…!” It really just freaked me out. Yes, I’m an aunt to his grandchildren but beyond that… Nada.

    I speak about you to my family as my “Internet friend Mir” but realize, in my heart of hearts, that we are really Internet acquaintances who have similar mindsets and like to shop at Kohl’s… And you’re pretty and you’re hair looks nice and shiny this morning… :-)

  12. 12
    Lucinda March 7, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    @Lady Euphoria, that’s exactly it. “Friends” on facebook is a status thing. “Connections” would be a much more appropriate term. Because while I may truly have nearly 200 connections, I certainly don’t have that many friends.

    Due to Facebook there is now a whole new level to friendship–”Facebook friend”. I use that term frequently and people understand that means someone I sort of know about whom I often read on Facebook but we never see each other in real life.

  13. 13
    The Mommy Therapy March 7, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Completely agree. I get a ridiculouse number of friend requests on facbook as well and don’t understand why I would want to invite anyone into my life that I couldn’t remember encountering in real life, or in a meaningful virtual aspect of real life, even once.

    I like to think that there are a lot of people named Leslie Dadidakis and these people must all be confusing me with the one they actually know.

    (Ok, I think there are actually a sum total of 7 Dadidakis in all of the US, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.)

    I mean, we’re best friends though, right? I’ve never met you, but I read your posts every day and truly care about your emotions. Would you mind watching my three kids later today so I could go to a pilates class?

    (Also, one of my favorite things people do is assume that, despite their behavior fitting exactly into the description of something I am explicitly stating is annoying or bothersome in some way to me, they still assume I couldn’t possibly mean THEM.)

  14. 14
    Karate Mom March 7, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Hee hee! This is all so very true!
    If people were dogs, I’ve always said that I would be a big, overgrown, too-excited, waggy Old English Sheepdog, galumphing up to any and every person who shows the slightest kindness and rolling over at their feet, begging for attention. (This IS going somewhere, I promise!) That being said, I have to remind myself that people I “know” online have very busy lives outside their blogs and I don’t really KNOW them, I just know parts of them. So when I comment and there’s no response, it isn’t a slight against ME, it’s just life! (And when I DO get a response, I feel like I’ve gotten a note from a rock star!)
    As for Facebook, I tend to only friend people who I actually lay my eyes on on a regular basis.

  15. 15
    Brandi March 7, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Hey, I’d add you on facebook if I actually could figure out where the friend request button for your profile is ;) haha.

    However, I agree. I’m also slightly disturbed when my friend’s nieces/nephews/small siblings friend me. I can’t be old enough for them to be able to work the internet yet!

  16. 16
    JennyM March 7, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    This explains why I haven’t been on Facebook in months. Well, there are several reasons, but mainly, it’s that I’m going through some “stuff” and while I don’t mind my actual, real life, good friends knowing all about it, I don’t feel the need for my high-school boyfriend’s cousin that I met twice fifteen years ago to know all about it. And it seems a little disingenuous with respect to my family and actual friends (I’d say of the “casual friend” level up on the Mirjita Scale of Frienditude) to hang out on Facebook all “Lovely day today!” so…. I just don’t participate.

    But, I think, generally, people just don’t think. It always baffles me when people get all white-hot offended about some part of someone else’s life as portrayed by a blog. You don’t actually know the actual person, you know the blog-person. There may not be a lot of difference between the actual person and the blog-person, but unless you’ve spent significant time one-on-one with the actual person, whether that’s in real life or over email or through lengthy correspondence conducted by carrier pigeon or what-have-you, you can’t reasonably assume you know the actual person at all.

    When I come back from chasing these kids off my lawn, I will explain my theory that Facebook is just a giant, internet-wide high school reunion.

  17. 17
    Tenessa March 7, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    I don’t feel like everyone I meet or read online is my friend, but I may get a feel about whether that person could BE a friend. Then, I have met people online that I consider real friends. This process takes much more time than meeting someone in real life because so many people don’t put as much importance on virtual friends as they do in-person friends. Still, I’ve developed quite a community of people I, at the very least, respect and enjoy hearing their thoughts and feelings on things. And almost NONE of them are as famous as you or Joshilyn Jackson. :)

  18. 18
    Kristi March 7, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    And see? This I how I love someone I don’t even know! You speak the truth! And I’m pretty sure if I really knew you, I’d request that fb friendship.

  19. 19
    Javamom March 7, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Didn’t you hear? It’s a competition…the more fb friends you have the more popular you are! So make sure you friend EVERYONE and all of their friends too!! WHO CARES if you don’t know them, at least you are popular!!

    snark.

    Good post. Makes me laugh, this constant friend obsession.

    And now Mir, we are looking forward to a post about your adventure of friending Otto on facebook.

  20. 20
    Jamie March 7, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Funny and true. If we lived in the same city and were acquaintances, I hope we’d become friends because I like what I read! Of course, not in a stalkerish way.

  21. 21
    BethRD March 7, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    It could be that people are confused about whether they’re friending MIR THE MEDIA JUGGERNAUT or friending you the person. I read some bloggers who have Facebook pages for their blogs and they of course want as many people as possible to friend those pages because the whole point is publicity, no personal message required and no actual friendship is made or assumed. People may be confusing the etiquette of that kind of ‘friending’ with the etiquette of friending a person’s personal Facebook account, even if it’s one where the person friends fairly casually.

  22. 22
    Julie March 7, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Love this. I read here quite often and decided that this is the perfect post to comment on. Finally. If I comment a few more times perhaps we’ll move up to aquaintances . . . but I hate to rush these things. I am an absolute fan of your blog though and if I could “Like” it on Facebook I would.

  23. 23
    Karen R. March 7, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    I get those all the time on LinkedIn. Sometimes a search with reveal that the requester is involved in autism advocacy, and my name turned up when they did a general search. Occasionally it has been someone with a cure-oriented organization, so they have really missed the boat with me. :-)

    And I would totally send you a friend request on FaceBook, if only I could find you…

  24. 24
    alicia March 7, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    freaking love this post.

    And the mentioned reasons are the reasons I have never attempted to add you (or any blogger I read) as a friend on facebook. I feel like I know you personally through this blog…….but I feel like facebook is one of those things that is a little different. Plus, I never want to come across a a creepy stalker.

    You should think about a fan page on facebook. You could post all the pretty pictures of Licorice you wanted, and still control what you share (and not worry about what you are posting on your personal page). I totally just gave ass-vice that you didn’t ask for. Apparently I am bossy today.

    Anywho, as always, love your wonderful blog and your writing style. :)

  25. 25
    Mandee March 7, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I hate when I get a friend request from someone I obviously should know but have no recollection of whatsoever. I usually end up emailing my best friend from home and asking who in the world the person is; she tries to explain to me how I know them and I still don’t remember them. Makes me crazy.

    Almost as crazy as all the birthday wishes leaving out the comma before the person’s name.

  26. 26
    Stephanie O'Dea March 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Now I’m trying to make a ven diagram to figure out which category/categories I fall into…
    :-0

    xoox

  27. 27
    Liza March 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    I think you should Friend Otto on Facebook.

    And I may erect a tent on your lawn. Because that’s just the kind of stalker I am. Oh wait. I’m not a stalker. But if I lived near you, I might stalk you until we became Good Friends.

    BTW, your definition of Good Friends contains the perfect typo.

    I wish Facebook had another category. Acquaintances? People I Know? People I’ve Met? I’d take any of those.

  28. 28
    dad March 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I think I have more important, higher level stuff, to be confused about

    I think you should friend Otto.
    No details please. I’m old.

  29. 29
    Holly March 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I LOVE this post! It’s always awkward when one gets a facebook request from someone one doesn’t know or, and this is probably worse, someone one knows but doesn’t want to be facebook friends with! Ah. I’ve been teeter tottering on whether or know to get rid of it, because you’re right. It’s SO creepy!

  30. 30
    annette March 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    “But, we ARE REALLY friends, right? “, she says with tears welling up in here eyes(lol!)
    I don’t have time to stalk people. And, I don’t spend time, virtually or otherwise, wth people I don’t like:)

  31. 31
    Lady of Perpetual Chaos March 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    That’s such a relief to know you still think I’m pretty. *phew*
    Also? It totally bugs me when people are talking about their “friends” and you find out that they blog stalk them but don’t actually know them. Really? Don’t you know enough people in real life that you don’t need to make up imaginary friends?!

  32. 32
    Kim March 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    I’ve totally done the “Blogger emailed me! I’m special!” thing. It is a strange dynamic, this Internet-celebrity thing. And I agree with everything you’ve said about level of friendships.
    I will add, though, that I’ve “friended” quite a few people I only casually knew back in the day, and am now thoroughly enjoying getting to know them. So yeah, a giant high school reunion, but dang – some of those people are funny. For me, Facebook has become my tool for adult conversation during the day. It’s limited, but it’s enough to keep this stay at home extrovert with two small children sane(r.) Sending a request to someone whose blog I read, though – yeah, kinda weird, wouldn’t do it unless it was clearly a Woulda Coulda Shoulda page, not your personal one.

  33. 33
    crgilvr March 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    I’m kicking people off of my virtual lawn, too.

    The other day, a colleague at work said out loud (while staring at her iPhone), “I’m not friending my husband on Facebook, some parts of my life are PRIVATE.”

    I’m thinking, “Wha?” (Insert goggly eyes here).

  34. 34
    navhelowife March 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Very well said!
    the main thing I’m chasing off my lawn these days are the damn starlings. I think of them as the teenage hoodlums of the bird world.
    I’m one of those wary of imposing on others on FB – so while I would enjoy having you as a FB friend, I would never assume. I also laugh when the “you may also know’ comes up and it is a picture of someone I cannot STAND in real face to face interaction – WHY would I FB them?
    I also refuse to FB “Friend” my children’s friends pages for the most part.

  35. 35
    amy March 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Well said!!

  36. 36
    Mare Martell March 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Crap! I didn’t mean it like that. I just admire your writing and the way you explain situations in your life. Sometimes it strikes a chord with me and I share my thoughts. Sometimes you write back via email and we converse for two or three, but I know we’re not friends.

    Sorry.

  37. 37
    MomCat March 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    So true. And sometimes you FB ‘friend’ people you actually did know and then realize why it is you haven’t kept in touch. Thank goodness there’s a button for that.

    At the same time, thank goodness for FB, which is allowing us to reconnect with real friends we lost years before. (Today’s generation will have no excuse for losing track of a friend.)

  38. 38
    Karen March 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Personally, I am only Facebook friends with people I know. Maybe it is someone I just met once at a party and we hit it off and decided to be besties in a Martini-haze, but I actually know each person on my Facebook.

    That being said, I am not using the Internet to make money. My Facebook and my blog are my personal areas. And while I love for people to visit me and read my thoughts, I am not (and don’t want to be) a “Super Blogger”. I think if blogging was my job, I’d be friending everyone and his grandma to get the word out about my product so that my income increases. I get that even Super Famous Bloggers can have private lives, but if you want people to come to your blogs and support your projects, I’d think you’d have to
    do things like them be your Facebook friend.

  39. 39
    Jennifer Joyner March 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I think it’s easy to romanticize what people are like when you only know them from their blog. From my viewpoint, Mir is never too busy for me (she posts every day!), she’s never in a bad mood (well, not cranky at me, anyway!) and she never fails to make me laugh (and sometimes cry…but in a good way!). wait…we are totally BFFs, right? RIGHT?????

  40. 40
    Redneck Mommy March 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    At one point I was facebook friends with anyone who requested it. I wasn’t choosy and I used it as a tool for my blog. Then my kids got older and wanted to be on facebook and suddenly life got really complicated.

    I booted over 2000 people off my facebook page and felt like an arse doing it. But I didn’t want strangers having that type of access to my private life with my kids floating about on FB.

    I have a new rule now. If I haven’t (or wouldn’t) share with you my children’s real names or my married name, I won’t accept your friend request. I still feel a bit bad about that but my kids come first.

    However, I welcome everyone over at my facebook fan page for the blog. Because I’ve banished my kids from that page. Heh.

  41. 41
    Rachael March 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Mir, my day is complete, now that we’re on the same page.

  42. 42
    Flea March 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    My lawn is still brown. If you’re going to be tromping around on it, at least wear golf cleats, please.

  43. 43
    Jessica March 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Ugh, I know! I don’t have Facebook for this very reason. It seems that people who read your blogs (I used to have a blog where I regularly blogged) think that the blog is you, the whole you, and nothing but the you. (Okay, that sounds weird, but you get it.) I had to put a disclaimer on the blog that said something along the lines of “the items contained in this blog partially represent my thought process on the subject. Unless you are a close friend and/or family member, you will probably never get the whole story for every story, so please don’t assume you know me completely by what I blog ” (but more eloquently put…and quite less succinct, since I am prone to verbosity).

    I hate that people think they REALLY know you because they’ve read something you’ve written. I hate that people think that following a blog or your Facebook means they are “keeping up” with you, when real friends should have more interaction than that (and real friends, true enough, have more than likely seen you cry … not read about it on Facebook, assuming you write about your emotional breakdowns on Facebook, which I wouldn’t do). THANK YOU a million times over for giving me a post I can link to when I need to help someone figure out the difference between a friend and a “person I know from the internet, kinda, sorta”. (Bear in mind, that the latter can become the former. Heck, I met my husband through blogging, which is a long story, but “kinda, sorta internet casual acquaintances” can become more with time and effort to truly get to know one another.)

    With that, I will cut my verbosity short and go back into hiding. :D (But can I be one of your BAFs? You know, your Best Acquaintances Forever? ;) )

  44. 44
    Tracy B March 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Whew….glad you cleared that up. Now, I know where “we” stand in our relationship. ;o)

  45. 45
    Lori N March 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Ah yes, the complexity of friendship in an online world. I don’t make friends online — I make friends in real life and share hobbies with others online. My husband has actually managed to make some wonderful friendships with people he “met” first online & then met up with in real life at conferences and conventions — many of whom I have met & think are lovely & they have become my friends now as well. We use twitter to keep in touch because they all live hours away. :)

    But if we were to meet at some point I’d compliment you on your blog and then quickly walk away feeling like I’d just had a celebrity sighting. ;)

  46. 46
    Cath in Ottawa March 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    love this post. I refuse to join Linked In because of this, and am also souring on Facebook the more of these requests I get … ironically, I am increasingly feeling impolite by not having a blog since I enjoy so many of them (yours included)!

  47. 47
    Hollie March 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    I agree to a point. A lot of bloggers use FB to network and market themselves. They’ll accept everyone because it gets their name out there. This is likely where those unknown people are coming from – the idea that like others, your FB profile is just an extension of your blog, and not a place where you talk and connect to the real people in your life. In fact, I know several people in the “public eye” so to speak who have 2 FB profiles – one for their private life, and one for their fans. With this in mind, did you know you can hide yourself from public searches in FB? If you don’t like getting random friendship invites, then set yourself so that only friends can see you. If they can’t find you, they can’t try to friend you. This is how I have myself set up, which means I don’t get invites at all – I have to do the inviting. Which for me is perfectly acceptable.

    As for the LinkedIn invites… that is a weird one. Personally, I only invite people in LinkedIn that I have worked with in some capacity. I do connect with some friends, but they have to be really close friends whose job recommendations I would consider, or who work in my field. Strangers sending you LinkedIn connection requests either don’t understand the point of LInkedIn (not FB), or they’re overly hopeful bloggers looking for a way to market themselves.

    On the other hand, they could also be victims of the overly helpful LinkedIn “connection finder” which will parse everyone you’ve ever sent a single email to in the last 10 years, and “helpfully” send them invites for you. Very bad system, and meant to only troll for new LinkedIn subscribers, and not to help the customer in any meaningful way.

  48. 48
    Angela March 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    You are totally right, Mir. People don’t think, and I think social media somewhat aggravates that tendency. For me, FB is a pure waste of time; I don’t status update my feelings or what I’ve had for lunch. I’ve gotten friend requests from girls I used to be in Girl Scouts with, that I’ve known since kindergarten but haven’t talked to but once in the last 10 years, and they don’t even send a note with it. WTH? Don’t say HI WHATS UP, or ask how I am or anything. And then they STILL don’t actually talk to me! What’s the point? You’re making me want to delete people off my fb!

    I do have ONE friend from high school I talk to a few times a year who just moved to Japan with her Navy husband, and FB is good for seeing what she’s up to. Although, she was in town for 6 months before they moved to Japan and never attempted to get together with me, even though I invited her over twice (family included). Yeah, I have a hard enough time keeping up with my actual friends!

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    Little Bird March 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Funny, my group of facebook friends is largely made up of people that I met at a different blog. We all have similar type of humor, and roughly fall into the same demographic. Because we all “met” at one blog and moved to facebook, we have decided that it is necessary that we all try to meet each other in person. I’ve met one of them. And several of us talk on the phone.
    Now. The question is, are we actually friends?

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    Sharon March 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Great post! I don’t even HAVE a facebook. I’m freakily paranoid that way. I’f I did I’d defiantly be a fan, though. Lol @ Otto

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    Alix D March 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    We are not friends, but I love your writing, and my heart hurts for you when bad crap happens. Perhaps I have an excess of fellow feeling, whatever, but we are not now friends, no matter how super-fantastic I think you happen to be. Given career differences and geographic distances, it is statistically unlikely that we ever will be friends, That’s OKAY, and that’s what I think a lot of people miss.

    Although, on Facebook, you could probably creep in under the category of ‘family of my husband’ and I would never notice. That man has a *ridiculously* large extended family. It is entirely possible that there are internet stalkers who pretend to be “that member of his family that no one can quite remember” in order to read inane posts about restaurant attendance in Vincennes, IN and Cousin C’s 7th baby (also a girl! Just like the first 6! Yay?!)

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    Jan in Norman, OK March 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Amen, sister!

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    Karen March 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    LOL… what Alix D said. Ditto.

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    Mary Fran March 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    You mean I’m not best friends with Dooce/Heather Armstrong? Huh. It is funny though how lopsided it is. You share parts of your life with us and get almost nothing in return (except all the gobs of money you make doing this, right?) And because of that, I get the feeling I do know you. But so odd that it’s not reciprocated.

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    bonuela March 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    but, but, but i read your blog EVERYday and you even responded to a comment (once). i thought you loved me. i was going to ask you to be my maid of honor. ::sniff sniff::

    seriously, i have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of the musicians that i admire and my litmus test is, if they would send me a christmas or birthday card then we are friends, if they wouldn’t, then they are nice polite musicians who just happen to know my name.

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    Jane March 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Your descriptions of friends is excellent! After reading that, I realize that most people fall between good and casual friends. It kind of makes me want to take an assessment of the people in my life. Also, I’m glad to be your acquaintance, thanks.

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    Varda (SquashedMom) March 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    OK, I went to your fan page and drank the Kool-Aid.

    And I’m not a crazed stalker, really, I’m not. Well… I’m not a stalker at any rate… Jean/Stimey can vouch for me… well… maybe not… at BlogHer10 we ran into each other something like every 10 minutes, everywhere we went, there was the other, statistically improbable to be mere coincidence… we laughed and did that whole “Am I stalking you or are you stalking me?” jokey thing… but still, I wonder… ;-)

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    Debbi March 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    While I love love love Facebook, I am only accept friend requests from people I know and/or remember lol. Had a few people from High school who I can’t remember so I don’t accept it. I have to say that I have reconnected with some people that I vaguely knew in high school and now find out that we are very much a like. (and the same with the reverse, some of my “good” friends from high school I haven’t talked to at all since we friended each other). All I ask of people..be yourself! Don’t try to make me like you, don’t say things you think I want to hear…just be YOU. :-)

    And I am sooo happy that you have a FB page! LOL

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    maggie March 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    My rule of thumb for Facebook: would I accept a lunch invitation from the potential friend? If so, then I’ll ‘friend’ you. For LinkedIn, it’s more like: have I never rolled my eyes at something you’ve said in a meeting or an e-mail? If so, you’re in. Needless to say, I don’t have FB friends or ‘links’ numbering in the thousands.

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    Debra March 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    I completely agree with you on the Facebook friends. I don’t accept friend requests from people I have not met in person. A few exceptions are professional colleagues that I’ve emailed back and forth with and some dance associates that I can learn things from :)

    If I knew you had goofy dog pics of Licorice I would have sent you a friends request ages ago!

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    RidgewoodMom March 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Third time poster, long time reader… Two year blogger. I love this post. I even have levels of friendship on facebook. Those long lost high school friends that let’s be frank, I wasn’t friends with you in high school, haven’t spoken to you in over 10 years, I am not sure I want you knowing the ins and outs of my life (LIMITED PROFILE, that is IF I accept the friend request). They seen nothing except the new great stalker feature of the 5 pictures at the top of the profile (which are carefully chosen). To be honest I have used that picture bar to stalk old boyfriends and several high school and college frenemies. Then I have the short list of possibly 20 to 30 people who I speak with on a weekly or monthly basis (life gets in the way), who already know all there is going on, but just with a little more wit and links to funny stories. And I do a spring cleaning of “friends” every few months. But it has been good to connect withe people I’ve lost touch with, and to be honest if I can’t see my close friends as often as I like, I probably will not pick up the phone to call or open an email to write. I can check facebook and see what you are up to. LinkedIn is strictly business and no cutesy stuff.

    Anyway, great post! Really made me laugh!

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    Lara March 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    http://Www…wait! We’re not friends??? LOL It seems boundaries are out of vogue, much like manners these days. I think your FB friending criteria is quite generous which means I won’t have to stalk too hard to get in ;)

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    Jules March 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    what? you have a dog? :D

    I love you!

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    aem2 March 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    I so agree. I try to limit my FB friends to actual friends. I do social swing dancing and get friend requests from people in the scene who I know only slightly. May I add to your list that if I haven’t had an actual conversation with you in real life (“Thank you for the dance” doesn’t count) and I don’t recognize your name and your profile picture is of a CHIPMUNK? Yer not gettin’ friended.

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    addy March 7, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    So, friend Otto – spare the old guy “dad” he calls himself the details – and go with your definitions…make sense to me. But, who am I to judge??

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    Veronica March 8, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    I tend to think of my of my Facebook friends as “connections”. We’re connected in various ways (highschool, my blog, etc) but we’re not actually friends. Blogging does blur the lines though.

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    Anna March 8, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Sad story of the day: One of my bridesmaids has spoken about ten words to me since my wedding ten years ago. Yet she loves to send forwards by e-mail and game requests on facebook. Yet, I think that’s less of a problem with the social media, and my choice of friends at the time. ;)

    Nice to acquaintance you, pretty Mir.

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    Heather March 8, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    I use the word-that-is-not-a-word, “BlogFriend” sometimes, because there isn’t quite a way to explain the connection of having “known” someone for a few years via their blog and a few random chats, especially when it’s the sort of “friends” that I’ve never met! It’s interesting when you write a fairly emotionally open blog like yours, and share about your lovely children, that over the years I think many of us readers have warm feelings for you all and it seems funny to care a good deal about people 3000 miles away! So BlogFriends is usually what I go with, even though I always end up having to explain anyway ;-)
    I’d be interested, actually, to see how/if feelings are reciprocated. Of the blogs I comment on with at least some regularity, yours seems more real because of a) your aforementioned emotional honesty, and b) the fact that you sometimes reply and are able to because you don’t have 15,000 comments like some *coughPioneerWomancough* blogs haha. Of course, I also haven’t been reading Ree’s blog nearly as long as yours! (I also don’t comment on hers usually unless it’s a contest, because I am shallow, or something…or just less invested :P )

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    Heather March 8, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    (By the way, the “interested” in “reciprocated feelings” was NOT actually me saying, please please love me, because, um, creepy! It was just sort of a random musing, like, I wonder which bloggers have any idea who I am heh. I know you are aware of me, and think we fall somewhere in “Friendly acquaintances” except for the whole “never having met” factor!)

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    mamaspeak March 8, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    Yes, what you said.
    Wait. I thought I was special bc you friended me. Damit! ;-)

    I actually use FB for people I know, and blog/twitter for those I don’t. It seems, at least based on the comments here, I seem to have gotten it backward. Opps! I use real names & post my kids pix on FB. I use the Family O’Speak on the web. I know I don’t live in a vacuum, but I try to keep my privacy settings somewhat tight on FB and use code everywhere else. So, the fact that you know my kids names, is kinda a big deal in my book. However, that decision was made after reading your blogs for several years & sharing an occasional email. I feel, that if we did live nearby, we would be part of the same tribe & I would trust you w/my kids, most likely. That’s kinda a big deal in my book. It has a lot to do w/what you don’t say on here, especially in relation to your kids.
    The thing I hate is that I have nephews & nieces “friending” me on FB now. Gah! It’s as bad as my parents! I don’t want to not friend them; I hope I’m the cool Aunt they can come to when they need something (and won’t go to their parents). But, I also don’t want to have to censor myself bc younger kids are watching. (Course, maybe bc I don’t censor myself, it’s why I’m the cool Aunt? I’ll keep telling myself that.) SNL did a skit once about an app that changed your status when your mom was looking at it. I need THAT.

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    Brigitte March 8, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    Aw, gee, I thought I was your bestest buddy ever. ;-)

    Actually, almost all of my friendships fall more under the “casual friends” category, except that we can and do turn to each other for help in emergencies.

    I do find quite distressing the trend to call every casual acquaintance a “BFF”, nobody even seems to know what it MEANS anymore. It’s starting to irk me as much as people who say “literally” without knowing what it means. :-o

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    Sheppitsgal March 8, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    I believe I DID say I was a stalker when I friend-requested you (not deranged though!).

    Anyway, you accepted, and all is well with the world.

    Facebook is made for photos of small dogs :) x

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    Lisa March 8, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    We’ve been FB friends for a while, and yesterday I “liked” your blog over there yesterday, so that makes us besties, right? ;)
    With FB I pretty much take all comers, if I actually know who they are–and that includes people I’ve known “online” for awhile. My son is at an age where his peers are starting to do FB, so quite a few of his old classmates are my friends. I figure it’s not a bad idea to see what kinds of things the kids are posting about. I post a G/PG version of myself when I update my status, knowing that the kids are reading. And I figure that’s a good way to do things on FB in general.

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    Erika March 8, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I am so introverted in real life, I really honestly have no friends. My husband is always trying to get me to talk to other mothers in the neighborhood, etc. but I am SO BAD at initiating these things, I always think I will look like an over-eager ass so I stay aloof and end up looking like a bitch. Online, I can comment on blogs and feel some level of personal interaction without having the issues that IRL interaction gives me. I do not even HAVE a FaceBook. I guess I am more comfortable with the at-arm’s-length interaction of the internet. But long story short, no, I do not consider the bloggers of whom I am a fan to be my friends – more like celebrities.

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    KarenP March 8, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    All my facebook friends are people I know personally. My son ,the musician, has over 3500 friends on facebook. His mistake, in my mind, was not having a private facebook page along with the public one. I have had people request that I make them my friend only because I am his mother!

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    s March 9, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    ok, I’m laughing because my daughter makes me feel like a total dork when I’m on FB and she says “mom, you have NO friends, Jenny Johnson’s mom, Mrs. McFriendlypants, has 350 friends”. And I say, well I don’t have a lot of friends on FB because I actually only friend people I’m interested in sharing with, not some random person I knew in high school she doesn’t get it. but, I’m cool with the fact that I have few friends, but they are REAL friends (although I’m very hurt since we have emailed and I thought we were BFFS and all…hahahahaha)

    I totally agree with your categories. I am likely just socially awkward, but I really do find it odd when someone I consider an acquaintance, likely due to forced interaction via school or the kid activities, and they are all huggie and oh its so great to see you when I know they really could give a rat’s behind and all. I’m not fake. Yeah, that likely makes me cold, but I like to think I’m just real. This of course means my kids aren’t invited to all the bday events and I’m not invited to parties and such, but since I’m more a homebody (or can be found driving my kids to their activities on a Fri/Sat pm vs being out having a glass of wine with someone) I’m really good with it and all!

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