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I Have Friends But I Really Don't Want To Get Friended

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chihuahua defending SUV, Santa Monica

I hate Facebook and all the other social networking sites. If I like you, we'll have a glass of wine together. Otherwise, I'd really rather not do any more typing than I'm already doing. (It's Tuesday-into-Wednesday as I'm writing this, and I left the house for the first time today since Friday.)

So...a PR person I have never met (not that I recall, anyway), but whose "friend" request I yessed/confirmed on Facebook, really just to be nice, e-mailed me through Facebook. (Another active e-mail address for me now? What fresh hell is this?) Beyond that, her e-mail's not unfriendly or anything, but it is the kind of waste-of-time message I just hate, and from somebody I don't know at all:

Dear Amy,
how is your column going?
I hope you have an continued increased audience .
Cordially,

I mean, how does one answer her question? Certainly not sincerely, since she doesn't know me, and likely doesn't actually care. And really, if you know me at all, or want to get to know me, say something interesting and we might have something to talk about. Don't send me the e-mail equivalent of wallpaper.

I took the frank approach -- as opposed to opening myself up to further such e-mail exchanges:

Amy Alkon
4:06pm November 11th
Thanks, and no offense, but I don't have time for facebook email exchanges, and as somebody who gets e-mail for a living I really try to dissuade people from writing to me unless there's an emergency. Hope you understand. In general, I despise these social networking sites, and only participate so people won't be offended. If you'd like to comment on my blog, advicegoddess.com, where I focus my time, feel free. Best,-A

It turns out she'd sent me another email (arrrgh!), which I opened next:

this is (name removed) from xx newswire service. I contacted you a while back about doing a column on the (Amy: guy I have zero interest in) and then added you as a featured columnist on my page.
Cordially,

I wrote back:

Amy Alkon
4:07pm November 11th
Thanks!

I just signed on and found this from her:

7:22am November 12th
you have been removed.
I wrote back:
Amy Alkon
Today at 1:35am
I guess it's hard to understand that I might get e-mail for a living and not really be into getting more in another area. Even from a PR person.

Well, while I don't like to hurt people's feelings, this person was never my friend, and now she's still not my friend, but, perplexingly, seems to be my unfriend. On the bright side, maybe I'll have 10 more minutes of life per month to spend unchained from the computer.

Posted by aalkon at November 15, 2007 1:37 PM

Comments

You are on-point with this. Besides, wtf, if she is PR how about a little more detail than "how's it going". What a lame bogus bitch not worth your time.

Posted by: kbling at November 15, 2007 7:06 AM

There's an implicit social contract in approaching an apparent stranger that is short-circuited on the internet.

Not internet-related: When the alternative is no interaction, I prefer to risk politely entering a stranger's "zone" to get what I want and counting on said stranger to be open-minded. Example: several years ago I interviewed with several potential coworkers, one of whom would have worked for me. After the first round I sent him a thank you letter with a familiar, not formal, tone (a reference to his political aspirations). During the second interview he told me he was surprised at the tone I had used. My reasoning was that if we were soon to be working together, there was nothing wrong with starting to build a relationship. Thankfully, for other reasons, I didn't get the job. The HR manager had a sign on the wall saying "2nd Place is the First Loser".

I wouldn't approach a stranger in a parking lot and say "I have no car. May I borrow yours?"

Posted by: DaveG at November 15, 2007 7:26 AM

I don't love Facebook, but it isn't totally the devil. I feel it's an artificial and hollow stand-in for real friendships. I ignore friend requests from random people I don't know from states I will never visit. I don't see any benefit in exchanging messages with strangers or having just-one-more picture on my friends page. I have my friends, family and a boyfriend - it's hard enough to see those people, people I care about and, like, hang out with. Face to face. In the flesh.

Sometimes, no way, all the time, people feel self conscious about their "number." Not the number of people they've fucked. The number of "friends" they have on these sites. I have 109 friends and it kinda makes me a loser. It's the Facebook equivalent of penis envy. You know what they say about men who drive Corvette's (sorry, babe, it's not my fault you bought a car that has so many stereotypes attached to it!)...well, what some people say about men in fast sports cars I think about people who have over 500 friends.

Facebook can provide some silly fun and is a good way to not totally forget about So and So who you sat next to in Soph year Chem in high school. I may not care about them deeply but I am interested in following the development of past school mates (okay I'm a little nosy).

At any rate, this makes me really want to friend you but I won't for fear of being REJECTED by my favorite advice/blog goddess :-)

Posted by: Gretchen at November 15, 2007 7:44 AM

I like facebook. The minifeed makes me feel like God.

I just look at it as a big, giant, address book that my friends maintain FOR me...if I want to get in touch with someone, I visit their facebook page and immediately have 2 current e-mails, their SN, and sometimes a phone # and address to go on.

I know what you mean, Gretchen. For many people, facebook is an opportunity to collect "friends" like baseball cards. Oh, and there's the temptation to see what your ex's new GF looks like and then force your real friends to spend hours clicking through pics of them together to determine that she does, in fact, have more arm-fat than you do. Ugly bitch.

That said, I ignore all friend requests from people I don't know--that sh*t's for Myspace.

Posted by: sofar at November 15, 2007 8:25 AM

> I feel it's an artificial
> and hollow stand-in for real
> friendships.

Some of us love the internet for that!

It's hard to get enthusiastic about social networking software, but it's tough to get enthusiastic about social networking. A bunch of friends demanded that I get a Facebook page so did, but the point is lost. I only hear from people through it when they send an email for confirmation... So what advantage does this have over the internet itself? As long as you're expected to have brand loyalty (Facebook vs. Myspace etc), you'll be limiting your connections, so I don't see the point.

The great thing about getting old is that sometimes you can avoid trends like this by pretending to be --or by really being-- out of touch with today's rockin' youth culture.

Posted by: Crid at November 15, 2007 9:01 AM

"That said, I ignore all friend requests from people I don't know--that sh*t's for Myspace."

Hah! You hit on a very good point in differentiating MySpace and Facebook.

Facebook is semi-legit, or at least it used to when you needed a .edu (meaning, employers couldn't spy on your ass. Now we have to set our shit on private.). MySpace is for stalkers. For people with STDs. For people who want to indulge the shady side of their personality. On MySpace I only know maybe 20% of my "friends," on Facebook, I've interacted in person w/ everyone. Big difference. MySpace is for sketchballs who want to meet you in a dark alley way.

"Ugly bitch." Damn she's nasty (she's actually hot but denial is a fine art to be mastered). Been there, do that.

"Some of us love the internet for that!" I'll concede to that. I guess that's were the mastery of denial comes in handy once again while we lie to ourselves that our interactions on Facebook actually means something.

Posted by: Gretchen at November 15, 2007 9:57 AM

Facebook helps me set up Frisbee games with my collegemates. It also works real well for broadcasting parties in a pseudo discreet manner. In fact, it should be a tool that facilitates real interaction between friends, like a phone, or email, or snail mail. The idea being that it can do certain things more efficiently.

Amy's encounter is possibly the WORST usage of Facebook.

Posted by: Scott at November 15, 2007 1:17 PM

I too used to dismiss MySpace as a waste of time...but I must say, after some convincing by some friends, I put together a MySpace page.

I've been pleasantly surprised to get back into contact with all kinds of friends I haven't seen in years!

Most of the people I went to grade and high school with eventually moved away from Hawaii to the US Mainland, so there are plenty of people that I've always wondered about what happened to them, but never knew how to get into casual contact with them.

MySpace fit this need perfectly! It's great to just have a little email note updating on what they do now, and looking at their pages to see their photos of their families and hobbies and such!

I mean, none of these folks were my "best" friends who I still keep in touch with regularly - but they were still people I do care about and have fond memories of, and have some interest in occasional contact.

What's wrong with that?

Oh yeah, on my MySpace page, I say "If I haven't met you in real life, I'm NOT going to add you as one of my "friends."

Needless to say, I get a kick out of people that look down on things like MySpace...I was once one of them. Experience has shown me otherwise. Like anything else, you get what you put into it.

Posted by: Dave from Hawaii at November 15, 2007 3:46 PM

Scott, that's probably true, and Amy didn't suffer any actual broken bones, but isn't what happened bad enough? This PR woman's teenaged eagerness to pretend to be friends blew up in her face because she was dealing with an actual businesswoman who understands that there's more to having a contact than a tidy rolodex card... Time and purpose are worth something too. The PR woman got the exact opposite result than she wanted from her mechanized appeal to an established talent.

3½ hours ago I got an email from a friend of longtime personal closeness asking that I join her in the digital paradise of the LinkIn® network alliance. This blog post gave me the strength to tell her to get lost (but to telephone when she's in the mood for dinner or Starbucks or a movie).

I'm a freelancer, and in the last month especially (even in the last week) I've had a number of random encounters with people I'd not been in touch with for long time, meetings that have actually done a lot for my income. So even as an anti-social creep, I recognize that you gotta put it out there, and that you never know who you know.

But any social network built on a portal with a brand name is operating --as the computer scientists say-- at inappropriate granularity. There's one Crid in the world doing my kinda work. How many separate passwords and accounts need to be set up so that people can reach me? And why should others be enriched in this process? (I wish I had held some stock in Facebook, but still....)

If anybody wants my email address, speak up.

Posted by: Crid at November 15, 2007 3:54 PM

I have myadvicegoddessspace, also known as advicegoddess.com.

I'm very findable, and real friends always manage. Phone, e-mail, US postal service.

"This blog post gave me the strength to tell her to get lost (but to telephone when she's in the mood for dinner or Starbucks or a movie)."

Thanks, Crid, for telling me that!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 15, 2007 4:18 PM

The woman wrote back and said I started it all by inviting her into Friendster in 1974 or whenever

Posted by: Crid at November 15, 2007 6:25 PM

Amen to rejecting Facebook time.

Recently my 14 year old daughter was negotiating permission for a Facebook account. I said one of my terms was that I could look at her page whenever I asked to see it. My 18 year old daughter said, "Why don't you just get on Facebook then you can be her friend and see it whenever." I said, "Because I don't want to be her 'friend,' I want to be her 'mother.'"

Hmm, could be a whole new Facebook category. Instead of a poke, I could send her a 'make your bed' or 'change your photo, I can see too much cleavage.'

(P.S. Love your blog-- came to it via Nancy Rommelman.)

Posted by: Amy at November 16, 2007 4:25 AM

I'll admit, I have a facebook and a myspace account. However, it's not for stalking or for meeting people in dark alleys. I could indulge in either quite easily without their help, thanks.
I wouldn't have created either account if not for my website/videos. I just thought it'd be a handy way to share the videos I've made. Actually, it has increased my audience a bit, and I periodically get requests for science "advice" as well. Another added bonus is that - through myspace music - I've found some rather interesting new bands to listen to. A number of which had graciously permitted me to use their music in my videos as well.

Of course, my 14-year old is a MySpace addict. I keep careful tabs of her internet activity, so no dark alleys for her, either.

Posted by: Jamie at November 16, 2007 7:09 AM

"Because I don't want to be her 'friend,' I want to be her 'mother.'"

Great, just great. More mothers should be that way.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 8:01 AM

I was asked to get a facebook account for work, to research what applications do and don't work on it. Because facebook is huge and has an API, silicon valley types are going apeshit over it. I now have a bunch of friends on it and all. Yay. But I still don't see what it is good for.

One humorous thing, though. Facebook has a "Super-poke" deal which permits one to virtually defenestrate someone. Defenestrate is one of my favorite words.

Posted by: justin case at November 16, 2007 9:58 AM

You too, huh?

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 10:46 AM

Our very own visiting dignitary, Paul Hrrissssskop...well, you get the idea.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 10:59 AM

Shit. And I have an iPhone, too!

Posted by: justin case at November 16, 2007 11:19 AM

In early 1993, on a local bulletin board system, I passed up an opportunity to use the word "defenestrate" in context, and have been kicking myself ever since.

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 12:24 PM

Defenestrate.

"The word evidently raised me in its respect; and indeed it is a large, good word and will bear repetition."

Virtual cookie to whomever gets the quote I misappropriated.

Posted by: Jamie at November 16, 2007 1:33 PM

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