30 April 2008

On Friend Requests

I'm a participant in a completely ridiculous number of social networking websites, fan forums, and various other places that *ahem* need my commentary. Obviously.

MySpace and Facebook are the tips of the iceberg. MySpace is where I geek out over fandom; Facebook I joined because my Swedish family all belongs, and thus I can much more easily keep tabs on them by being a member myself. Here's an unintended consequence of that; I have friend requests on both sites from people that a) I don't know b) I don't remember or c) I never liked. What to do about this? Thus far, I've simply ignored the requests, and that will remain my course of action for the foreseeable future.

It seems both odd and incongruous, to me, anyway, to request a friending by someone you were never friends with in the real world, or that you come across their name and say, "Dude. I oughta friend them." Maybe that's because I remember a world before teh interweb; maybe it is because I am more sane and normal than I think I am.

Online friends is one thing; I've got a passel of 'em from fandom that I've never met in real life, but we share a common ground. (Mainly a rabid fascination with a television show, but hey, we're normal. What? We are!) The people that I know in the world inside the computer obviously were strangers at one point, so my argument here is mostly self-defeating, but....

I'm not doing a great job of explaining the problem.

In clear, simple language, then, here it is. I have a friend request on one site from someone that I know attended the same high school as I did. We were not in the same graduating class. We never once, in the 10 years I attended that school system, had a class together. We weren't friends. That's harsh, but it is true. We aren't friends. I vaguely recognized the name, but know nothing else about this person, and truthfully, I don't care to. High school was two years of absolute hell for me, and mostly, I don't look back on my time in high school with fond memories. Times when we weren't actually IN the school building are another story, I have great memories of huge amounts of silly teen-aged things we did. Phrases that mean nothing to anyone else ("It was a six-foot chicken, officer!') reduce me to laughing so hard I'm gasping for breath. School itself, however, is an experience that you could not pay me to repeat. Ever. So why the living hell would I want to re-hash any of that with someone who went to the same school district, and that I was never friends with? Answer: I would rather not, if it is all the same to you, thanks.

One of the other odd friend requests is from someone who shares DH's last name, but when I showed him the profile and the picture, this wasn't someone he is related to, even in the very distant second-cousin-twice-removed kind of way. This person lives in a state roughly a thousand miles from my own, and we have no friends in common. Sorry, but I sure as hell ain't gonna click the "friend me" button when I don't know who in the world you are.

A third one is from someone that I exchanged e-mails with, two years ago, when I was running the non-profit. We're talking about maybe 4 e-mails. And then I never heard from them again. So we should be friends....why, exactly? I can't come up with anything.

All of this really makes me sound as if I'm quite the self-centered bitch. I can live with that label, if that's the appellation I'm stuck with for this attitude. But I really don't think I am. If these were friend requests from people that I was friends with once upon a time, awesome. If they're folks that I've lost touch with over the years and always wondered where they ended up, cool. Old pen pals? That would be really neat, I had one pen pal who was from Scotland and another from the Midlands in England. I'd love to hear from either of them. Someone that I run into at the store who I've known my whole life who mentions that they blog? Sweet! Random people who recognize my real name, or just like Lucy's profile picture? Not so much. That sorta weirds me out, quite truthfully.

My attitude about all of this changes 180 degrees when we're talking about bands, authors, or other celebrities who have chosen to put themselves on these sites and grant admirers access to their private lives. But that's a story for another day.

Clicking the buttons on any of the sites that say 'decline' seem unduly rude, and thus I've chosen the do-nothing course of action.

Women are socialized to "be nice." We're told, "Nice girls don't do that. Nice girls share. Nice girls blah, blah, blah, blah." When I first entered the professional workforce, at the ripe old age of.....um, I think I was 21 when I went to work for Ye Olde Evile Bank...I came across a book called Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business. It completely changed the way I thought about acting in the workplace, and how to get noticed and get advanced in the business world. Unfortunately, you have to be 'one of the guys' to get along. I didn't say that I made up the rules, or that I liked them. I just understand that you need to follow them. The author, Pat Heim, talked about how no one tells the boys growing up to "be nice" nor does anyone tell the boys that they need to go along to get along.

So I wonder: if I was male, would I have clicked the "decline" button long since and forgotten about this?


MotherMe who knows a thing or two about the opposite sex (just not useful stuff) said...

Silly Lucy. If you were male, you'd have clicked "FRIEND ME!!!" on the totally unrealistic but one-can-still-hope chance that this person wanted to have sex with you.


Lucy Arin said...

LOL, *DUH* WTF was I thinking? You're so right!