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Asymmetrical friendship: The pressure to be positive on social-networking sites
October 27, 2009 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Asymmetrical friendship: Tired of the relentless positivity of social-networking sites, where, as on Facebook, all you can be is a “friend” of someone? Greg Smith responds to a journal article that addressed the topic, among others; Smith calls for “asymmetrical friendship – this is cynicism put to good use.” Because there are times when somebody “friends” you on Facebook when what you think of them is more along the lines of “enemy combatant.”

Flickr may have gotten this right, or less wrong: Everyone is a “contact,” but may also be “friend” or “family.” XFN, which MetaFilter uses to set up relationships among contacts, explicitly rejected negative or enemy connotations, something Jeremy Keith et al. rectified with XEN.
posted by joeclark (63 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I keep my friends close and my enemies as friends on Facebook.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:29 AM on October 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Lately Facebook has taken to "reminding" me to harass people with whom I am nominally "friends" but with whom I've never had a Facebook encounter. It's really creepy and unpleasant.
posted by blucevalo at 11:32 AM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who's Greg Smith, and why should I care what he thinks about a social-sciences buzzword-laden article in a journal I've never heard of?

I'm not saying I *don't* think it's interesting, but I'd like some more background.
posted by Fraxas at 11:32 AM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's always "sweetheart" in sarcastiquotes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 AM on October 27, 2009


This is why God Tim Berners-Lee gave us links, Fraxas.
posted by joeclark at 11:34 AM on October 27, 2009


MetaFilter uses to set up relationships among contacts, explicitly rejected negative or enemy connotations

Depends how you interpret them, maybe.
posted by juv3nal at 11:38 AM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Greg Smith responds to pastes lengthy quotations from and contributes roughly 20 words of incoherent commentary about a journal article
posted by brain_drain at 11:40 AM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe so, Brain_Drain. But Smith is the one who came up with the winning neologism “asymmetrical friendship.”
posted by joeclark at 11:41 AM on October 27, 2009


So, how would you classify hostile spousing? :p
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:41 AM on October 27, 2009


Lately Facebook has taken to "reminding" me to harass people with whom I am nominally "friends" but with whom I've never had a Facebook encounter. It's really creepy and unpleasant.

This is particularly awful when you are reminded to "reconnect" with someone who is dead.
posted by Damn That Television at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I know it's caused problems on Livejournal where "friend" is an asymmetric relationship. When you friend somebody they show up on your reading list and they're allowed to read your friendslocked posts. But no reciprocal relationship exists unless they also friend you. And there is always wank, so much wank, when people get freaked out by their "friend of"s. Apparently people will dislike somebody so much that they can't even stand the thought of them listing you as a friend. Part of the problem is the loaded terminology of "friend".

Dreamwidth has made it a bit better by using four different designations: subscribers (people you read), subscriptions (people who read you), gives access to, has access from.
posted by kmz at 11:45 AM on October 27, 2009


So, how would you classify hostile spousing? :p

Don't ask, don't tell.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:55 AM on October 27, 2009


This is particularly awful when you are reminded to "reconnect" with someone who is dead.

posted by Grangousier at 11:59 AM on October 27, 2009


Metafilter's very own Greg Smith, no less.
posted by gregjones at 11:59 AM on October 27, 2009


I have friends?
posted by poppo at 12:00 PM on October 27, 2009


Where is the enemy? Not on Facebook, where you can only have 'friends'. What Web 2.0 lacks is the technique of antagonistic linkage. Instead, we are confronted with the Tyranny of Positive Energy.

Dear god Greg Smith, get a semantic grip. The "tyranny of positive energy" is just a way to try and keep The Drama down on FB. It's annoying enough when you get a notice that "Betty went from being in a relationship to being single". If I had to deal with people who went from friends to enemies and back again a bajillion times? Nothankyou.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:05 PM on October 27, 2009


Greg Smith responds to pastes lengthy quotations from and contributes roughly 20 words of incoherent commentary about an incoherent journal article.

"The business-minded 'trust doctrine' has all but eliminated the open, dirty internet forums."

"once the latest widgets are installed, it is time to move on"

"But whatever your identify might be, it will always be harvested."

What? There are some genuinely interesting ideas in there somewhere, but I found it poorly written. I'm guessing English is a third language here.

"If you must participate in the accumulation economy for those in control of the data mines, then the least you can do is Fake Your Persona."

How naive. Like we don't?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2009


So when are we switching to XEN, mods? I DEMAND A NEMESIS!
posted by cimbrog at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2009


Some of my best friends are asymmetrical. In Canada.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:10 PM on October 27, 2009


Thus far, I have avoided getting a Facebook account for both privacy and drama issues, and I don't see that changing. A recent, ah, non-date finished with my companion, slightly inebriated, going on for about an hour about all kinds of Facebook drama. Then one of my close friends contacted a friend of his who mysteriously severed all ties with him, several years back, and was stuck with angst at the lack of explanation. As far as I can tell, Facebook sounds like being trapped in high school, online, forever.
posted by adipocere at 12:11 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a handful of people on Facebook who have friended me, despite having vaguely hostile real-world relationships with. Their friend requests sit in my inbox, not responded to, helping to keep that vague hostility alive and fresh every time they (or I) log into their account.

So the system works as-is, I think; it's like a digital equivalent of a smile that doesn't go up to your eyes.
posted by davejay at 12:14 PM on October 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


23skidoo: I believe that the journal the quote is from isn't by Greg Smith, the response is, in which he says it's "completely cranky". I have to agree.

It smacks of Marxist triumphalism. If social networks bring people closer together, why hasn't the revolution started? I'd have little use for people pinging me on facebook or twitter to "effect political change". They're the same as any spammer. While I somewhat agree that the personal is political, people use that hoary phrase to repeatedly transgress social boundaries in all sorts of online areas, Metafilter included.
posted by zabuni at 12:17 PM on October 27, 2009


What I find a bit creepy is people who say that they are "facebook friends" with someone but they wouldn't spend time in real life with them. Why let someone have access to your personal photos and updates then? Stupid.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:17 PM on October 27, 2009


I think I've said it before around here, but I really hate the usage of the term 'friend' for social networking-- this is something that first annoyed me with LiveJournal (back when I did that); there were some people who would consistently post interesting things whom I'd never met in real life, and I liked to read what they wrote: therefore they were on my 'Friends Page.' Then some of my favorite people IRL would update several times a day about what they wanted to have for breakfast, what they adorable puppy was doing now, etc., and I didn't want to read it, and thus I defriended people whom I love. I realize that social networking doesn't actually matter, but the pressures inherent in referring to contacts as 'friends' by default have clearly not been thought through.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:18 PM on October 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dude needs to Friend it and move on.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 12:23 PM on October 27, 2009


(not you, Shakespeherian, the dude who wrote the response to the journal article)
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2009


Facebook jumped the shark for me when they changed their home page format so that you can't filter out all the annoying bullshit people do without either banning each individual application (and they're all individual applications) or blocking certain people entirely. So while this is vaguely interesting, I've finding a lack of applicability to anything directly in my life, and the main article is too confusing to bother with anyway.
posted by Caduceus at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2009


Your "friends" == your audience.

That's all. People get way too stuck on the word "friend." You don't have to be friends with someone to consider them a legit part of your potential audience. That's all it means on Facebook.
posted by rusty at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Don't some livejournal communities declare "Defriend amnesty day", where you can say, "People! Un-friend me for any reason! I won't be upset because it's amnesty day!"

Really, that's when I decided that, at least on LJ, the whole "friend" thing is taken way too seriously.
posted by muddgirl at 12:27 PM on October 27, 2009


rusty: Your "friends" == your audience.

That's all. People get way too stuck on the word "friend." You don't have to be friends with someone to consider them a legit part of your potential audience. That's all it means on Facebook.


I don't think that's the long and short of it. I have a Facebook account and I hardly ever do anything with it-- no status updates, no political screeds, no Pirate vs. Ninja vs. Amish games, etc. I visit my Facebook home page several times a day, however, to see what other people are doing and thinking and reading. If they're my audience, IR DOIN IT WRONG
posted by shakespeherian at 12:32 PM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


People get way too stuck on the word "friend."

Quoted for truth. There are people I have barely seen since high school whom I do not pal around with or call weekly to catch up, but I don't mind seeing a picture of their wedding or hearing they have moved back after seven years abroad. Or beating their asses at online Scrabble.

Schopenhauer observed that, "Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection. " I don't mind the occasional tiny resurrection.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:34 PM on October 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


It isn't merely the choice of the word friend, it's that FriendFacebook can cover both real life people whom you consider friends and those people for whom you have no little positive, or even some negative, attachment, but you would like to share their data, for reasons which may have to do with career networking or ... whatever.

I'd rather not conflate the two, because not only does it irritate me to Newspeak out that someone is a friend who isn't a friend, I don't even want them to get that idea.
posted by adipocere at 12:41 PM on October 27, 2009


I think it's the way that social-networking sites make your relationships public that enforces conformist positivity. Even if you could choose negative types of relationships, no-one would do it (except maybe ironically) for fear of the dreaded label "negative person".

The inappropriateness of the word "friend" is exactly what makes it possible for me to have an enemy. Officially, everyone I am connected to on Facebook is my "friend", which fulfills the social obligation to always be positive. But we all know this can't be true, which opens up space for other types of relationships that are "officially" disapproved of but are tacitly allowed to exist.

The truly authoritarian form of control would be when you are given the option to choose something, but other implicit prohibitions prevent from from actually doing it. This is more like Stalinist control: officially, you are given the option (to criticize the government or something), but we all know what happens when you actually do.

By not giving you a choice, Facebook actually gives you more choice about the nature of the relationship. The Stalinist control is that you can't turn down a friend request - technically you can, but this pseudo-choice masks the fact that in reality, it is socially unacceptable.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:57 PM on October 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Stalinist control is that you can't turn down a friend request - technically you can, but this pseudo-choice masks the fact that in reality, it is socially unacceptable.

What? I'm sorry. That's just silly.

I've turned down friend requests. And had my own requests rejected as well.

I've defriended people. And been defriended myself.

I have yet to hear of a social death on Facebook for discreetly asserting a few boundaries. It would probably be considered distasteful to make a big public to-do about severing ties with someone but that's no different from the real world.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:39 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I hear complaints about the weakening of the word "friend" because of social networks, I can't help but think the speaker is not understanding something about the terms used in those networks.

"Facebook friend" is a phrase. It is not equivalent with the word "friend." If you were talking about a good friend, you would not call them a "facebook friend." You might BE facebook friends, and note that, but it's not your primary relationship. If you primarily described someone as a "facebook friend" everyone would probably understand that you're acquaintances of indeterminate friendship.

Rob: Hey Jan. Are you and Steve friends?
Jan: Eh. We're facebook friends. [Implied: But I don't really know him that well...]

Rob: Hey Jan. How do you know Bob? Are you friends?
Jan: Yeah. We went to high school together.
Rob: Oh. I saw you were facebook friends and I wasn't sure.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:47 PM on October 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Adam Greenfield has used the term "antisocial networking" in a similar way (with some MeFi-specific thoughts).

My own thoughts: It's one thing to prescriptively recommend to people that they not take social-networking "friend" relationships too seriously.

However, we're rapidly being forced into dealing with the world at least in part through this type of simplified, commodified "friend" relationship. Yes, of course we can always choose, strictly speaking, whether or not to do x, y or z. But in practical terms, we don't always understand that we have a choice, and we sometimes get dragged-in to doing things we wouldn't otherwise do because of the other people involved in doing them -- or because of the other things those people are doing.
posted by lodurr at 1:47 PM on October 27, 2009


Dear Metafilter peoples,

I am sorry some of you did not like my brief post built around a hyperlink - I will be sure to get the next one peer reviewed before pressing submit. Some of you might consider learning to distinguish between blockquotes and regular text, this skill is handy in discerning whether the "voice" within a text is the author or a citation. Also, some of you might consider locating the word facetious in the dictionary.

@joeclark - I would die a happy man if I could give the world but one neologism.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get a semantic grip from the hardware store...
posted by serial_consign at 1:48 PM on October 27, 2009


"So, how would you classify hostile spousing?"

As a pretty good time.
posted by Eideteker at 1:48 PM on October 27, 2009


I would like to know how many enemies I have as a gauge of my success. I would also like the opportunity to verify the suspected correlation between the number of enemies I have and the number of people who have crushes on me.
posted by Eideteker at 1:49 PM on October 27, 2009


Caduceus: "Facebook jumped the shark for me when they changed their home page format so that you can't filter out all the annoying bullshit people do without either banning each individual application (and they're all individual applications) or blocking certain people entirely."

You need Facebook Purity, it's made FB much more tolerable now that I don't have to wade through all of the "Mob Wars" and "What Star Trek:TNG Character are you?" crap. You need to updated the script every couple of weeks since the HTML on FB changes so often but it's still worth it.
posted by octothorpe at 1:59 PM on October 27, 2009


I would like to join a social networking site in which I could arrange my connections into three groups - "friends," "Romans" and "countrymen." I would only ever address all three groups together in iambic pentameter, and then only to rouse them through toweringly subtle rhetoric to drive my true enemies from the internet entirely.

Exeunt.

posted by gompa at 2:03 PM on October 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


But gompa is an honorable man. So are they all honorable men.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:07 PM on October 27, 2009


Dear Metafilter peoples,

I am sorry some of you did not like my brief post built around a hyperlink - I will be sure to get the next one peer reviewed before pressing submit. Some of you might consider learning to distinguish between blockquotes and regular text, this skill is handy in discerning whether the "voice" within a text is the author or a citation. Also, some of you might consider locating the word facetious in the dictionary.

@joeclark - I would die a happy man if I could give the world but one neologism.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get a semantic grip from the hardware store...


Dear serial_consign:

I'm really really really really really really really really really sorry that I don't know how to distinguish between blockquotes and regular text. It wasn't a honest mistake at all, I really have absolutely no idea how to distinguish the two, and it tears at my very soul. Thank you for pointing out my mistake like this.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:08 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've turned down friend requests. And had my own requests rejected as well. I've defriended people. And been defriended myself.

That's true, I'm exaggerating a bit. All those actions occur in private, so it's not really Pravda-level control. But if you started seeing things like "Ted denied a friend request from Angela!", it might be.

The larger point I'm trying to make is that it's kind of naive to assume that control only functions in outright prohibitions or punishments of things (and that prohibitions are necessarily forms of control), it can also function by creating the false appearance of choice (Democrat or Republican?). That's a much more insidious form of control that we don't often recognize.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:16 PM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


[...]Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get a semantic grip from the hardware store...

You're not here to make friends, right?
posted by robself at 2:34 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eh, who gives a shit about the semantics.
posted by sciurus at 4:40 PM on October 27, 2009


socially unacceptable to turn down friend requests


What?
posted by captainsohler at 5:24 PM on October 27, 2009


I'm always vaguely surprised that people have such drama on Facebook. Then I remember people are using it like I used alt.society.gen-x 15 years ago. At which point it makes sense.

I have a number of actual friends (current and historical) on Facebook, and it's a tolerably easy way to stay in touch with them, but personally speaking a large number of my friends are fans, and I tend to use FB like I use Twitter, as a low-impact way to stay connected to folks who like my work. It's in many ways better for fan maintenance than a blog, since the likelihood of me saying anything to annoy a fan in a Tweet or Facebook status update is lower than in a blog posting, which are (generally) longer and more thought out.

As I use FB in this manner (and conversely don't use it as a genuinely personal space), I pretty much friend anyone who asks, and don't get at all hung up on the "friend" connotation in the least.
posted by jscalzi at 7:42 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shakespeherian: in that case you are their audience. I could have said you and your friends are each others audience, but the point is pretty much the same.
posted by rusty at 7:50 PM on October 27, 2009


Well, okay, but the way you said it made it sound like the reason that people 'friend' others is to have an audience, and that we should therefore discard the difficulties that particular usage of language presents us with and realize that we are simply picking audience members. Me and my friends being each others' audience seems to get us back to the original complexity.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:07 PM on October 27, 2009


I think the problem is that, when a user is new to Facebook — which was the case for all its users when it was new as a service — the first people they "friend" on FB are, in fact, probably their actual real-life friends. So it makes a certain amount of sense that the feature was called that. It makes it obvious what you're supposed to do.

However, as most people quickly find out, Facebook "friends" and actual in-person friends quickly become two separate (but overlapping) groups. You will probably have real-life friends who aren't on Facebook for whatever reason, and will eventually end up with "friends" on FB who are better described as acquaintances, fans, coworkers, family members, or any number of other relationship-qualifiers. And then the metaphor starts to break down.

Luckily, I think that people are used to metaphors being stretched like this, and will cope. After all, we have "folders" and "documents" on our virtual desktop, and do lots of things with them that you don't really do with paper folders and files. (Who's ever seen nested/hierarchical file folders in an actual file drawer?) The metaphor was useful initially, but now has been discarded in favor of dealing with the interface's abstractions in a more direct way.

Similarly, I doubt that many Facebook users have that hard a time accepting that FB "friends," and the concept of "friend" in general as it applies to Facebook, isn't the same as friendship in the real world. It's only odd if you start overthinking it; most users just shrug and move on, in the same way that they don't think about the practical impossibility of nesting folders five-deep when they're organizing stuff on their hard drive.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:52 PM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


jscalzi, I have one question and one thought to offer w.r.t. your strategy.

First, the question: Of course using Facebook and Twitter as fan pub makes sense for you, since you've passed a threshhold where the word of mouth of ordinary non-literary RL friends makes a critical difference to the success of a book. (OK, that was a thought, too.) Doesn't that mean you're left without an analog of FB to keep track of your RL friends who use FB (which is how most of us use it), because you have to keep that distance from the mass of people that use FB to keep track of your work?

My thought: the marketing raison d'etre for Facebook is that it not merely that it replaces alt.society.gen-x, but that it constitutes a revolutionary remaking of it.

Put another way: Facebook really only makes sense as a sustained business proposition if everybody uses it in an even more fundamental or intense way than you used alt.society.gen-x 15 years ago. They (and every other "social media" "provider" who's got a serious chance of getting lots of users) want you and I to use it as a medium for social interaction -- by which they mean, they want all of our social activities to be commodifiable, henceforth. It's no longer going to be about trying to keep track of friends; it's going to be about leveraging the fact that we want to keep track of friends to make money.

Since you use Facebook in a more or less one-way mode (I'm sure you're using it two-way to hear what your fans are saying and see what kind of stuff they're into, I'm just talking about the personal RL-friend-type connections), you don't have to deal with the commercial aspects of it.

Arguably, you're using FB as a way to commodify the relationship, though you're doing it in a way that I would argue is different in kind from the way that Facebook needs to do it in order for their business model to work. You're talking and listening as a real living person. Facebook is observing ("listening") behavior and acting as a huge machine, identifying areas where they can scavenge interactive goodwill in the form of money. They're farming the interactions for cash.

I don't say this as a way to say that Facebook is eeeeevil. But I do mean to say that I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people using Facebook don't understand it that way. Even if they have an intellectual grasp of the concepts involved, they don't really get it on a gut, behavioral level. That leaves them open to (un-knowing) exploitation.
posted by lodurr at 4:43 AM on October 28, 2009


BTW, what I've just talked about is not directly what ("MeFi's Own!") Adam Greenfield was talking about in the piece I linked above, but it does relate to it. Adam's basically starting from the assumption that people treat social media relationships as though they're RL relationships. I assume he's doing that because in his professional millieu, that's what's desired (not by him, but by large companies like, say, Nokia). In that, it also relates to his ideas on the ethics of Ubicomp. To anyone who's at all interested in this stuff in more than a passing way, I highly recommend them.

If he happens to drop in and feel I've mis-characterized his positions, I hope he'll correct me...
posted by lodurr at 4:50 AM on October 28, 2009


lodurr:

"Doesn't that mean you're left without an analog of FB to keep track of your RL friends who use FB (which is how most of us use it), because you have to keep that distance from the mass of people that use FB to keep track of your work?"

Possibly, but I'm not sure it matters to any great extent, since if I want to communicate with friends on a more complex level than my FB status updates, I can simply chat with them privately, via phone/IM/e-mail/visits -- i.e., what one does with actual friends anyway, or should (in my opinion).

That said, for the day-to-day "hey I'm still alive" aspect of Facebook, the chatty updates I do on FB to a great extent work equally well for fans and for friends; the difference being how they're received, based on their relationship to me. I should note that on both Facebook and Twitter I do very little overt marketing (i.e., "MY BOOK IS OUT OMG BOOST MY AMAZON RANKING"), since I find that sort of thing obnoxious; I mostly post what anyone else posts -- small observations and life updates. As you say, talking and listening as a real person.
posted by jscalzi at 5:30 AM on October 28, 2009


How about this: If you think too much about Facebook and don't accept that you like connecting with people and are mildly curious about what long-lost friends or frenemies are up to, then you're thinking way too hard about Facebook and social networking, and should probably use that energy to do something more interesting.

Deconstructing and overanalyzing innocent behavior on Facebook? Silly waste of time. Why does it really matter? Now that would be a question that would be interesting.
posted by anniecat at 7:08 AM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why does it really matter? Now that would be a question that would be interesting.

And that's what I'm trying to get at, speaking for myself. The answer is that Facebook wants us to think about Facebook that way. In fact, I would argue that any large corporation that's marketing goods or services "wants"* us to think that way about social networking, for the simple reason that it opens up social networks to monetization.

--
*To the extent that corporations can "want." Which is a significant extent.
posted by lodurr at 7:10 AM on October 28, 2009


I quite agree with those who say you shouldn't confuse the Facebook "friend" relationship with actual friends, and those who do are likely to create unnecessary drama and angst. And for those decrying the semantic dilution of the word: Language evolves. Words have multiple meanings, usually distinguishable by context. Don't expect the precision of a computer programming language from a natural language.

I have about 400 Facebook "friends"—of course, I don't have 400 friends! I do have 400 acquaintances. I've also categorized them extensively into lists, which is helpful to me if I'm going somewhere where I'm likely to see some of them again—I can review people from that occasion which I met a year or two before, which makes my memory for names and faces seem significantly better than it actually is.

I know someone who keeps an offline copy of his Facebook friends list, so he can compare to the current list and see if anyone has de-friended him recently, since FB doesn't provide any notification when that happens. This seems completely absurd and pointless to me. Maybe about 50 of my Facebook "friends" are people I'd actually consider friends, and I figure I'd notice sooner or later if one of these de-friended me. But as for the mere acquaintances which make up the bulk of my "friends" list, I honestly don't care if they de-friend me, so I don't bother to track that.

This is particularly awful when you are reminded to "reconnect" with someone who is dead.

That's actually not new—FB has had the means to report deceased members and memorialize their pages for some time. Unfortunately, they don't seem to always follow through on it. I know someone who died last August, and a few weeks later I dutifully reported this to FB, but they have yet to memorialize his page, and with the recent redesign I've seen his profile come up among those I'm reminded to "reconnect" with. Although looking at the current form to report deceased members, FB is now asking for more information than they did in August, including the actual URL of the person's profile (duh!) and an obituary, so maybe they're getting better at it. Maybe I'll re-submit and see if they follow through this time.

Then some of my favorite people IRL would update several times a day about what they wanted to have for breakfast, what they adorable puppy was doing now, etc., and I didn't want to read it, and thus I defriended people whom I love.

You can hide updates from specific individuals without de-friending them. There's a few "friends" of the post-a-status-update-every-hour variety I've done that to. There's no indication to the friend that they're hidden from your feed, and that way, they can still see your updates if they desire to.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:38 AM on October 28, 2009


Everyone at my work is on facebook, but I tell them all I am not. I am sure they can search and see that I am lying, but it is far easier for me to have them all be vaguely irritated at my lie then to have them spread my every update around the office with detailed analysis, as they do with all the other be-facebooked coworkers we have.

They also stalk their own children via facebook, which makes me inexpressibly grateful there was but little of an internet around when I was in high school.
posted by winna at 11:11 AM on October 28, 2009


Facebook privacy: NOT!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:30 PM on October 28, 2009


Everyone at my work is on facebook, but I tell them all I am not. I am sure they can search and see that I am lying, but it is far easier for me to have them all be vaguely irritated at my lie then to have them spread my every update around the office with detailed analysis, as they do with all the other be-facebooked coworkers we have.

Another option: "I'm sorry. I don't friend coworkers. I only use Facebook to keep in touch with family and old friends. Please don't take it personally."
posted by jason's_planet at 8:41 AM on October 29, 2009


Yet another option: restrict your search visibility to friends (or friends of friends) for a while.

Then go about blocking all of those coworkers you don't want to include.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:52 AM on October 29, 2009


It honestly legitimately bugged me when I got divorced and initially still kept my ex-spouse as a FB friend there is no option for "ex-spouse." There is "dated and were practically married" but not "were married."

Geezus FB, live in the now! If 50% of marriages end in divorce and you have a "spouse" option, you should also have an "ex-spouse" option.

Though nothing tops my friend who is in a "complicated" relationship with Postmodernism.

(Or at least was, I think FB may have removed the "Postmodernism" profile for being an obvious hoax.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:18 AM on October 29, 2009


I know someone who died last August, and a few weeks later I dutifully reported this to FB, but they have yet to memorialize his page, and with the recent redesign I've seen his profile come up among those I'm reminded to "reconnect" with. Although looking at the current form to report deceased members, FB is now asking for more information than they did in August, including the actual URL of the person's profile (duh!) and an obituary, so maybe they're getting better at it. Maybe I'll re-submit and see if they follow through this time.

Just as a followup to this, I re-reported the person's death this past weekend, with the additional information FB is now requesting (link to the person's actual profile on FB and link to an actual obituary). That person's FB account has now been "memorialized," so it looks like they are taking more care with this now than they have in the past.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:37 AM on November 4, 2009


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