Not sure if it’s my age, my leanings towards introversion or my busy schedule, but I confess that I’m having a difficult time with Facebook. I sort of get Twitter, and enjoy the constraint of 140 characters, but when it comes to Facebook, I’m at a loss.
Perhaps it all starts with the word “friend.”
Four or five years ago when I first set up my Facebook account, I started getting friend requests. Which apparently is one of the objectives. And in the process, I noticed an interesting problem. I didn’t really “know” many of the people requesting to be my friend. Apparently they knew me, staring back at me from within a sea of faces all day at a speaking gig.
That’s when I made my first major mistake. Because I didn’t know that the meaning of “friend” had changed!
Initially, I used a rather blunt, old-fashioned way of determining whether to accept a friend request: would I enjoy spending time with this person over a cup of coffee? Would we have enough in common to talk for say 15-20 minutes? If so, accept. If not, pass. Which means, I’d need to have a memorable, real-world experience with this person to even remember their name.
Now I’m told by people who spend hours on Facebook each day that this may have been a needlessly restrictive criterion! (For all of you who I may have virtually snubbed in the process, I apologize!)
Silly me. That may be how you might define a real-world friend, but this is the Internet! Apparently, the word friend has been reduced to something closer to what I’d call an acquaintance. Or, “I’m-familiar-with-you.” Or, “I can spell your name.”
Overlay that revelation with the motive that there are some complete strangers who are motivated to collect as many friends as possible (whoever has the most wins?) and you can also fall victim to “friend spamming.” How strange!
So. What to do?
I’d appreciate those who are Facebook literate to weigh in on my current strategy and provide some guidance. Here’s my current approach: Even if I don’t recognize the name, I’m accepting anyone for whom we share 20 or more mutual friends (acquaintances). Is that number too high? Too low?
Granted, this relies on the “wisdom of crowds.” But it would seem to help avoid having the wall cluttered with spam. Right? Is that a good idea? Or is there a better strategy? If so, please share it.