Friday, November 24, 2017

Friending on Facebook

I get quite a lot of friend requests on Facebook, most of which I decline. I thought it would be worth explaining why here, in the hope that some of the people who want to friend me also read my blog.

All of my FB posts are public, open to everyone. So the only effect of friending someone is that I get to see his posts--some at random, if I correctly understand how FB works, some because they mention me or have some other content that makes FB flag them for my attention.

When I get a friend request, I look at the requester's page to see if there is a particular reason why I would want to see his posts and the comments on them. If they are in a language other than English I almost always decline, since I am not fluent in any other language and so would rarely make the effort to read them. Google translate is getting better, but still not good enough for routine use. If the posts and comments are in English, I look at them to see if there is anything that makes them more interesting than the average of what I am already seeing on FB. If not I usually decline. 

I'm not entirely comfortable with this policy since I worry that people will interpret my declining their request as an unfriendly response, but I don't see much point to accumulating hundreds or thousands of "friends" whose posts I don't actually read.


Eli said...

Yeah but you get a big number to show off.

I make sure I have as many friends as possible so people know I'm popular.

Sam said...

You know you can unfollow friends so their posts don't show up in your feed, right?

David Friedman said...


So then what's the point of friending them?

Sam said...

You wrote: "I worry that people will interpret my declining their request as an unfriendly response."

If you unfollow them, you get to both avoid being unfriendly and avoid seeing posts you don't care for, which seems to solve your conundrum here.

Sam said...

*avoid worrying about being perceived as unfriendly, rather.

Joe said...

"So then what's the point of friending them?"

There are two kinds of items that appear in your feed from people you follow and are your friends: items they post or share (those also appear in that person's timeline) and items they "like". So, if you unfollow people who, for example, click "Like" on every kitten picture they see, you can still see all their posts or shares if you find them interesting by visiting their timelines, or you can put them in a Friend List that you visit regularly.

Daniel [] said...

I use Facebook (and my independent 'blog) as a means of communicating information in restricted entries that I don't wish to share with a wider public, and I don't have nearly so many people interested in what I have to say as do you. Yet still I find it difficult to arrive at a policy with which I am least uncomfortable.

I don't see those who decline my few requests as hostile, but I've been saddened by being decline by some of them, and by being ignored by others. When I decline a request or unbeFriend someone, I am aware that I may be having a similar effect on them. Still, I sometimes do each.

Jonathan said...

Your policy seems comprehensible and reasonable to me. I don't want to have thousands of Facebook friends; I don't want to have my news feed cluttered with lots of stuff I don't want to read; so I can well understand that you feel the same way.

Although I feel friendly towards you, I haven't sent you a Facebook friend invitation because I wouldn't expect my average Facebook post to excite your interest sufficiently. What I put on Facebook is intended for personal friends and not for a larger audience.

Remarkably, I see that I have 42 strangers following my public posts on Facebook, but that's unexpected and strikes me as a bit weird. I make no effort to attract or cater for them.

Michael Duff said...

This is why most famous people use a Page instead of a personal account to interact with readers. Make a Page for yourself that people can follow and it won't have a personal context. The act of following won't require a response from or create a social obligation for you.

Personal accounts only allow a maximum of 5,000 friends, so even with the best of intentions, there's a hard limit.