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The art of 'Friending' on Facebook

December 16, 2008
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I've recently joined the Facebook revolution. Yes, I know, I'm late in this, but I also didn't start watching "L.A. Law" until the third season and still haven't seen "Mad Men," so I'm not always an early adaptor.

I signed on to Facebook, like most people, for multiple reasons. It's a great way to share photos with family and friends. It helps in getting in touch and staying in touch with long-lost pals and acquaintences. It's a simple way to update everyone important in your life on what you are doing.  

And, yes, it can be a useful networking tool. As a journalist as well as a writer of books and plays, I never know where an important connection might be made. 

I'm finding one of Facebook's big challenges, though, is when to say no. 

Facebook discourages limiting the people on your "friends" list. And it does that in subtle ways. If someone wants to be in your network -- to access your postings and give you access to what they post -- you "friend" them. And Facebook is constantly putting in front of you people you might want to "friend."

If you don't know the person well or don't think he or she is someone you want seeing your family pictures or reading what you are saying to your pals, you have to "ignore" them.  

Seems kind of rude.

At first I left the door open and approved "friend" status for anyone asking. But soon I found that I was privy to conversations between people who I couldn't pick out of a lineup. The clutter ate up time -- there was more to sort through to get to the stuff that I really wanted to see. And I wasn't ready to let Facebook dominate my life. So I quickly opted to switch the status of some folks to that obnoxious "ignore" and make myself more like an old-school Studio 54 bouncer at the door.

Many of these now ignored "friends" were PR folks, faceless organizations, and people from the Indy arts community--some of whom I've never had a conversation with. To them, I apologies if my ignoring seems rude. 

Many of these were also people who list having hundreds of friends. I respect that others may use this amazing medium for different reasons than me. I'm not knocking you if you love having everyone you've ever met --and many who you haven't -- included as a Facebook "friend."

But, at least for now, I've decided to keep my "friends" limited to, well, friends. Specifically people I knew from work, school, or wherever who I am not otherwise easily in touch with. Plus people who I wouldn't think out of line if they asked me if I could give them a ride to the airport.

For the rest, well, I'm pretty easy to get in touch with, whether here at IBJ or through www.smallerindiana.com or www.indianaauditions.com or, professionally, through www.linkedin.com.

Whether a "friend" or not, I'm curious how you are using Facebook? Is it in any way enhancing your A&E life or, rather, is it eating up time you could be reading, going to shows, etc.? Is all of this social networking actually leading to face-to-face socializing for you?

Your thoughts?
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