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 or or, professionally, through

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?
  • As an early adopter of Facebook (because it started while I was still in college), I love the ability to get stay in touch with people that I don't necessarily see on a regular basis. It provides a way to easily keep up with what people are doing and provides a nearly full-proof way to contact them if I don't have an updated e-mail address.

    The other great thing about Facebook is that it allows organizations to keep in touch with people and not have to worry about distribution lists or phone trees. I've planned mini-reunions with college friends via facebook and everyone can follow the conversation without having to piece together 30 different e-mails. The youth group I work with uses Facebook a lot and it really seems to work for teens.

    But I certainly appreciate Lou's thoughts. While in college, I had a number of people who just wanted to get their friend count up and would try to friend me ... never having met me. My rule of thumb is to only friend someone that I have had a meaningful conversation with and that seems to work well. The interesting thing I notice is the number of people my parents' age who are joining Facebook. While I can understand someone with children joining to watch their children's activity, it just seems weird to have my parents on.
  • I love Facebook, I'll admit it. I joined it simply because the majority of my friends were on there, and many are not in Indy, so it seemed a great way to keep in contact. I use it mainly for that, and it's great.

    Facebook has also gotten me some gigs! I asked a conductor I worked under years ago to be my friend, and not long after that he asked if I could play a concert.

    And in addition to putting the usual about me stuff on there, I put a link to my blog. I asked a music critic in Chicago to be my friend on Facebook since I was an admirer of his writing (and he was kind and gracious enough to say yes), and one day upon checking his blog, I noticed he had a little blurb about my blog--all thanks to Facebook.

    It's been a great way for me to network with people all over the place, keep in touch with close friends, post fun pictures, write notes/blogs, etc etc. I love it!

    (don't worry Lou--I won't send you a friend request) :-)
  • Some days I'm all about checking out Facebook. Others, not so much. I started my Facebook site in May - didn't touch it for months and then recently decided to beef up my presence. It's been fun. Connections have been made with some friends that I haven't seen in (dare I say it) 30 years. The idea of 'six degrees of separation' it starting to play out.

    As far as getting me to face-to-face networking...we'll see - but there's real potential as I get more savvy about inviting friends...when I'm not actually really DOING things with friends and family.

    I have enjoyed chatting with people within my circle that don't live nearby.

    Darn, I was going to invite you to be my Friend, Lou until I read your aptly expressed need to keep your priorities in line. I concur since my first thoughts about a Web presence really went against my desire for privacy. Guess that gets balanced out by connecting to friends from high school that moved away and gosh, have become very different people from the ones I knew- or is it that I was in my own little world back then!?
  • I started out with MySpace to keep an eye on my teenagers. I soon found it useful for my own socialization. Then, I was introduced to Facebook and try as I might, I just can't get used to it. I only check it if I get an e-mail telling me someone has posted a comment, sent me a message or invited me to be a friend...and no, I've never ignored a friend request...yet. Fortunately, my social circle is pretty small, so I don't get a lot of requests.
  • Hey, Lou, could you give me a ride to the airport next week?

    (Someone suggested to me on Facebook a couple days ago that you and I should be friends. I'm trying to decide if they're right.)

    Hope Baugh
  • I find I get people from high school I would rather not have on my page. I've ignored one so far. Otherwise it's nice to tay in touch with people and all the people on my page are actual friends of mine. What annoys me though are all those invitations and things. I can't figure out what most of them are. I usually just ignore all those things. I also MySpace and found its format to be a little easier to navigate.
  • There's a simple solution to this. Under your privacy setting, you can customize who can see what.

    This means you can let your crazy college buddies see your embarrassing photo albums and You Tube postings, while keeping a coworker's view limited to basic contact info.

    This way you can control exactly how much access your friends have to your personal information and profile.
  • I'm struggling with the Facebook format. It's like a nagging head demon....say something, anything, go on, what are you doing right now?, share it, it'll sound great in third person, really. Whoa there! What's with the expanded thought? One sentence please.

    I have been contacted by long lost acquaintances, but I want to go elsewhere to converse with them.

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  1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

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