Will You Be My Friend?


With Facebook crossing the 200 million-member mark on Wednesday, it’s clear our inboxes will never be the same. I’m receiving emails from my relatives, college professors and business colleagues that I met at a professional association luncheon, inviting me to be their “friend.”

Don’t get me wrong; I like most of the people that send these requests. But am I really their friend?

The social networking phenomenon has created this weird middle ground between acquaintances and friendships. I know quite a bit about these people that I’m connected with, but we certainly aren’t what I would consider traditional friends. We don’t get together to hang out a lot. We aren’t chatting all the time. But I do care about what is happening in their lives.

These nebulous relationships create some potentially awkward professional situations. For example, what if your boss asks to be your friend? Or what about a colleague from a rival company? Should you ignore? Decline? Accept?

An article in yesterday’s Wichita Eagle shared some helpful insight. Be sure to check it out.

But we want to turn to you, our loyal readers, for additional guidance. What recommendations do you have for managing your online presence? How do you determine who becomes a Facebook friend and who is a LinkedIn connection?

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  1. Aimee B
    April 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm — Reply

    Lately, I’ve found that I collect friends like Pokemon cards. It’s gotten a little out of hand. At first, I tried to institute the “If I wouldn’t be embarrassed about you seeing me drink a whole bottle of cheap wine by myself, straight from the bottle, then you can be my friend” rule. But, unfortunately, that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

  2. April 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm — Reply

    Word. Facebook had blurred the line between acquaintance and friend. I mostly use it to keep track of who I went to university with or viewing those family pictures from my old roommates last trip to Europe. I wouldn’t exactly call every one of the 337 people friends, but I can say that I have actually met and spoken to each individual. It’s definitely become a running counter of that sort.

  3. Kenny G.
    April 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm — Reply

    So, Todd, you currently have 807 friends on Facebook. Do you really care what happens to all of us? Do you even know all of us? 🙂

  4. April 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm — Reply

    Kenny, I think I could go through all 807 and say how I knew every single person. It would be a considerable challenge, but I think I could do it.

    And yes, I do care about my friends. I may not care that they’re more like a ninja than a pirate, but when something significant comes across my news feed, I’m interested, concerned, proud, happy or whatever emotion is appropriate for the update. I promise!

  5. […] Facebook is stressing some people out. Who should I invite to be my “friend”? Which invitations to be a “friend” should I accept? Todd attempts to calm your anxiety. […]

  6. lkelly
    April 14, 2009 at 7:05 pm — Reply

    Todd, that’s a lot of “friends” to keep track of! I remember a college sociology prof (or was it anthropology?) telling us that each of us has roughly 800 people in our personal “villages” — folks we know by sight and can, if prompted, probably put names to. For most of us, it includes celebrities and political figures we don’t actually know. So, I’m impressed by your prowess! (Or maybe that prof was simply working with outdated data; it was gathered pre-Facebook and Twitter, after all!)

  7. Kieran
    April 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm — Reply

    i do agree that Facebook and LinkedIn and the myriad of social networking websites blur the distinction between a friend and an acquaintance. However I find it useful to connect with people who I don’t know as long as there is a shared connection. When I as last looking for a job I discovered that the people I knew weren’t entirely helpful to me but the people they knew led me to getting my current job. I am a believer that people who I don’t know yet will lead me to my next job.
    But the important thing is that there is a shared connection. Facebook should be about starting a conversation but also continuing the conversation when you are no longer face 2 face.

  8. March 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm — Reply

    It’s best to group your “Friends” into Family, Close Friends, Acquaintances — it’s good that Facebook have this grouping. In this way we can choose which of our posts can be read by those truly close to us, and those who are just acquaintances.

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Will You Be My Friend?