I might be over Facebook, and not just because I can’t seem to win at Scrabulous.
When I recently turned down a friend request, I said that it was because I usually “try to wait until I work with someone twice before I add them.” I didn’t even realize when I wrote that that, of course, I had added several other members of the cast; they were my friends, had become my friends during our rehearsals. What I should have said was that I try to become friends with someone before I add them, or that I try to make sure the relationship is more than superficial, more than the “insta-friendship” that so often appears on a gig.
But how do you say to someone, “Sorry, we didn’t really bond, so I don’t want to be Facebook friends with you?” How do you say, “I’m not sure you and I are going to “Christmas card” friends, so can we wait on the Facebook thing?” Or, for a different kind of request, “Hey, we weren’t really even friends in school, so why do you want to be my Facebook friend?” Or, “I know we know a lot of the same people, but I’ve never met you, so, ummm... ??” When I was a kid and I would call someone “my friend,” my mom would often say “That person is really more of an acquaintance; be careful which words you choose.” (Guidance like that is partially responsible for my love of language as an adult.)
Even MySpace is freaking me out these days: I’m getting fairly regular proposals from a guy in China (at least, that who/where he says he is) who wants to marry me and make me a famous movie star. Ummm... no, thanks. I think I’ll move my non-blog networking site to New Amsterdam Records and just be done with the quagmire that is MySpace. (Seriously, if you want a music-only networking site, hie thee hence to NAR.com and make a profile. It’s the wave of the future.)
I was pretty blunt about the online-friendship thing last summer at Wolf Trap, telling a lot of the Studio Artists that I probably wasn’t going to ad them, and that if I did it would likely be on Limited Profile. When I wrote about this subject a year ago, I had 20% of my Friends list on Limited Profile. That is now up to 55%. Over half!! And who has 329 friends anyway?! I need to figure something out... I’m heading into another summer gig where I’ll make about 40 “friends.” Oh boy.
In the end, there is no formula for what makes someone feel like a friend versus an acquaintance. That’s my call. I’m sure I’ll offend some people by cutting back my Friends list or by not adding them right away, but anyone who doesn’t understand my reasons for being a bit more private, for having a less liberal definition of Friendship, probably isn’t a real friend anyway.