Thursday, May 22, 2008


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 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.



I think it all depends what you use it for.

I have over 500 friends, but then again, I really use it for the social networking/marketing aspect. People come across my podcast, or across the Facebook profile because they searched for opera. That means it works and pays to add everyone. If people like what you do, then you should allow everyone in.

If you're using it to stay in touch with close friends, then I can see your dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to support you. I don't understand why there isn't a tiered structure.

Friends and Family?

Professional Network (limited profile)?

I met you yesterday and it was fun. Let's deepen our relationship via facebook updates!


Chris Foley said...

What I dislike the most about Facebook is the mountains of application spam that I get from people that should really know better. I'm probably more permissive than some regarding adding friends--so much of Toronto's arts scene is Facebook-centered right now and it's worthwhile to get all the event listings and be able to reach people via Facebook messaging.

MySpace? Hated it.

(Disclaimer: 502 Facebook friends as of Thursday evening)

kelly said...

i hear that. from time to time i'll do a purge of people i've really only met once or twice. i really don't have much personal info on my fb anymore, other than status updates, but i don't want misc. people to be able to see my photos!

Anonymous said...

I think if you are going to use Facebook, you have to do it on your own terms. Personally, after a few weeks of overuse, I found it intensely irritating. So I have a message saying, I'm here, if you want to contact me, but don't expect me to join in with sheep-throwing etc.

It's difficult to draft a message that covers everything you want to, without being too long-winded or unintentionally causing offence.

Of course, our lives are completely different, but I feel that any message on Facebook (or my blog) is stuff I can share with complete strangers or with people I know, but don't know they're reading, whereas proper friend-to-friend communication is face-to-face, on the phone, or by email.

Anonymous said...

*nods in agreement*

It seems to be getting worse lately. I keep going over and over my privacy settings to make sure only my "real" friends can see my photos, etc. I find the set-up somewhat confusing, though, so who knows if it's's not as if I can ask a "non-friend" friend if they can or cannot see my pictures!

There is a truly funny Facebook parody video floating around on the internet. It's so funny...because it's true. Sigh. I'll post it on my blog today!

Valerie said...

I totally identified with what you shared about Facebook friends- I made sure not to join any networks when I found out that complete strangers can see your profile, so feel a little reassured. I completely understand your desire to be selective.

I turn down invitations from strangers (duh) and people I don't feel simpatico with. One person I've met a few times decided to friend me, despite never having been nice to me when we actually met! I ignored the invitation, and he then went on to invite me another 8 times! And no, I still haven't accepted...

I have a few friends from cyberspace (hi Chris!)but only after swapping blog posts and ideas for a while.

Having said all that, I do love facebook for one thing- it has allowed me to reconnect to many of my ex-students from the Guildhall in London (I'm now in California) and I love to hear where they are now and what they're up to. But barely any of my truly close friends have joined, despite my best efforts. It's a strange world... said...

Sorry, ACB, I deleted my post because my email address was being shown. Turns out that deleting the comment didn't delete my address. Hmmm. Can you remove that from your end? I'm not sure why my address became my identity; I must have done something wrong. Oh well!

Anyway, what I wrote earlier, in case anyone cares:

When I first went on facebook it was for a purely selfish reason; I was trying to locate oboists at UCSC! Since then I have said, over and over, "I don't get facebook!" And I don't. I have been asked to be "friends" with people I don't know at all. It's been suggested, via some sort of "you might have something in common with this person" that I become friends with people I occasionally walk by at school, but don't even say "hi" to.

So I say it again ... I really don't get facebook.

And I think I prefer to have only a few friends. Some people want to collect friends. I guess it makes them feel good. I find so many friends sort of scary, actually. Because friendship takes a lot of time and effort. Maybe I'm weird. Or lazy.

I'm thinking about dropping the facebook thing for that and other reasons. I read recently that a lot of our information gets shared with a lot of friends ... um ... I mean strangers.

Oh wait. I think those words are becoming synonymous.

In addition, my husband was somehow put into several groups that he had not joined. That was a bit odd.

Ramble ramble. (My feelings won't be hurt if you "unfriend" me. Until we meet in person. And you find out just how much fun I am. ;-)

Susan said...

I thought you could turn down friend requests without the requester knowing?

I too have a bunch of non-friends on my friends list. Never thought of doing a purge but maybe I will... I just ignore them, unless I notice that they play Scrabulous, and then I challenge them. So ... can you challenge people who aren't on your friends list?

But seriously, it is annoying to see status updates for people I don't really know, especially when I keep up with some real friends through their status updates!

I ignore almost all the application invitations.

If you go to the privacy settings, you can decide exactly who can see what. There are "limited" friends lists you can put people on if you don't want them seeing everything.

MySpace is amusing. I usually delete those messages without reading them. I do actually have a few "real" friends there who do all their emailing from there for some odd reason!

So are you moving to China to start your film career? ;)

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