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August 07, 2009

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Julie

I think it is perfectly reasonable to place personal limits on social networking sites. I have so many different filters going that it's a bit unwieldy at times but it works for me. For example, I'm a lot more likely to "friend" someone on Facebook than I am on LiveJournal.

And I continue to wish we lived closer!

Red_ruby

What Julie said :-) In fact, I consider my Facebook account completely public, and I use it for non-personal purposes (politics, business, networking).

I get that not everyone wants the same groups in their social circles, and any discomfort with overlapping groups (where I'm in X's circle with mutual friends/acquaintances, but they aren't in my circle) is the cost of doing business IYKWIM in the online world :-)

I honestly treasure my online relationships, and have a hard time imagining my life without those friends.

Gretchen

I'm totally amused by your last paragraph since this has been An Issue amongst some of my "real life" friends recently. All sort of feelings get hurt when Family A invites Family B over for a BBQ, but doesn't invite Family C. Family C gets all passive agressive and bitchy--either in person or over Facebook. It is so juvenile it makes me want to scream. I've seen this same situation play out as a member of both Family A and Family B in separate instances. So, no, I don't see any reason why online relationships need to be any different. Particularly in instances where the online parties have rarely, if ever, commented on something I've posted or seemed otherwise interested in my life. If I haven't invited the mother of my kid's friend to my BBQ, than why do I have an obligation to friend the internet equivalent?

webhill

Oy vey. Sure, it's reasonable to place limits. I guess my thing is - when I've had a long-term online relationship with someone, that has covered everything from Usenet to Facebook to privately-managed fora, and then all of a sudden, with no explanation, I'm dropped from one particular forum, well - it feels to me the same way I would feel if any "real life" friend saw me at a cocktail party and said "hey - look, I don't want to hurt your feelings or anything, but you can't be my friend at this party. You can listen in when I'm speaking to others, but when I start conversations, I don't want you trying to take part." It sucks. I don't see how to take it any differently! Now, if a person emailed me and said "hey, just FYI, I'm going to be using this social network (or this particular cocktail party) for networking with a certain group, that you're not in, so I can't include you but it's really not my intent to hurt your feelings," that's a different story. Also, this doesn't apply to all random net acquaintances. I'm talking specifically long-term close-knit online groups, who know who they are.

I also use Facebook filters. I have work filters, client filters, friend filters, family filters. It can I think be handled with kindness.

yellwlab

I wrote a very long, convoluted reply early today and I just wasn't able to say what I wanted to. I think Hillary said what I meant.

I have people in all my various fora that I sometimes wish I didn't. But truly it's of no consequence to me whether they're there or not, and I'd rather have them there and ignore (or mute or whatever) them rather than cut them out and hurt them.

All of that said, I wish H. would not be hurt by this. The person in question is unworthy of Hillary's kindness and friendship.

jentifred

I guess the way I see it is that of course you have the right to friend/not friend, invite/not invite people. And as someone who has been excluded a couple of times it does sting. But you know, it stings a whole lot less when the person excluding me explains WHY. Even a "you know, I don't really see us as that close of friends" is less hurtful than just being defriended, rejected, or blocked without comment.

stylishboots

Going to try to address a few things here - do you know that I have no idea if Typepad has comment size limits? We'll see if I can be succinct. ;-)

@Julie - I wish we lived closer too! Our visits were so much fun, and I really need to talk The Husband into that trip to your neck of the woods.

@jentifred - Yes. I didn't address the issue of how the exclusion is done. That's actually one of the things that was part of my "weird convergence"; I recently discovered I was unfriended by a HS friend on FB without a word. It stung a bit, to not at least be told, "hey, I'm limiting my FB friends only to people currently in my life, no hard feelings", as a different HS friend recently posted. On the other hand, IRL we drifted apart 18 years ago, something that was marked by both of us just not calling each other anymore. Neither of us ever said, "I'm just going to not call you anymore", it just happened. So is not-friending (or unfriending) without a word really so different? [that's sort of rhetorical, BTW - it's the question that was rolling around my head, but feel free to tell me your thoughts].

@Gretchen - I'm kind of giggling over your RL dramaz; maybe this is why I just don't bother to entertain. ;-)

@webhill & @yellwlab - I think I addressed most of what you're saying in my response to @jentifred. The particular situation that you're commenting on is only one component of what drove this blog post. And I think I might be viewing the various fora somewhat differently. I think each individual's profile is their "cocktail party". Some of the cocktail parties have do not have guest lists that fully match every other cocktail party. So I guess I'm not looking at it from the perspective of being at the cocktail party & being forced to sit alone on the couch, but rather just not being invited to that particular party. Your perspective is a new take on it for me, thanks!

@Red_ruby - I agree; my life has been enriched by the people I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

Hey, I think I still have room left! ;-)

yellwlab

I see the cocktail party thing. My Facebook is a cocktail party of sorts. New folk, old folk, everybody coming and going and chatting but not about anything important and no one stays long.

I view 'our' LJ group (etc.) differently. To me, that crowd is like a group of neighbors who live on the same street, and have for a really long time. Everyone knows each other and are genuinely friends and care about each other. Our party is like girls night in, with wine, and pjs and chick flicks and chocolate. Most of us wouldn't stop inviting someone suddenly, invite only a few people and make sure that everyone knew were having a party to which they weren't invited. At least I hope not.

Sarah

I hear you. I've been thinking about this -- my place in social media -- a lot lately, actually, mostly in relation to the "OMG my mom/aunt/whoever friended me on Facebook!" posts that seem to be popular. I have a totally public blog, and my Twitter account is totally public. My Facebook account has some pretty strict privacy controls, but if I know you I will add you. (The only person whose friend request I have ever rejected - with the exception of people I truly do not know - is one person from high school who I really, REALLY did not ever get along with. There is no one else I can foresee ever saying no to there.) I'm public on Goodreads and various other topic-specific sites. But I have a journal elsewhere online (being deliberately vague here as it has no connection whatsoever to my other social media sites) and a couple of other places where I have chosen to be more private.

I think of it like this: if it is something I would discuss with a random library patron, I will happily put it on one of my public sites. If it's something I'd mention to my coworkers, it goes somewhere else, and if it's something that only my close friends would know, it's filtered even more. I don't think there's anything mean or exclusionary about wanting to choose my audience. To follow yellwlab's "girls night in" analogy above, in my knitting group I am really, truly, genuinely friends with everyone -- but yet there are people in the group I am closer to and spend more time with outside of knitting group time, and they are privy to information about me that the others aren't. I don't think that's so unusual, and I disagree with the notion that all members of a particular group have to share the same level of intimacy.

onepinktee

I am on a lot of social networks and each one has a specific use and the circles I frequent in each are different. Because each has a different use, my friending "policies" are different for each. For some networks, I keep a much tighter circle - some of that is about privacy and information control, some of it is kind of like topic control, and frankly some is volume control. On a couple of networks I've reached my capacity for the number of people I can maintain in my circle, so adding anyone likely means subtracting someone or dividing my attention more than I'd like. But the short version is that the reasons are varied and they usually have nothing to do with "I don't like you." And I also don't feel a great need to explain my policies on a case-by-case basis.

I also share @Sarah's assessment that in any group, it's rare that everyone enjoys the same level of intimacy with everyone else. For instance, as the years have passed and the original AN crowd has changed, grown up, etc, interests and personalities have changed and I'd be dishonest if I said I felt the same way about every member. (Nor do I expect every member to feel the same about me.) This I'm sure is an unpopular sentiment but I'm not going to lie about it. Obviously I am very close to some members of the group - and to me they are just my friends, not my AN friends. We've gone on vacations together, our families have spent time together, etc. I don't apologize for that.

By the same token, there are people who I included in my circle because they were part of a larger group, and as time passed I began to question these connections based not on the group but on our individual connection. That has led me to change my circles to some degree. And I'm not alone in this - there are people who have selected me out of their networks, so I won't pretend all groups, like AN, are as tightly knit as it once was or as some of the responses indicate. It *is* of consequence who is on my networks - and muting or filtering can be helpful tool in maintaining my own boundaries, but what happens when I go to a new network? I don't want to continue replicating networks that aren't functional for me for one reason or another.

onepinktee

(continued from above)

There's one social network where my use was solely related to AN - the group was primary and the network used to connect with it was secondary. As I branched out to other networks I was looking for different things. When I joined Twitter, for instance, it didn't occur to me that "hey, I need to invite all of AN to join me here." That had nothing to do with AN as a group and everything to do with wanting my participation in a new network to evolve organically.

Like I said, this probably isn't going to be a well-received response. As @stylishboots said, sometimes friendships and people drift apart - it's natural. I think ignoring this simple fact creates unrealistic expectations that perpetuate tension and create more opportunity for hurt feelings. And hey, maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. I suspect I am not, but if I am, I'm okay with that, too.

Red_ruby

Hmm, I just stumbled across these responses - had this on a tab in my browser that I didn't know was there! Maybe that's fate telling me something, like I should reply? ;-)

anyway, reading the entries which have popped up since I last visited, I'll say that I've learned something from this, and am thinking of the netfriending/social networks in a new light. Okay probably not entirely new but nuanced. Not the defriending/not networking but how it is done. I'm definitely in the "a short polite note" camp, rather than "say nothing" camp. I think it's entirely possible to acknowledge that people/friendships drift apart without dropping the social nicety, especially if there's the possibility of one person not realising the other people's "not into you" to borrow from a dating phrase... ;-)

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