Nostalgic for Facebook

I remember walking around campus my freshman year of college, and hearing everyone talk about this new thing called “Facebook.” Eventually I jumped on board and found that Facebook was everything MySpace wasn’t. At that time only college students could sign-up for Facebook, so there were no annoying bands trying to get you to buy their CD’s and no creepy 40-year-old men wanting to be your friend. There weren’t any corporate fan pages or groups. It was simply a place where you could hang out online with your friends. Everything was authentic.

Today, Facebook has evolved to include many things I once praised it for not having, but I have evolved too. I like that I can keep my account even though I’m not in college, and I like that my friends and family can join the hip social networking site with me. The corporate fan pages and groups are so-so. On a personal level I sometimes wish they didn’t exist, but given my profession I can’t hate them entirely. After all, if used correctly they can bring a lot of value to their “fans” or “groupies.”

However, with all this evolution I do have one complaint. You see, when I was in college the only people who “friended” me were those I had actually met. Even if I hadn’t talked to someone since high school there was still a connection. We shared an AP European History class or we were both in Concert Choir. You did not “friend” someone you never met, and you certainly did not friend someone just because you ran in the same circles. Facebook was a place to talk with your current friends, not a place to make new ones.

Somehow, there has been a shift, and these unspoken rules of my past have not translated to the Facebook of today. Lately, it seems like every week I get a friend request from someone I’ve never heard of. Sometimes I let them hang there and others I ignore right away. I am always puzzled when after ignoring a friend request someone decides to try again. I wish I knew what they were thinking. Do they think the request did not work? That I happened to not notice? That I was having a bad day, and I’m sure to accept them this time? Or, do they think that by badgering me I will eventually accept them into my circle?

Let me clear something up for these people right now. I ignored your request for a reason. Over time I’ve given in to some of my Facebook rules. I will accept friend requests from co-workers even if we aren’t really “friends” outside of work. I’ve started to monitor what I say and do on Facebook for professional and personal reasons. But the one thing I am not willing to do, is invite someone into my inner circle who I’ve never met!

Now, I realize that everyone uses social networking tools in different ways. That’s fine, but I believe the majority of Facebook users still use Facebook as a personal online playground. It’s a place to talk to friends, play games, create events and post photos. If you are using Facebook for business purposes, that’s great. Create a fan page or a group. If you are using Facebook to network with new people, cancel your account and join LinkedIn, Twitter or another social networking site where it’s appropriate to talk to strangers.

Maybe I’m trying to hold onto the past. Maybe I’m just upset that things can never be the way they were, but you know where I stand. If we haven’t met and you want to connect with me online, seek out my LinkedIn or Twitter accounts. It’s not that I don’t like or trust you. You just haven’t made it to my inner circle yet.


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