In the last month, I have received five Facebook friend requests from boys I knew in high school. “Knew” is a strong word in this case, because they have all been people that I knew of — we didn’t hang out in the same groups, we didn’t speak more than once or twice a semester and I can’t say I’ve given any of them much thought since graduating six years ago.
Maybe it’s been long enough that those facts have faded beneath an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for these guys. Maybe those four interactions we had stuck with them all this time and they felt like I would be a worthy addition to their Facebook feed. Maybe my shirts have been too low-cut in my profile pictures. Whatever the reason, they’re hitting the “send request” button and leaving me to stare at my computer screen in confusion.
I don’t know what to do because I can’t really justify not adding them, but I also know that if I’d wanted their virtual friendship, I would have sought it in 2008. I turned to the social media coordinator at my local university for help.
Facebook Etiquette Revisited
Question 1. What do I do with this friend request from a girl I knew in high school/a co-worker I don’t know very well/a total stranger/a dude I went on two bad dates with and haven’t seen in more than a year?
Answer: Your Facebook friendship standards are entirely up to you. I know I’ve developed my own set of weird rules for accepting new friends and I’m sure you have, too. Maybe you’re a friend conservative, hoarding your love for a select few. Maybe you’re liberal with your affection, friending everyone you’ve ever laid eyes on. You adopted that policy because you were comfortable with it, and I’d stick with it now. If thinking of this person shivering outside the warm halls of your Facebook timeline and heart will keep you up at night, bring them on in. If you, like me, get a sick sense of pleasure from it, then by all means let them rot out there.
Question 2. What do I do if one of my friends is being a real poop head?
Answer: You have options! Remember that your Facebook feed is its own little world and you are the dictator. If one of your friends is writing obnoxious comments on all your posts, sharing photos supporting Neo-Nazism that you just can’t get behind, or repeatedly bumming everyone out with sad sack statuses, unfriend them. If you’re afraid to unfriend them because they are a blood relative, blood brother or have blood on their hands, block them. That way their precious feelings aren’t hurt and you never have to read about those feelings again.
Question 3. My friend tagged me in an unflattering photo. Should I burn her house down?
Answer: Probably not, but you may put a curse on her if you would like. My go-to curse is wishing that the waistband of my nemesis’ jeans never fully dries after a wash, no matter how long they wait. It was mean of your frenemy to tag you in an ugly picture, but you should also lighten up. Untagging yourself in silly photos can make you look self involved and like I probably wouldn’t invite you to my next party.
Question 4. This is insane, right? This new set of rules we live by so that we don’t offend anyone on social media, I mean. It’s crazy that we worry so much about this stuff.
Answer: It’s totally crazy pants, but human interaction is a tricky thing. Because of that, all methods of communication have an etiquette. We answer the phone a certain way, we write our work emails using a particular tone and we try to aim our smoke signals away from our companions’ eyes. Why start drama where there doesn’t need to be any?
Question 5. Can I Facebook stalk my partner’s ex?
Answer: I’m sure you can Facebook stalk your partner’s ex, but should you? (Yes. You should. Don’t you want to feel smug for no reason at all?)
Question 6. What about my ex’s partner?
Answer: Don’t do that. Nothing lies down that road but pain and unfortunate haircut decisions.
Question 7. How many cat pictures is too many?
Answer: Trick question. There are never enough.