Facebook Friends Forever, or at least until I ‘un-friend’ you

Part one : The Awkward Friend Request

I was recently called out for ‘un-friending’ someone on Facebook. The person in question sent me a brash message asking why I had removed them and ended with “don’t worry about it eh”. Well, I did worry about it, for a good 10 minutes or so whilst composing my response. My guilt came to an abrupt end with the realisation that I had never wanted to friend them in the first place. This got me thinking, why do we feel the need to accept every friend request we receive and what exactly is the etiquette (if any), for un-friending?

Everyone is different but if you’re anything like me Facebook is your inner sanctum of friends, photos and controversial status updates. My security settings reflect those of Fort Knox and if I don’t really know you then I don’t really want you there.

In this particular instance I had met the person twice before and never saw them socially. We fanned a common page and there ended our similarities. One day out of the blue, like rocking up to my house warming uninvited, they sent me a friend request and I felt obliged to let them in.

So why did I accept? Well,  I felt I had to. Troubling in itself admittedly, but what is even more bothersome is that this person (and many others like them), felt it appropriate to send the request in the first place.

It’s like someone standing a little too close to you when you’re reading your emails at an internet cafe or breathing down your neck at the ATM – the boundaries of personal space and privacy are fast dissolving.

People aren’t content with the arm’s length get to know you approach of “What’s your email? It’d be great to arrange a catch up” or “Give me your number and I’ll arrange breakfast”. Now, it is a case of “ Hi I know you don’t know me from Adam, but I’ll friend you on Facebook all the same, get unprecedented access to your personal life, satisfy my inner voyeur, form opinions without context and be your ‘friend’ without really investing in a real life friendship”.

Most of us have accepted an awkward friend request only to cull the person at a later date; no one wants to offend the requestor at the time. Well, I say enough! I say it’s ok to hit the “not now” button and simply “DELETE”. I wouldn’t invite someone I’d just met into my lounge room to go through family albums and listen to a download of my life’s story, so why should I do the virtual equivalent and grant them access to my Facebook profile?

So please, if I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know the “offline you” then don’t be offended if I flatly refuse to accept your online friend request after meeting you at the coffee shop five minutes ago and simply asking you to pass me an Equal.

How do you handle awkward friend requests?