With the rise of social media, it has become increasingly difficult to cement rules around social interactions and the inherent intricacies of usage.
Many people are connected to multiple social networks. Having taken the plunge with MySpace (before it needed space), we then continued on the path to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. For over a decade, we have liked, shared, tweeted, swiped and snapped. The new version of popularity in the playground went from how many were in your clique to attempting to be the first to hit triple digits in “friends”.
Some, have created accounts for pets; why shouldn’t your dog have a Facebook profile. Cats are good with computers – they love to chase a mouse. Yet it is with this very practice and quest to grow our networks, that the issues arise.
Am I obligated to include everyone who sends me a friends request? Where should I draw the line? Personally, I like to keep my friends list rather intimate and it is generally composed of family members with the occasional old school friend, family friends, former colleagues and writing buddies thrown into the mix.
I don’t know about you, but I always feel a sense of dread whenever I see a new notification for a friend request. If it is someone you work with, you don’t want them to have an insight into your personal life (especially if you usually restrict your interactions to a friendly nod while in the lunch room). If it is someone from a million years ago at school, I tend to wonder if I am even thinking of the correct person. Were we friends? Was she/ he the one that started that rumour about me, or hid my textbook? All of these can make me pretty uncomfortable yet nothing meets the levels of discomfort I face when blindsided by a friend request from…family.
Just the word sends shivers down my spine. Family – a collection of people you are supposedly related to (given that attempts to prove you are in fact adopted and actually belong in a nice, normal family have thus far proven futile) and are forced to pretend to like. I like being an honest person for the most part, I think I am an excellent bullshit artiste, and I find dealing with family to be absolutely exhausting. Sure, quite a few of them are lovely people who I actually have a few minor things in common with however for the most part, they are just LOUD.
Should I be forced to withstand them shouting at me, not just during family gatherings but also via chat? As someone who works in the digital space, I am considered “good with computers” and will get asked time and again to help someone create a profile, like or comment on something or come up with a catchy username which is usually some horrible pun or a nickname for themselves that they have just invented and think is super cute. I have to force myself not to roll my eyes too loudly whenever I get shared a post that originated from me. Yes, Mum I did see that cute elephant video, look at who liked it and sent it catapulting into your newsfeed before you tag me in it.
Am I cursed to have to send a friendly “like” because my second cousins, dog walkers hairdresser just won a selfie contest and needs to be praised publicly for her astounding resemblance to an electrocuted duck?
Ignoring a friend request is like stepping into a minefield. Tip toeing through family reunions, BBQ’s and christenings while hoping nobody whips out the phone or brings up the fact that they sent you a friend request weeks / months / years ago and you haven’t responded.
“Umm… I use it for work.”
“Uh…. did you? I never received it. Are you sure? I didn’t think you were on Facebook?!”
‘”Oh, that must have been to my old profile. Yes, I had to create a new one after that crazy dude dressed like a giraffe started stalking me. I would love to tell you my new profile name but witness protection has been spoken of so it may be tricky…”
Sweat drips down my back and I begin to consider joining a commune where technology is outlawed and a turnip is worshipped as God. Surely that group exists somewhere.
For now, I shall persevere and continue my hazardous trek through the mines. If anyone has any ideas on how to handle this, that doesn’t involve faking my own death (although if Mum’s cousin tags me in one more post about a hideous dress that I should buy, I may consider it), let me know.