Facebook Dos and Don’ts: Friend? Defriend? Ignore?
Monday, January 31, 2011
10 Facebook etiquette don'ts
Don't spam photos of your debauched weekend. Future employers don't need to know that your proudest moments are when you're sloshing down margaritas—nor do your ex-lovers.
Don't send game requests; nobody wants to see your digital herd of sheep.
Don't unfriend, unless you have a valid reason; instead hide the person from your news feed.
Don't tell someone you're defriending him. Just do it.
Don't poke unless you're willing to flirt back.
Don't hack anyone's Facebook page.
Don't annoy your “friends” with news feeds that assault their self-esteem, looks, or state of mind. That includes these topics: miracle diets; wrinkle and hemorrhoid creams; acne, early baldness, and erectile dysfunction treatments; anything to do with cults or religion; tags and info about your 30th birthday party that we “friends” weren't invited to.
Don't break up on Facebook.
Don't use swear words on Facebook because a potential employer might take offense.
Don't feel guilty about ignoring a "friend" request.
One all-important do
Do defriend with good reason.
Here's why: Most former lovers break up in person or over the phone and furthermore, the one doing the breaking up usually comes clean: you have too much debt; I can't stand your friends; you work too hard and don't have time for me; you drink too much; sex isn't working; you don't respect me; you promised to stop smoking; I'm done because you've had a year to propose and you haven't. We have a far greater love hate relationship with the defriend feature on Facebook.
We want friends, but the “right” friends. It is no longer about how many, it is all about who your friends are. The only person who I know defriended me was the poet Dr. Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and to this day I don't know why. I don't even know her. That's my point. Apparently, according to Dunbar's Number (a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of friends with whom one can maintain an on-going social relationship), a person can only successfully manage 150 friendships. The question is, what do you do when you've made a new best friend? Whom do you purge from your list of 150? How do you tell him? You don't and hope he doesn't notice you've hidden him, or worse—defriended him.
The hip way to defriend
Defriending is a silly, dastrardly, chicken-hearted way to purge someone from your Facebook list of friends, so you must have a very good reason. It would have been kinder if Dr. Maya Angelou had ignored my friend request, rather than dump me—defriend me—having never talked to me, nor met me. What we didn't know at the start of Facebook is that the quality of your friendship is more important then the quantity. At first it seemed as though it was a competition to see who could gather aboard the most friends. Then it became: Must I respond to every daily photo of my friend's newborn? Pet tricks that aren't funny? Do you really want your colleagues to watch your high school classmate's YouTube video of him doing an eyeball vodka shot? What does that say about you? Hide her news feeds, don't defriend—or should I say, don't deface her! The exception to the 150, of course, is if you use Facebook to promote your work, your business—which is what my daughter does with 1,309 Facebook "friends."
The question is: Whose news feed do you hide? Whose friend request to you ignore? Whom do you defriend? It's like grade school, who don't you want sitting at your lunch table? A cautionary note: It is far better to ignore a friend request then to have to later on make the mean decision to defriend.
Didi Lorillard is an etiquette consultant on modern manners. The topic of Facebook defriending is frequently asked on her Web site NewportManners.com. Although, she doesn't feel as though she is an expert on matters about Facebook, she does know the importance of addressing this growing concern.
- Modern Manners: Texting at the Table
- Modern Manners: Thank-You Notes
- Business Etiquette & Manners: Job Interviews
- Netiquette: Emoticons and Real Smiles
- Jetiquette: Dos and Don’ts of Air Travel