No, I'm not going to be your Facebook friend

I think that part of SXSW now is just that we’re getting pitched so many companies that those of us in the business of trying to keep up are falling apart. MG Siegler shows strains in his post titled “the App Wall” where he says he’s getting tired of trying new apps.

Me, I’m hitting that with all the social networks and all the menial tasks you have to do to keep them up to date. Adding friends, approving requests, etc etc.

So, no, I won’t be your friend on Facebook. I’m turning down even people I’ve met and usually would like in my social graph. I’ve had enough.

Plus, most people just don’t give you a hint as to why they should be in my social graph. Why? Cause I met you one time? Cause you follow me on Twitter?

So, here’s some helpful things.

1. Explain how we know each other.
2. Explain some value you’ll provide to me if I friend you.
3. Explain ANYTHING, really.
4. Put YOUR social graph and wall into public view so I can get some sense of who you are (most people have turned all privacy on, in most cases on Facebook that’s a major mistake cause it keeps people like me from adding you or, even, learning anything about you).
5. Put a profile picture I can recognize up.
6. Don’t remind me you went to high school with me or that you were that bully who taped my brother to a tree. :-)

Anyway, is anyone else tired of getting these kinds of social network requests?

I do have a public page, by the way, which I’d appreciate you subscribing to.

Comments

  1. It’s only going to get worse with this whole FB commenting gig. Good news is when you reach 4000 ish friends, folk aren’t allowed to request you ;)

  2. It’s only going to get worse with this whole FB commenting gig. Good news is when you reach 4000 ish friends, folk aren’t allowed to request you ;)

  3. Does anyone really use Facebook for sharing with just “friends” anymore? Thinking about who to friend and not friend and the social ramifications of no’s and all that is just too much work. So I just accept all requests on FB and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the rolodex of professional contacts that I don’t have to maintain anymore. FB is the christmas card list (the mother of all christmas card lists…) I don’t have to maintain anymore. FB and LI mean that I don’t ever need to worry about being able to get in touch with someone I’ve ever met, ever again. FB and LI have killed Contacts for me…which I love.

    “How I learned to stop worrying and love the Zuck”

  4. Does anyone really use Facebook for sharing with just “friends” anymore? Thinking about who to friend and not friend and the social ramifications of no’s and all that is just too much work. So I just accept all requests on FB and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the rolodex of professional contacts that I don’t have to maintain anymore. FB is the christmas card list (the mother of all christmas card lists…) I don’t have to maintain anymore. FB and LI mean that I don’t ever need to worry about being able to get in touch with someone I’ve ever met, ever again. FB and LI have killed Contacts for me…which I love.

    “How I learned to stop worrying and love the Zuck”

    1. I’ve been using Gist to solve this. Aggregates info, feeds, fb, twitter, LI, etc. And updates for me. Pure bliss. And yes, I also have SM fatigue…

      Leslie
      Iphso.com

    2. I’ve been using Gist too. For awhile I was confused about the difference between Gist as a Rapportive-alternative versus Gist the text accompaniment to social coding on Github. Leslie and I are referring to Gist the Rapportive-alternative. It IS quite useful as an aggregator. I use it within Gmail, but one doesn’t need to do so.

  5. Your post is so timely, I was just wishing to simplify my life with regard to the social apps that I use – and how to choose and how to turn down the noise of my social media conversations.

  6. Robert, you are quite a prodigious consumer of new tech. I’ve always wondered how you were able to keep up with it. I look at my boys, and they have become quite adroit at the new and evolving tech that can influence how they work with media. Perhaps it is just the course of human events that the next wave of innovation will need to be tracked by others that are less encumbered?

  7. Absolutely. I get these kinds of requests all the time my man. I deny all of them. Just because you are a brewer of beer, or know me on twitter, or have watched BeerTapTV, or join on the live stream every week, or…. Yeah, you get it, you don’t get in just for that. provide me some reason we should be connected on facebook. it is where I share my most personal details about family, etc.

  8. And yes, Robert, I too am tired of getting FB requests which don’t include any discoverable context from which I should remember that person. However, there’s another side to the coin, which has to do with FB constantly changing how stuff works. The most recent time I sent a friend request to anyone, the link for adding a personal text message was just flat-out missing. I even posted a rant status about it, and it was back an hour later. (Coincidence, I’m sure; not that many people follow me) It’s my opinion that FB should learn from LI, and *require* that you make [at least one] choice from a checklist list of possible contexts the person might remember you from.

  9. Hey, if you make your living writing about trivial apps and companies and the next great thing this morning which trumps the last great thing yesterday afternoon, you are going to get a lot of trivial requests. Just sack up.

  10. exactly why i’ve NEVER subscribed toa nay of those site. who has time for such menial tasks?

  11. Why does someone have to write an explanation to be your friend? Why do they have to remind you who they are and why they are important? If they are your friend, then no explanation is needed.

    As far as i’m concerned, if an explanation is needed, that person simply isn’t your friend.

    1. Because “friends” aren’t “friends” online. I add people to my Facebook social graph that aren’t real-life friends. Hell, if I only added my real-life friends I’d only have three or four people in my social graph. ;-)

      1. Then why don’t you do that, Robert. I applaud your coming to the conclusions you have. Even so, perhaps others have come to similar conclusions very early on and adjusted their use of social media to a usable engagement level and now you may appreciate why they did early on. That said, you are a very well known personage in the social media and tech world and at some point early on, didn’t you encourage the engagement somewhat? If so, and (only you would be able to answer that in your heart), how were those who felt the engagement to know when to stop?

  12. I went through a phase early on with Facebook where I just added everybody who would send a friend request. There are so many downsides to doing that, since you constantly get spammed.

    A few weeks ago I started removing people, and sorting the remainder into groups. Was talking to a friend about doing a simple application that will go through your Facebook and automatically group your contacts based on if you have ever had an interaction with them, or how often you have interacted with them.

    The Facebook API doesn’t let you delete friends, so this would be the closest you could get to a ‘cleanup’ app. You could immediately restrict the access rights users in that group have – but Facebook makes it difficult to do much more of a cleanup since you have to click on each one individually an unfriend them.

    Anybody who has 600+ friends/contacts could probably use a cleanup

  13. you wrote this at March 5, which was my birthday.. you didn’t send me birthday wishes and I couldn’t invite you to the blast because I am not your friend on facebook.. J/K
    Anyhow, I will meet you someday, somewhere… :D

  14. One thing I look at is see how many common ‘friends’ we have. If it’s over 50, then I’d likely add you. Outside of that, throw your criteria in there.

    Like you inferred Robert, people need to bring value to the table and relationship.

  15. I frequently get Facebook friend requests from total strangers who don’t bother to include a personal message saying who they are or why we should be friends. For the most part I won’t friend these people. In the past day or so I’ve noticed a small number of folks in my news feed and have no idea who they are or why they’re there. I’ve started unfriending. Yes, I agree it’s tiresome. Isn’t it just common courtesy to include a short note about why someone should be friends with you? Apparently not. Drives me bonkers.

  16. Amen. Oh, and will you be my Facebook friend? Heh.

    This weariness is also showing up in the corporate environment. A very common request is, OK we get it, but can you just DO it for us? People are tired of the minutae, the relentless stream and the volume of change.

    Thanks Robert.

  17. Limit it to real friends. Keep facebook only about personal friends.

    Kill Twitter. It’s a time sucking waste of reality that normal people NEVER use in a productive fashion besides spreading links. Pay some firm to follow everyone and spread your links to others trying to spread their links and move on.

  18. Pick your places to share/network and pick your places to socialize – but they can be different for different platforms or mediums. You do not necessarily have to be open to the world on all, IMO. I use FB for family only (not that I would have a ton of friends if I wanted to – but I could easily go over 100 quickly).

  19. No idea how you manage it all; I burn the candle at both ends just for one industry, yet you keep your finger on the pulse at such a broad level.

    Efficiency tools are where it’s at…

  20. You are ahead of the curve. I am ready to quit too but won’t. Too many new and old friends alike. Sadly stuck.

  21. You don’t want to be my facebook friend? Actually, that’s just fine with me. No, not because of something you’ve done or said, but because I’m not all about “collecting” facebook friends like it seems some people are. See also Twitter followers. Though, not for this comment, but I would argue that Twitter and Facebook social graphs are 2 very opposite things.

    I do like your idea of having some simple questions to tell me who you are when you’re trying to friend me on Facebook. I, admittedly, have too many people from college or high school added. And a lot of them I look at and go “how do I know this person again?” Or the fact that I still have old co-workers, who probably aren’t benefitial to have in my facebook network, still friended just because I never got around to cleaning house. And of course, with facebook’s sorting algorithms, I only end up seeing content from about 10-15 “regulars” on my wall. (And yes, I’m aware of the “most recent” option, and do view that often.)

    And just for fun, here’s my answers to your questions….
    1. Explain how we know each other.

    Uh. I think we’ve traded comments, maybe e-mails on the internet a few times.

    2. Explain some value you’ll provide to me if I friend you.

    Diversification of opinions, maybe?

    3. Explain ANYTHING, really.

    Anything is hard to explain. Being a meta concept, anything really is everything. And it would take more than 140 or 420 characters to explain everything. Now if you’d like to pick a topic…

    4. Put YOUR social graph and wall into public view so I can get some sense of who you are

    I have facebook mostly locked down because of my job. However, I keep my twitter, @chernowa, wide open. And really, I don’t have much to hide. Though, too much opinion might go the wrong way, even though I make it clear that anything published on my wall is my opinion.

    5. Put a profile picture I can recognize up.

    I have one up. It’s me running the OverDrive system. A really awesome photographer friend/co-worker took it for me. Seriously, she does good work. I hate having my picture taken but I let her take a bunch of me. Partly because I needed a new profile picture. My old one was me Directing & Technical Directing a newscast.

    If you actually want to see it: http://www.facebook.com/chernow

    6. Don’t remind me you went to high school with me or that you were that bully who taped my brother to a tree.

    Phew! Safe here. I didn’t go to high school nor did I tape your brother to a tree. Hell, I was the one who was most likely to be taped to the tree. Damn bullies.

    So there. 6 reasons not to friend me, I guess.

  22. On FB, if I don’t know you, if I don’t have a clue as to who you are, and unless you’re someone like…well like Scoble who will make my life more interesting, then we simply admit that we’re not buds.

    As for Twitter, because the noise is crowding out the news and some of the stuff on Twitter is pretty interesting, I’m unfollowing as fast as I once followed.

    In both areas, it’s getting to the point that a graphical aggregator is needed to follow the trends of the posts. Or maybe a bot iOS app to summarize what’s going on…

  23. Robert, you don’t need to brush off many you have just met. I don’t know how good you are with memory but you will realise that you might meet very interesting people at events like MWC and they will be many.

    Don’t behave like you need no more friend

    1. There’s a mental limit to the amount of people you can be FRIENDS with. I have that limit too; after a certain amount I don’t NEED any more friends. Acquaintances: sure. Friends; not as much. The people closest to me in my inner circle are the most important.

  24. I agree with Robert. Public figures, if they’re on facebook, should have both a more private profile to connect with people they know, and a public page, where fans can “like” and follow. That way they won’t have a a cluttered stream of complete strangers complaining about the weekend not being 2 days away.

    Oh, and Robert, I don’t follow you on twitter cuz you tweet too much :-)

  25. Facebook should have long ago allowed, like Twitter, for personal and business accounts with different walls and newsfeeds.

    It’s not rocket science.

    One shouldn’t go beyond 140 friends for the personal account. I am at 118 now.

    The one addition per week is usually someone that knew me in real life or is best friends or related to someone who knows me. It’s the opposite of Twitter where I get dozens of follows per day.

    On Facebook it is a big deal for an old friend to want to connect. This is happening at a rate of twice per week now and it’s just great. Facebook is making a difference in people’s lives that way.

    It’s less fun when a stranger wants to connect to a personal Facebook page, but I might connect if they explain themselves and already have their wall open to public view (like Robert said above).

    Here is a hint: on FB, some IT thought-leaders have thousands of friends so others are less shy about asking to connect. Those of us with less than 200 friends are approached less often because people can see that it’s just a family thing.

  26. Is this why you’re not following me on Twitter, even though I really want you to? We don’t know each other yet. I have a lot to offer as an entertaining individual. I can explain the plot of LOST. My social graph is very public. You can always Google me.