Friends Aren’t What They Used to Be: A Facebook Folly
Posted on January 14, 2009
Filed Under General
When my daughter — who just crossed over into teenager territory — asked me how many friends I had, I was reminded of how things have changed. Surely I have less friends, now that I am in my fourth decade. Yet by her definition I actually have more friends than ever. Just a second ago I confirmed that I was friends with someone who I didn’t even know. Friendship is a wonderful thing. I plan to “un-friend” her just as I have “un-friended” many others who have entered my social network online and who, just like with my “real” friends, I really don’t need to know that they’re running to Starbucks to get a latte or that their dog just got his shots. By the way, I have been de-friended a few times online and it doesn’t feel so good.
I am a communicator at heart, and as the publisher of PR News, I advocate for honest, open and intelligent dialogue with the public. But I am hearing from PR people that Facebook in particular has been both a blessing and curse. Corporate PR Directors are now friends with their direct reports. Agency heads are friending clients. A media relations director at a nonprofit told me she just defriended her whole staff on Facebook because she “just didn’t want to see it all.”
So, it’s open for debate whether Facebook is good for us as business people. We know it’s not good for (or to) nursing moms, yet we know it’s fun and usually harmless to connect with old friends and classmates. And for industry colleagues, it’s great to have them as friends now, since it’s harder to connect in person these days.
But I would advise to think twice next time an employee of yours asks to be friends with you on Facebook. Your relationship will take on a different nuance. Which brings me back to my daughter who asked if I wanted to be “friends” with her on Facebook. We agreed that would not be a good idea, as I just don’t want to know it all. But she did give me her password to check in on her time and again.
What has been your “work” experience with Facebook? It’s time for some friendly discourse…
- Diane Schwartz