Why I'm not accepting your friend request

May 11, 2010 at 7:38am

(Well, not yours in particular. I like you just fine. It's that guy to the right of you I have my doubts about.)

There are friends you'll take to lunch when your employer's paying, and there are friends for whom you'll cook dinner in your own home. But that distinction often gets lost in a social network's all-purpose "Add As Friend" command. So I thought I'd explain how I decide whether to accept a friend request, decline it, or do the passive-aggressive thing and pretend I didn't see it.

Facebook:
Call me old-fashioned, but I need to have met and communicated with you, even if only by phone or e-mail, before I accept a friend request. And if we've only connected once or twice, you're only going to see some of my profile--I have a friends list named "Met once or twice" for this purpose. Why so persnickety? Beyond the privacy implications, accepting every random friend request would soon have my News Feed overrun with irrelevant trivia, and I'd be as grumpy about Facebook as Gene Weingarten. I suppose I could accept requests from people I don't know but then keep them from seeing my updates while I hide their updates from my News Feed, but what would be the point of that?

Foursquare:
Not that I think I'm especially stalk-worthy, but it can be pretty easy to stalk me on this site. So I feel that I need to know your cell phone or your home address before I'll give you that sort of access. Besides, if we've never met, what possible interest could you have in where I go to dinner or buy groceries? It's not like I'd be particularly interested in your whereabouts either.

LinkedIn:
I hardly ever update my LinkedIn page--it's basically a billboard for my C.V.--so I'm not too picky about who gets to see it. If we've met at some point or if you make up for that by writing an original invitation, I'll probably accept that request. But if we've never connected before and the only greeting you can offer is "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn"... well, that's not a very convincing pitch, is it?

Plaxo:
Forget it. I stopped actively using this years ago--between the memory of Plaxo spam and the limited value added by the Plaxo Pulse social network, this wasn't worth the time. I only keep an account open here for test purposes.

MySpace:
About the same here--I only log in every month or so to make sure my page hasn't been hacked. (Note: That's not an invitation to try hacking it yourself.)

So now that I've exposed what an elitist snob I am, can I ask how you make these decisions?