Do you ever get "friended" on Facebook by someone you’ve never met? By someone you’ve never, ever heard of?
I’ll get an alert from Facebook stating that "Smedly Q. Armbrister would like to friend me." Huh? Who the hell is Smedly Q. Armbrister, and why does he want to be my friend?
I’ve received quite a few friend requests from perfect strangers like Smedly. These people not only want to connect with me but, in doing so, want to connect me with their friends, who also happen to be perfect strangers. Great. Just what I need, virtual friendships with people I don’t know and don’t want to know.
These friend requests are always accompanied by photos of the strangers. Some are happily sailing in their boat. Others are completing a 10k race. Then, there’s the woman holding a cat in her arms. That one always freaks me out a bit. Call me anti-social, but I’m just not into sharing Kodak moments with people I don’t know.
Could you imagine this happening in the "real" world? A woman carrying a cat and stroking its fur walks up to you and says, "Hi, I’m Sally G. Renquist and I’d like to be your friend." Oh baby, get out of my way, because I’m going to be setting a new world record for the 100-meter dash.
So, why do we practice behavior in the digital world that we’d never, ever consider doing in the real one? I’m sure it’s all about networking. But, networking first requires an introduction of some sort. One doesn’t network by walking up to a complete stranger and saying, "Hi, let’s be friends. Can you help me get a job?"
Facebook, LinkedIn and their ilk are pretty cool ways to connect, re-connect and network with people you know. But, I’m just not connecting without a prior introduction. It’s kind of like John McCain’s refusal to meet with the leaders of rogue nations without conditions.
So, here’s a quick piece of advice to all the Janes, Sallys, Dicks and Toms that I don’t know. Save us both some time and friend someone you actually know.