Whenever I get a friends request over a social networking site, the first thing I ask is, “Do I actually know this person outside of the context of the internet?” Most of the time the answer will be yes, I met this person while hanging out with so and so, or at some party, or through a mean trick I played an another friend. When that question gets properly satisfied I’ll go ahead and friend this person back. Most of the times it’s from folks that we’ve met in passing in real life, who found me interesting and want to create a stronger connection, which I think is great.
I started doing this over 5 or 6 years ago. Before then my ICQ buddy list was over 300 contacts deep. Most I had some contact with, about something, maybe due to a Team Fortress clan or web design of some sort. But there was no sort of connection, just a passing of sorts. Around 10 to 20 of those 300 I actually got to know in real life, not behind the glowing box.
Since then I elected to do what I described initially. Ask myself if I know this person. And so far it’s worked well. As it turns out for me, people I meet in real life I have a better, longer lasting bond with, then folks online that show up in passing. To sum it up, I use social networks of different flavors to socialize with others I know, not to find those I don’t.
All this brings me to a short communication I had over Facebook in the past week. This chap friended me, and the name nor the user icon of a face drawn out with chalk looked anywhere near familiar…
Me: Do I know you, if not I don’t friend people I don’t know.
Chap: i dont think so. thats kinda sad though…how do you make new friends?
Me: I leave my computer to go outside and live my life.
I don’t know why I found this interacting so interestingly odd. As I sit here, reading his words, I’m only able to think of how sad his perspective on socializing is to me.
I should eat some food then go outside to play.