Author Topic: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?  (Read 6683 times)

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tsylvain

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Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« on: May 30, 2012, 11:27:27 AM »
I respect the fact that some people choose to keep their friend lists pared down, but to me it seems rude or at least a bit stingy to be extremely particular about accepting a new friend (especially one that you are friendly with IRL).  Now that Facebook allows people to group friends and to choose which groups see which updates, why do some users elect to reject well-meaning requests? I guess it could be argued that friend rejections are just part of the deal when you sign up to use Facebook and start extending yourself to others.  Still, I wonder if rejections of people you know can be borderline rude, especially when the rejected party is likely to see the person again IRL and then there will be hard feelings or at least awkwardness.     

I began thinking about this recently when I sent out a few friend requests to people I know from work who are mutual friends with many of my friends (also from work).  One or two responded right away, but I also had some surprises when some never did (and of course I assume this means they rejected me or clicked "ignore").  In the past, I have also been surprised after running into an old college friend and speaking to that person warmly at a conference to be ignored when I later sent a friend request (along with a PM that was never answered).  I know some Facebook users would like to keep their posts visible to only their closest friends and family, but as I mentioned, it's possible to do that anyway. 

Readers here will likely be wondering if I'm just an unpleasant person, but really, I'm not (I don't think that's the problem, anyway, and haven't had the impression that coworkers or others dislike me for some reason).  I know, I should move on and not worry about it, but since Facebook creates new etiquette situations, I wondered what e-hellions thought about the etiquette of rejection.  In my case, I've been pretty free and easy in accepting friends, rejecting only those who are strangers and deleting only a few offensive commenters.  I have hidden a lot of h.s. friends' feeds, though, as we no longer have much in common.  I don't have an excessive number of friends, either; there are currently 230 or so.  In other words, I'm not just adding people wildly.

Anyway, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this . . . :-\   Has anyone else been upset or puzzled by friend-request rejections?  If so, how did you handle seeing the person who rejected you (assuming you ever saw him or her IRL again)? Also, have any of you found ways of rejecting friend requests more politely than just by ignoring them?  (Or, maybe "politely" isn't the right word, since it's debatable whether it's impolite to reject potential friends, but how can the person doing the rejecting take the sting out?)     
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 11:31:38 AM by tsylvain »

Yvaine

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2012, 11:31:23 AM »
Some people have a strict policy of not being FB friends with anyone they know through work, which I can't really fault them for given some of the stories that have been in the news in recent years where people were fired due to FB status updates or photos someone tagged them in. In your shoes I'd try to not take it as a personal rejection, and instead tell myself that your work acquaintances just don't want you seeing pictures of them with a red Solo cup.  ;D

ETA: and, yes, there are privacy settings, but I and many others don't trust them any farther than we can throw them. Every time FB is updated, the privacy settings get all wonked up and we have to reset them, and potentially embarrassing material can leak in the interim.

tsylvain

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2012, 11:38:53 AM »
I wouldn't worry so much if the coworkers who rejected me weren't already friends with other coworkers.  In other words, those rejecting my requests apparently didn't have a no-friends-from-work-allowed policy.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 11:41:37 AM by tsylvain »

Judah

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2012, 11:45:47 AM »
Everybody uses Facebook differently.  I use it to keep in touch with people I'm emotionally close to, but physically distant and I never friend coworkers. So, I have about 50 friends.  I've declined every friend request I've received from people I don't know, mere acquaintances, old high school/college friends I haven't kept in touch with, family members I don't like, and those I don't want to see on Facebook with no qualms because friending or not friending is not an etiquette issue, it's an issue of personal preference. I guess I don't understand why Facebook is such an emotional thing for some people. It's just a tool and we all use it for our own reasons.
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Yvaine

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 11:48:24 AM »
I wouldn't worry so much if the coworkers who rejected me weren't already friends with other coworkers.  In other words, those rejecting my requests apparently didn't have a no-friends-from-work-allowed policy.

They may have known these other people from before they worked together (for example, I used to have a "work friend" whom I'd actually known for about three years before we started working at the same place) or maybe they've just known each other so long that the work-awkwardness is gone. Or they may just not go on FB much and haven't seen your requests or messages yet.

Anyway, in response to your question about taking the sting out, I can't think of a politer way to reject friend requests except just quietly ignoring them, unless it is a general policy that you can explain, as in: "I don't FB friend anyone from work, but I have a LinkedIn account (or whatever)" or "Sorry, I'm hardly ever on here and I just use it to talk to my family, but you can email me anytime". But if you're rejecting someone because you just don't want to be FB friends with that particular person, I do think the quiet ignore is more polite than saying "I'm not going to be your FB friend because you annoy me."

CleverScreenName

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 11:58:13 AM »
I wouldn't worry so much if the coworkers who rejected me weren't already friends with other coworkers.  In other words, those rejecting my requests apparently didn't have a no-friends-from-work-allowed policy.

I have a co-worker on my friend list, I trust her, and we are truly friends. My other co-workers, there is no way I want them them on my friend list. I don't dislike them, I just don't feel the need to include them in my personal life.

Kaypeep

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 12:08:33 PM »
Rejecting friend requests in FB is not rude, IMO.  Nor is having a party IRL and not inviting everyone you know.  As long as people treat you well personally and/or professionally in real life, that is what matters most.  FB is an entity that millions use and enjoy for various reasons, in varying amounts.  Some of my closest friends are not on FB at all, or have accounts but don't use it.  I wouldn't discount their friendship anymore than someone on FB who I never see IRL but who comments and posts daily.  I don't think it's an etiquette issue at all.  Their page is their own and they have the right to limit or grant access.  You are not owed an explanation, either.  Simply put, you asked, they said no.  End of story.  You have to just accept it and move on.

Bibliophile

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 12:08:42 PM »
I think people are free to friend who they want to on FB.  They don't need to give an explanation.  It is not rude to exclude one person from your friends list while including everyone else.  If you run into that person again, you go about your business as if the request was never sent.

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tsylvain

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 12:12:01 PM »
Regarding Judah's comment:  "I guess I don't understand why Facebook is such an emotional thing for some people. It's just a tool and we all use it for our own reasons" --

Yes, it's just a tool, but I think the reason that people like me get their feelings hurt or at least are somewhat baffled is that there is an offer of friendship (okay, Facebook "friendship," but still) and that offer is quietly ignored.  That offer and rejection could influence real-life interactions afterwards or at least make the rejectee feel less warmly towards the person who rejected him or her. 

Thanks for all of your comments, though.  You're helping me to see that others don't attach as much meaning to these interactions (or intentional lack thereof) if they have worked out their own friend-accepting rules of thumb.  To me, though, even if these rejections are conducted on Facebook, they are still rejections.

Tilt Fairy

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 12:18:44 PM »
Different people just use Facebook differently. Some people just don't see it as a mirror image of their friendships in real life. Some people will be friends with people in real life without having them as their online friend on Facebook and vice versa. When I used to have Facebook, I didn't have any family members or distant family members as Facebook friends at all. Not my sister, my cousins, aunts, uncles, boyfriends sister, his parents etc... Even though I liked them, I wanted to be free from them knowing even the slightest thing about my life such as what my plans were, what my friends were like, racey/sexy/expletive or innuendo-heavy wall posts/status updates/photos etc.. I even rejected or deleted some of my best friends and even my own boyfriend as Facebook friends because they were a right pain on Facebook.

Basically, some people will just see Facebook for what it is, Facebook. To them it won't be a mirror or extension of their friendships in real life. A lot of people I know, only have extremely close friends on Facebook. You'd be their friend in real life but to socialise with online, they'd just like really really close friends.

Also, don't forget, Facebook has two primary purposes 1)To socialise and interact and 2) To share/put info about you on there.
A lot of people might be happy to interact and socialise with online with a whole range of different levels of friendships -from their best friend to coworkers, to someone they've only met twice. But for the other Facebook reason - to share things about themselves or the fact that people would be able to see posts,photos, likes, statuses etc.., they might have a stricter friend filter.

Not everyone who is happy to interact with all is happy to share with all. Someone might be happy to have you on Skype or MSN messenger as a friend but not as a Facebook friend. Not because they don't want to interact with you as a friend, but maybe because of the "one can see/find out anything about you" aspect of the Facebook profile, they'd prefer to only restrict that privilege to a select few. Of course there are settings to control this but people don't have to use them. They can reject people instead. Not reject them as a friend in the true sense of the word - but merely reject them as a Facebook friend only.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 12:21:05 PM by Tilt Fairy »

still in va

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 12:20:54 PM »
tsylvain,  it's obvious that this bothers you.  i'm not much into FB, so i really can't relate, but you feel what you feel.

however, i admit to being puzzled by one thing.  you stated that even though it's FB, it's an offer of friendship that is being rejected.  does that translate into real life in the same way for you?  if you want to be friends with someone, and they don't want to have the same level of friendship with you (prefers to be a casual acquaintance instead of a weekly lunch buddy), do you feel the same way? 

Fleur-de-Lis

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 12:22:29 PM »
I think a lot also depends on how much time the person in question *has* for Facebook or other social media. My primary time available for Facebook is limited to when I can catch signal during my commute. I also check it at work, sporadically.

Because I have a somewhat isolated life right now, I have quite a few friends on Facebook. But friends whose primary activity was making negative or snarky comments or playing endless Facebook games were quickly pared down.

Some people give too much minutiae, and also get pared.

For some people, the various forms of social media become an information overload - friends who see each other live and in person on a regular basis do not necessarily want to be all but connected at the hip and Facebook is a place where they have space from each other.
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Judah

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 12:24:17 PM »
Regarding Judah's comment:  "I guess I don't understand why Facebook is such an emotional thing for some people. It's just a tool and we all use it for our own reasons" --

Yes, it's just a tool, but I think the reason that people like me get their feelings hurt or at least are somewhat baffled is that there is an offer of friendship (okay, Facebook "friendship," but still) and that offer is quietly ignored.  That offer and rejection could influence real-life interactions afterwards or at least make the rejectee feel less warmly towards the person who rejected him or her. 

Thanks for all of your comments, though.  You're helping me to see that others don't attach as much meaning to these interactions (or intentional lack thereof) if they have worked out their own friend-accepting rules of thumb.  To me, though, even if these rejections are conducted on Facebook, they are still rejections.

I don't see a friend request on Facebook as an offer of friendship at all. "Let's get together for lunch next week", "I'm having a movie night at my house next Friday, you're welcome to come" are offers of friendship.  Facebook could go away tomorrow and my friendships wouldn't be altered at all.  What I'm trying to say is that for many of us Facebook is merely an easy method of keeping in touch, but it isn't a measure of how important someone is to us. 
Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one:
Subtle hints don't work.
Strong hints don't work.
Really obvious hints don't work.
Just say it!

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Tilt Fairy

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 12:25:11 PM »
I think a lot also depends on how much time the person in question *has* for Facebook or other social media. My primary time available for Facebook is limited to when I can catch signal during my commute. I also check it at work, sporadically.

Because I have a somewhat isolated life right now, I have quite a few friends on Facebook. But friends whose primary activity was making negative or snarky comments or playing endless Facebook games were quickly pared down.

Some people give too much minutiae, and also get pared.

For some people, the various forms of social media become an information overload - friends who see each other live and in person on a regular basis do not necessarily want to be all but connected at the hip and Facebook is a place where they have space from each other.

minutiae! What a great word!...I'm going to add it to my vocabulary now. It's a good descriptor!

SingActDance

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Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 12:30:19 PM »
I don't think you should read too much into it. If you truly want to be friends with these people IRL, invite them out to a gathering or party. Many people just don't attach that much emotion to Facebook friendships. For them it may just be  way to keep up with family photos or geographically distant friends.

As for me, I avoid being friend with people I work with. And if I receive friend request from someone I just happened to run into at a party but don't know that well, I'll admit to leaving them in "friend limbo" for awhile until I find out if this is going to be a real friend relationship. That way I avoid having a thousand friends who I met at a party/did a show with once/shared lunchtime in 4th grade.
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