Author Topic: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?  (Read 6808 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

artk2002

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12983
    • The Delian's Commonwealth
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2012, 12:36:58 PM »
It's not rude to decline to be friends in real life or on FB. This isn't an etiquette issue. You may be working under the assumption that etiquette exists to make people comfortable -- it doesn't. It's possible to be absolutely polite under etiquette and still make people uncomfortable.

There's no obligation to enter into a relationship with anyone. Look at some of the threads in the dating board about (mainly) women whose mothers have said "he asked you out, you owe it to him" even when the poster had no interest in the date. The mother's position that there's an obligation when someone asks is wrong. The same principle applies to FB. What's unfortunate is that while FB provides a quick and easy way of asking, it doesn't provide a gentle way of saying 'no thanks' other than ignoring. If there's any rudeness here, it's FB.

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. 

I agree. FB has corrupted the meaning of "friend" into something much broader. If they had named it "connection" it would be more accurate, but they depend on the emotional appeal of "friend" (something that we're seeing in action in this thread now.) Some FB connections are as deep as real-life friendships while many (most?) are not. I'm "friends" with a number of people who I'd probably never have lunch or go to a movie with. They're interesting people and I enjoy being connected to them, but they aren't friends by any stretch of the imagination. Because the definition of "friend" in FB is so broad, it's very easy for someone to get hurt -- if they put a "anybody I'm casually connected with" meaning while others put a "people I would be close friends with IRL" meaning on it, there's going to be a conflict.

One of the dangers of social media (and this goes back to chat rooms, Usenet and the like) is that it creates a false sense of intimacy. FB takes advantage of that -- it's their business model. The fact that people can feel hurt when they discover that the intimacy isn't real, doesn't enter into the business equation.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Tilt Fairy

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 632
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2012, 12:37:07 PM »
Do you know what? I think if the "reject friendship" button on Facebook was replaced by some other wording, people wouldn't see it so much as a rejection so much even though it would have the same effect! Maybe if Facebook had a "prefer not to have as Facebook friend button" or "we're not quite there yet" or "nahh real life is better for this one!" instead of "reject friend request", more people wouldn't be upset! Like people like the OP, I think its the rejection part of the friendship that's upsetting. It's like they feel 'rejected' in real life.

I don't have Facebook. Life is heaven. I can live in blissful ignorance and anonymity! I do get forgotten about a lot though and I'm not sure people even remember what I look like. That's probably a blessing for them though to be fair. I aint no oil painting.

tsylvain

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2012, 12:38:47 PM »
Re:  Still in VA's comment:  "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?" 

I haven't really experienced the equivalent of a Facebook rejection with friends in real life.  At least no instances of me seeking a closer level of friendship than the other person comes to mind.

When I wrote that there is an offer of friendship (of Facebook "friendship"), I was acknowledging the difference between the Facebook version and real-life friendship.  I guess what I'm trying to get across is that there is still a reaching out to the other person in that I'm expressing an interest in reading their posts, finding out a bit more about them (whatever they want to share), and am generally acting friendly towards them - at least enough to want to interact with them online.  This I hope doesn't come across as desperation on my part for new Facebook friends.  I guess I was just curious how others have dealt with friend-request rejections.   

still in va

  • used to be gjcva1
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3517
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 12:47:40 PM »
Re:  Still in VA's comment:  "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?" 

I haven't really experienced the equivalent of a Facebook rejection with friends in real life.  At least no instances of me seeking a closer level of friendship than the other person comes to mind.

When I wrote that there is an offer of friendship (of Facebook "friendship"), I was acknowledging the difference between the Facebook version and real-life friendship.  I guess what I'm trying to get across is that there is still a reaching out to the other person in that I'm expressing an interest in reading their posts, finding out a bit more about them (whatever they want to share), and am generally acting friendly towards them - at least enough to want to interact with them online.  This I hope doesn't come across as desperation on my part for new Facebook friends.  I guess I was just curious how others have dealt with friend-request rejections.   

you explained it perfectly.  and i deal with it in a very matter-of-fact manner.  i feel that their page is their page, to use as they wish.  if someone doesn't want to accept my friendship request, i'm fine with that.  honestly, i'd rather be out-right "rejected" than accepted and then added to some list that severely limits what i can see.


tsylvain

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2012, 12:50:15 PM »
Thanks, artk2002, your post is really enlightening.  I agree with you that the way Facebook is set up (the language used, the process of adding friends, etc.) increases the likelihood of these kinds of different interpretations and possible hurt feelings.  Regarding your point about etiquette not necessarily being about making the other person feel comfortable, I wanted to mention that I used to read the Times (London) etiquette column pretty regularly online, and I remember the columnist there writing several times that making others feel comfortable IS the aim of etiquette.  Etiquette is meant to smooth over problems by providing a way of behaving that lessens hurt feelings, awkwardness, etc.  I'll see if I can find a link or quote to post from that columnist (whose name I've forgotten).  Anyway, thanks again for your insightful post. 

Rivaini

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 807
  • Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.
    • Keto Kitchen
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2012, 12:53:38 PM »
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.

Exactly this.

And really, the second I start to feel obligated to "friend" someone from any circle, social, work, or otherwise, is the second I dump Facebook altogether. On a related note, I really wish that Facebook had called the "friending" something more accurate like, "connecting".

I choose who my friends are. Just because someone can find me on Facebook and send me a request, does not automatically make them my friend, and it certainly doesn't mean they automatically get access to my private life. I know there are groups but I choose not to bother with them, and I really shouldn't have to just because someone thinks they have a right to my "friendship".
Err on the side of awesome.

NorCal

MasterofSquirrels

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1963
  • hi.
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2012, 12:53:49 PM »
This is what I do.
If I want you as a FB friend, you get "friend" status. I don't have special blocks, I don't restrict access to photos and whatnot. I do not choose to limit certain people. I don't want to think about "ohh, so&so shouldn't see this" or anything. You either are my friend, warts and all, or you aren't.

What is nice about facebook, is that I can get to know my internet friends without having a face to face. I would love to meet them, but, meeting a familiar stranger is weird. Plus we can all be a bit more honest. I don't know these people, they don't know me, but we kind of do know each other. Kind of.

As for friend rejections? I try not to take it personally. It was harder in the beginning. You look up old boyfriends, H.S friends, college friends and you want to "friend" them all! As time went on, you be more selective. It's (for me) not about the number of friends I have, but the quality of our "friendship". Some are people I have know for ages and some are people I have never met. I can honestly say though, I have a relationship with all of them.

tsylvain

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2012, 12:58:40 PM »
Great point, Still in VA:  "honestly, i'd rather be out-right 'rejected' than accepted and then added to some list that severely limits what i can see."

Tilt Fairy

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 632
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2012, 12:59:43 PM »
Re:  Still in VA's comment:  "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?" 

I haven't really experienced the equivalent of a Facebook rejection with friends in real life.  At least no instances of me seeking a closer level of friendship than the other person comes to mind.

When I wrote that there is an offer of friendship (of Facebook "friendship"), I was acknowledging the difference between the Facebook version and real-life friendship.  I guess what I'm trying to get across is that there is still a reaching out to the other person in that I'm expressing an interest in reading their posts, finding out a bit more about them (whatever they want to share), and am generally acting friendly towards them - at least enough to want to interact with them online.  This I hope doesn't come across as desperation on my part for new Facebook friends.  I guess I was just curious how others have dealt with friend-request rejections.   

What about with people you were unsure about or wanted to get to know better, you could get closer to in real life and then add them? Or even better, wait for them to add you as a Facebook friend? Or even better than that, do the "step up" thing - maybe add them to Skype or MSN first while you get to know them a bit better and then the natural course of things might lead to a Facebook friendship? When I used to have Facebook and wanted to get to know someone better or someone wanted to know me better, I'd never search for them on friendship or ask "do you have Facebook?" I'd ask them if they had Skype or an email address or Instant Messenger, Chatter etc... Because all those kinds of mediums are good for social interactions. Facebook social interactions come with the SHARING aspect as well so some people don't naturally choose Facebook as their first method of social interaction with someone. I know people who have never sent a friend request in their life and prefer people to ask them instead.

Fleur-de-Lis

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2567
  • Dum Vivimus, Vivamus!
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2012, 01:10:49 PM »
There's another side too - "Is this person who I hardly know going to be interested in (in my case) which train I caught into the City and how vexing I find one co-worker?" (because that's actually most of what I post). Sure, I post other stuff, but I know that a lot of what I post is trivial. "Flat tire today." "Lost my keys; called AAA."

I'm not sure how much friends who know me well care about that, but I get the occasional "like" for my status, and the occasional "hug" so I assume that overall my comments are not *too* trivial to be borne by my friends, but they're not necessarily anything somebody who doesn't know me would actually be interested in. 

And yes, those moments of trivia are the "price of admission" for the more significant moments - the moments when you want to be able to tell somebody that you're worried because <insert concern here>. And you want to be there for them to let them know that if you were there you would give them a hug, or a high five for the happier moments.
•   Finally we shall place the Sun himself at the center of the Universe.


artk2002

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12983
    • The Delian's Commonwealth
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2012, 01:54:40 PM »
Regarding your point about etiquette not necessarily being about making the other person feel comfortable, I wanted to mention that I used to read the Times (London) etiquette column pretty regularly online, and I remember the columnist there writing several times that making others feel comfortable IS the aim of etiquette.  Etiquette is meant to smooth over problems by providing a way of behaving that lessens hurt feelings, awkwardness, etc.  I'll see if I can find a link or quote to post from that columnist (whose name I've forgotten).  Anyway, thanks again for your insightful post.

Much as I hate to disagree with the venerable Times, that isn't the interpretation that's used here or by many North American etiquette experts. Miss Manners is a prime example of someone who doesn't think it's mainly about making others comfortable.

Here's a simple example where you can be perfectly polite, but have the other person feel uncomfortable: In a conversation, someone lets loose with a racist epithet. You can, politely, say "I'm sorry, I find that offensive" and leave. That's certainly not going to make the other person comfortable, since they've been called out publicly.  Another one: You're saving a seat at the theater while your friend goes and gets the popcorn. Someone sits in that seat and you say "I'm sorry, but that seat is taken." Again a polite action that results in someone else being uncomfortable. For a third example, see this post just up on the main site. Someone asked, politely and got a "no", which was also polite. But from the post, it's clear that the recipient of the "no" was very unhappy. At the extreme end, the "cut direct" is within the bounds of etiquette, but is going to make the target very uncomfortable.

Working from the idea that it's impolite to make others uncomfortable leaves us unable to address bullies and rude people; all we can do is take it or walk away. While it may be rude to call someone out for using the wrong fork, it's not rude to tell someone that their actions have hurt you, even though that makes them uncomfortable. It only becomes rude if it's expressed rudely (with swearing, name-calling, etc.)
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

tsylvain

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2012, 03:15:41 PM »
Thanks for the reply, Artk2002.  I think that former columnist at the Times was onto something, or maybe I just absorbed the idea so thoroughly a decade ago that it's hard to shake my belief in it now.  To me, if etiquette isn't seasoned with some kind of regard for others' feelings, it's hardly worth the effort to behave "correctly."  While searching for some quotes from the etiquette column I mentioned, I found two things:  one is that the London Times is now secured behind a paywall and the other is that the Etiquette Hell columnist wrote on this subject in 2007:  http://www.etiquettehell.com/?p=35 (about whether manners and others' comfort can or should coexist - not about friend-request rejections). 

On that Etiquette Hell page I found this quote from Miss Manners:  "Miss Manners’ meager arsenal consists only of the withering look, the insistent and repeated request, the cold voice, the report up the chain of command and the tilted nose. They generally work. When they fail, she has the ability to dismiss inferior behavior from her mind as coming from inferior people."  I have a hard time with this notion of etiquette, which sounds cruel and condescending.  The examples of world leaders taking "making others comfortable" to ridiculous degrees at the beginning of the post don't (to me, at least) suggest that one should instead resort to the withering look and the tilted nose.  There are other options than absurd mimicry of others' faux pas and cold looks and haughtiness.  (I'm American, by the way, even though I now live in Europe . . . so it's not a question of upbringing or North American values versus British).   

ETA:  Still, I agree with you about the "cut direct"--but not because of comfort.  It does seem that sometimes directness is kinder and more respectful of the other person than either mincing words or (as with Facebook-friend rejections) ignoring him or her.  But, come to think of it, others here have argued that ignoring IS a direct statement.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 03:23:55 PM by tsylvain »

NotTheNarcissist

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 779
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2012, 03:33:48 PM »
I know OP you've said that you are trying to figure out how others handle FB "rejections" but the title of the post is asking if Facebook rejections are an etiquette issue so I'm going to address both.

I don't believe FB rejections are an etiquette issue because people use FB for various reasons. I don't have time to keep up with the newsfeed. For me it's strictly so people can reach me should they need to. I have several young ladies that I mentor who are on FB & their phone numbers change a lot, their emails too, but with FB they don't have to keep up w/ my contact info nor me their contact info. Send a FB message & we connect. That is the sole purpose of my account on FB.

2nd I have been rejected (& unfriended) & it hurt at first. However now that I've been on FB for 7 yrs, I just flat out don't care anymore.

One of my BFF's has never been on FB & we are closer than ever.

I hope you are getting some insight from all the collective wisdom of ehellions, because I remember at first it did sting to be rejected (or unfriend) but as time has gone by I realize different people use FB for different reasons. Like someone else said if FB went away tomorrow, well, for me, I'd miss it a little, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

Also, I usually do not friend coworkers unless I know them very well, as in, we do social things outside of work, and even then, I have regretted friending co-workers many times. There's only 2 but they are very iffy friends, if friends at all. My mistake, & I will not unfriend them, but I regret friending them, as their true colors began to show later in our relationship.

WillyNilly

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7490
  • Mmmmm, food
    • The World as I Taste It
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2012, 04:23:39 PM »
...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 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. 

I use FB almost exclusively from my phone.  And I use is sparingly as far as personal posts/updates/photos, but what I do post does tend to be personal - inner circle only.  Grouping is only possible via actual computer.  So I don't 'friend' people who aren't privvy to my personal details.

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.

And remember numbers are subjective.  Sure some FB users have thousands of "friends" but those tend to be public personas/celebrities/performers, etc.  IMO, 230 is actually rather "excessive" for an average person.  Sure lots of FB users are excessive along with you, but that's a very high number IMO.  I have about 100 FB friends with about 1/3 being family.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 04:28:54 PM by WillyNilly »

Winterlight

  • On the internet, no one can tell you're a dog- arf.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 9880
Re: Friend request rejections - is it an etiquette issue?
« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2012, 04:43:36 PM »
On that Etiquette Hell page I found this quote from Miss Manners:  "Miss Manners’ meager arsenal consists only of the withering look, the insistent and repeated request, the cold voice, the report up the chain of command and the tilted nose. They generally work. When they fail, she has the ability to dismiss inferior behavior from her mind as coming from inferior people."  I have a hard time with this notion of etiquette, which sounds cruel and condescending.  The examples of world leaders taking "making others comfortable" to ridiculous degrees at the beginning of the post don't (to me, at least) suggest that one should instead resort to the withering look and the tilted nose.  There are other options than absurd mimicry of others' faux pas and cold looks and haughtiness.  (I'm American, by the way, even though I now live in Europe . . . so it's not a question of upbringing or North American values versus British).   

Just to clarify, that quote is coming from a different section than the first one. It's from, "Some thoughts on the impulse rude and the mannerly way of life." The whole point is in not striking back at people who are being rude to you. I'm including the link so you can see all of what was said, because the conflating on that page is deceptive.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Q348PWE1p6MC&printsec=frontcover&dq=miss+manners&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ioXGT_-BLKjA2gWboISZCA&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=meager%20arsenal%20&f=false
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls