Weeding through true Facebook 'friends'

By Mike Jiggens, Special to Delhi News-Record

A little more than four years ago, I joined Facebook, finally giving in to the persuasions of others who told me, “Oh, you should join Facebook. It’s a great way to reacquaint with others from your past and stay in touch with your family and friends.”

I didn’t quite “get” the concept of Facebook at the time, but figured maybe I should enter the 21st century and do what everyone else seemed to be doing.

Within 48 hours of joining the popular social network, I applauded myself for taking the plunge, having connected with several people I hadn’t seen or heard from in about 30 years. Some of these people I had tried to chase down through various other means over the course of those three decades, but had no idea where they now lived or, in the case of former female acquaintances, what their married names might be. Facebook proved to be a simple means to reconnect with long lost friends.

That was Facebook the good. Then came a long string of “friend” requests which I automatically just said “yes” to, without thinking much about my actions. I wasn’t exactly buddy-buddy with some of these individuals not to mention others who I had met only a few times. One of these new “friends,” in fact, was someone from Great Britain who shared my surname, but, as far as I know, is not a relation of mine.

So now, whenever I log into Facebook, which is usually two or three times daily, I’m inundated with long-winded messages from individuals I really can’t relate to—namely the aforementioned people I hardly know. They seem to want to express their thoughts of every hour of the day, and I find myself sifting through all of that to get to the stuff I’m really interested in, from those who are true friends. I understand I’m able to “unfriend” these people, but I’m not sure if word gets back to them of my actions if that’s what I wish to do. The last thing I want to do is come across as mean or nasty by doing so. Consequently, I just grin and bear it and scroll beyond the uninteresting messages to get to the good stuff. Many times, though, it’s an awful lot of scrolling.

Then there are the third party messages whose alerts arrive via e-mail. If I comment on a friend’s message and someone else who might be a friend of that individual chimes in, even if I don’t know that person from Adam, I get the e-mail alert anyway. I realize it’s a simple matter of hitting the “delete” key, but often there are a dozen or more other comments made to the one I commented on, and now I’m hitting delete six, eight or 10 times, and it becomes annoying.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve picked and chosen my friend requests carefully. I don’t see the logic of becoming friends with those I see on a daily basis or even a few times a week. I’ve capped my Facebook friends at a manageable number which is only about 50. I know of others who have 300 or more Facebook friends, and I can only imagine how much time they spend on the website each day to read through so many potential messages. I have better things to do with my time.

Facebook has been a great tool for me to reacquaint with those with whom I thought I’d lost touch and for seeing new photographs of my granddaughter, who I see only about once every few weeks, growing up. I just wish I wasn’t so friend-request-granting-happy during those first couple of years. I just don’t have the patience to read through all the stuff posted by those who really shouldn’t be among my “friends.”

Mike Jiggens is a Delhi resident. His column appears regularly in the Delhi News-Record


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