Thursday, January 21, 2016

Should Facebook have an "acquaintance" category?

A site called “Techotak” proposes that Facebook should have an “acquaintance” category.
The proposal also presents sociological studies which analyze how many friendships people really maintain.  But a critical element of that idea is what friends expect of one another.  For example, do they expect to be able to bail each other out of trouble, house each other in pinch (radical hospitality)?  Outside of family (possibly extended), most of us probably don’t “know” many people to whom we could extend that.

There’s also a cultural expectation of what kind of material they expect “friends” to share.  Some people question the point of sharing “scary” or quirky news items from the outside world (or “virtue signaling” [Jan. 13]);  they think everything should be “personal” and quasi-intimate.

I’m not cool with the idea of pinning category labels online to the many people in my (or “your”) life.  So I’m not crazy about opening up the idea that others should do this publicly about their connection to me.

While I’ve talked about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of replies to messages from persons not friends or followers (other than actual companies), one other issue that comes up is when a reply to a direct message or tweet or Facebook message should be expected. I don’t respond to everything, unless it replies to something specific that I have addressed already.  I don’t think it is necessary to thank every new Twitter follower, or to respond to every single invitation to look at someone else’s site.  I do look at the most relevant or interesting (from my situation) links.  I will sometimes specifically mention by books or sites in a direct reply, but only sparingly (if there is some real relevance).  And (because my blogs are not really niche-specific), I don’t run mailing lists.

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