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When Do I Friend?

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008

As part of a new initiative to get students talking about the ethical issues they confront in their everyday lives, the Ethics Center's student workers and fellows have created a Facebook page for students.  Here's a sample, written by Hackworth Fellow Nicole Lopez, that looks a a dilemma that faces the millions of college students who use Facebook:

It’s late one lazy summer afternoon and Jane, a bit bored at this point in the day, does what any other person her age would do for entertainment: she goes on Facebook. Expecting no new changes since she was last on an hour ago, she’s pleasantly surprised to find a notification for a friend request along with a message. It’s John Brown, a guy she met at Orientation who will be living in the dorm neighboring hers this coming year. His message is brief: “Hey Jane! Good meeting you at Orientation. Looking forward to a fun year! See you soon, John.”

Jane didn’t really talk to John much at Orientation, but he seemed nice enough when they did interact. She isn’t sure if when school starts up she’ll ever actually run into him and get to know him better than she came to know him from their short-lived Orientation encounters. She feels kind of odd confirming the friend request, but does so anyway, without responding to the message.

What should Jane do and why?