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When Do I Friend?

Monday, Sep. 26, 2011

Best student answer to Emily's problem wins a $50 gift certificate.  Comments must be received by midnight Sunday, Oct. 1.  Rules

At the beginning of her Freshman year, Emily is a bit surprised to find a notification for a friend request along with a message. It's from John, a guy she met at Orientation who lives in the neighboring dorm. His message is brief: "Hey Emily! Good meeting you at Orientation. Looking forward to seeing more of you! John."

Emily hadn't spent too much time with John since they weren't in the same orientation group. During the few interactions they did have, though, he came off as a bit creepy. He kept popping up wherever Emily went and acting over-friendly. He's definitely not someone she is hoping to get to know better.

Emily feels kind of odd confirming, but she doesn't want to seem snobby and unfriendly by refusing something as simple as a Facebook friend request. Should she and John become Facebook friends?

Here are some useful resoources:

A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

Anatomy of a Facebook Stalker

The "Only If We're Off-line Friends" Rule


Photo by Ed Yourdon available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

Comments Comments

Everardo said on Sep 26, 2011
If you don't feel comfortable being around someone in real life, then why should you allow them access to your online self? I know a lot of people in college tend to add everyone they meet, say hi to once in the elevator, or make eye contact with in class, but people need to remember that Facebook--if used to its full potential--presents its users with lots of risks, such as inviting a stalker to your current check-in location, or getting familiar with your class schedule when you post that you "just got out of class" or are "heading back to the dorm." Most people you add are just trying to be friendly and meet people, which is good, especially since seeing someone on Facebook after meeting them can help you get to know them better (or at least help you remember their name). At the beginning of my freshman year, I added plenty of people who I only met once, but when my friend count came to surpass 1,000, I realized my news feed was so cluttered with people I didn't really know or care much about, so I deleted over half the people on my friends list. I didn't see it as an anti-social action at all; besides, if your idea of being social is hanging out on your computer in your dorm all day reading status updates, maybe you should get out and meet other people who you'd actually like to get to know better. Of course, if Emily already doesn't feel comfortable with John in life, she should not add him online, nor should she feel bad about doing so. There should be no hurt feelings. Another option is simply to add him and change her privacy settings to severely limit what he can see--no statuses, no photos, no check-ins, no ability for him to write on her wall. It really is a personal choice, but with so many other great people you can go out and meet (and add on Facebook), why clutter your virtual and real self with people who are toxic to your well-being? - Like - 2 people like this.
Kati said on Sep 26, 2011
Would you talk to this person in real life? No? Then why Add him/her online? If you're feeling it will be more awkward if you DON'T add a person, then just put them on limited profile. Get rid of the awkwardness of not adding them, but save yourself from having them know the details of your personal life. - Like
Deepti said on Sep 26, 2011
I guess it depends on what Emily means by "creepy." If she felt at all threatened by John, I don't think there's any question about what she should do: her safety should be her first priority, and she should decline the friend request. In the most extreme case, adding him might give him the idea that she's encouraging him, and she might end up with a stalker on her hands. Given the circumstances of this case, though, it seems more likely that John's just trying to be friendly. Maybe he's not too good at making friends, and he thought Emily seemed like a good person to get to know. If Emily's using the term "creepy" loosely, and she just means that John is different from the people she's used to, I don't think it's a big deal to confirm the friend request. In Emily's place, I would. After all, she didn't spend too much time with him at orientation: maybe he's just awkward during first interactions, but he's nicer once you get to know him. If Emily keeps an open mind, she might find a good friend in John. Besides, the most likely scenario is that she won't see too much of him once she gets to college. In my first week, I barely saw anyone I had met at orientation. Even if she does see him, it's more than likely that they'll both have met lots of other people, and won't spend too much time together. If she doesn't end up getting to know him over the course of the year, or if she does and he really is creepy, she can always "un-friend" him. - Like
Cameron said on Sep 27, 2011
If Emily is uncomfortable with the situation, there is no reason she should have to accept the friend request. Although it is a social utility open to everyone, Facebook can contain a lot of private information. If you don't feel comfortable sharing your pictures, interactions, or personal information with people you don't know or like, you obviously don't have to. You never know what some people are going to do with your private information. If Emily is correct and John really is a creepy, stalker-ish kind of person, it's not impossible that he could use her Facebook information (such as her dorm room, friends, etc.) to track her down. While this is uncommon--I have to yet meet a person who would hunt someone else down solely through his or her Facebook info--it does happen. It's a good idea to censor yourself on your Facebook page. Putting information like your phone number, dorm room number, etc. is almost never a good idea. The only people who would actually use that information in an appropriate way (your friends) should be able to get that information directly from you. Also, you can adjust your privacy settings in Facebook so that you control who gets to see which sections of your profile. You can allow any individual Facebook friend access only to your basic information or any combination of sections you choose. - Like
Ricky said on Sep 29, 2011
In order to succeed in life, people should be clear about certain concepts: In the same way you separate whats right from whats not, you need to be clear about what means to you the individuals who are around you. Friendship is one of those concepts that at least once in the life we dont know enough to choose who really merit it. My point is: You have to give people a chance to become your friend but not everyone becomes your friend; not everyone is good enough to deserve that award, thats what friendship is. Why an award? Award is something that you earn because you are really good doing some exceptional stuff. A friend is a special close person who gives everything and doesnt expect anything in return, no matter what happen that person will be there for you. What I mean? When we say facebook friend it means that you are going to share certain information about your personal life with the people in your facebook list. If she is not sure about adding this guy as facebook friend the best thing she can do is dont add him until she knows he deserves earn the award, in other words, she should give him the opportunity to show that he can be a friend and be part of her real and virtual life. - Like - 23 people like this.
David DeCosse said on Oct 1, 2011
You've just sent an update about waking up with a nasty hangover mostly because, well, you can. And you think of everyone who just got your message, "We have communicated; therefore, we are friends." No doubt about it: Facebook and other social networking sites are pretty neat. They're easy to use; keep people connected; and allow for all manner of communication. Philosophers have long identified communication as the heart of friendship. In fact, though, social networking sites make communication so easy that they, paradoxically, raise the questions: Communication about what? Is the act of communicating now too often becoming an end in itself? What, really, does it mean to communicate with a friend? I'd argue that it involves sharing our hopes for our lives, our fears and vulnerability, things we love, passions we pursue, what we look like, how we speak, how we walk. But communication in that mode can't be fully captured by social networking sites. In fact, the sites can actually get in the way when they become a technical means for connection with no larger purpose. In college, you may form friendships that last the rest of your life. But, chances are, those friendships won't come from some barely-known (to you) person seeking a "friend" confirmation on Facebook. Accordingly, Emily shouldn't "friend" John on Facebook. Perhaps they'll meet in due course and discover a bond of connection. In the meantime, Emily should work hard to establish a capacity for communication for friendships that endure. - Like - 2 people like this.
Just Dropping By said on Oct 2, 2011
I think it depends on your principles. Suppose you only want your FB to be limited to your close friends/people, then you can ignore the request. If things do get better between you and him, then you can decide to add him later. You have done no wrong in abiding by your principles. Just my opinion. As much as we can privatise our stuff in FB, when we start adding people based on uncertainty/feeling bad if we don't, then what if a next John comes along? Won't that eventually cause our main aim to get shaky or falter? When we are able to abide by our principles, people will soon respect that its our choice not to add them. However, having been in such a situation, implementation is definitely not easy. The perhaps probable way out for now is to add but limit what John can see in one's profile. Subsequently those Johns in future will fall under the same category. - Like
Johnoy gordon said on Oct 10, 2011
I dont think Emily should add John to her Facebook friend list just yet, having this decision not entirely one feeling but more on first impression. In growing up we might have heard the term First impression, maybe from our parents, mentor or even a friend passing by telling us how important it is in how we present ourselves to a person or the world. Emilys first impression of John was that he appeared creepy; does that mean John is creepy? This envelopment called friendship or has I like to call it the amulet of friendship is embedded in us just as how the decision of the president affects the whole state, just the same who we give this amulet of friendship will affect our lives. Facebook is solely upon your decision on how you want to make friends, but dont add a person because you do not want to hurt their feelings or be unfriendly. Let them know what you think and gather how they feel or think about your decision, whether they understand or vividly disagree. I think Emily should decline the request, but do not count john out as a friend worthy person as yet. - Like - 38 people like this.
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