Thursday, April 9, 2009

Social Awkwardness: Now on the Web!

With social networking comes, to no one's surprise, social awkwardness. I speak of the dilemma of how to handle the people on the periphery of our social circles.

This happens to me often in Facebook: I see that I have a 'friend in common' with someone -- I'll call the someone "Jasper" to make it hilarious. I know Jasper, or at least know of Jasper; I recognize Jasper's face and/or name, and I know he knows me. I may be able to trace the exact origins of our mutual acquaintanceship -- he's a former or current coworker, someone from college, someone from high school. Going beyond this, I might know Jasper very well indeed.

But here's the rub -- I don't want to be Jasper's friend in the online social network. There are two broad reasons for this:

  • Maybe he's familiar enough, but I never considered us friends. I think it would be presumptuous of me to declare that we're friends when nothing in our mutual past merits that label (and mind you, it doesn't necessarily take much). We never hung out together, we never worked closely together, we never "got to know one another" in any clear way, apart from seeing each other often enough to be mutually recognizable.
  • Or maybe I hate Jasper's fucking guts. Maybe Jasper is a complete asshole that life has, at one time or another, thrown into my path, and I am genuinely distressed to see that he's now showing up online.
What's a socially awkward web user to do? How do you handle the Jaspers of your on- and offline world?


(Jasper image source)

8 comments:

J. Carter Wood said...

This is one of the various reasons I regret ever having signed up for Facebook...

I mean...I can see the point, and there are moments when I find it to be useful.

But, as you note, it opens up a whole new world of social discomfort.

Like the fact that I remembered, in reading your post, that I have neglected -- through simple forgetfulness -- to respond to your having 'written on my wall' a couple of weeks ago, after we became 'friends'.

For which I apologise.

Geez. Now I do feel awkward.

Dale said...

John,

Blogga please! Make that reply to my 'wall post' your very last priority -- what happens in Facebook, almost without exception, didn't need to happen. No worries at all.

Thanks though.

And for what it's worth, I recommend you do whatever you can to remain free of the FB vortex.

J. Carter Wood said...

My conscience is now at ease and balance has been restored to the force.

Facebook. Strong with the dark side, it is.

twoblueday said...

No "social networking" sites for me.

Miracle Minnie said...

I don't really see the rub. I've had people request to be "friends" with me on Facebook from my work, from former lives, etc, and I just ignore them. I only am friends with those with whom I'm actually friends in "real life." I don't feel badly for not wanting to be "online friends" with people I'm not actually friends with in real life; I don't see the point in doing so. People who want a million unknown "friends" can stick to MySpace.

Anonymous said...

Just come out and say it...its me your talking about...-Shane

Dale said...

Shane, are you the one who de-friended me?!?!?!?

Dale said...

Shane, are you the one who de-friended me?!?!?!?