It’s not very often that I get a friend request, maybe the serial killer vibe I tend to give out acts as a deterrent to those who might fancy their chances, who knows?
If requests from acquaintances and contacts are a rare event, then unsolicited random requests from a complete strangers are even more infrequent. Yet, the other day, for the first time in ages, whilst I was quietly relaxing, perched atop a stack of loudspeakers in an empty club, a friend request popped up on my screen from a complete stranger.
This was someone I’d never interacted with, seen, or was even in the same region as me. Yet, for some reason, they singled me out as someone they’d like to enter into a mutually beneficial shared social arrangement with. I declined.
I have a number of unspoken criteria that I usually expect people wishing to befriend me to meet. These aren’t set in stone, and – just because you can tick all the boxes – that won’t guarantee a successful request; I don’t collect friends routinely or just to be seen as popular, I value friendship too much and will always prefer a small number of real friends I can count on, over a bulging list of hangers-on that I lack any real connection to. So, just in case you are thinking of extending the hand of friendship, let me save you the trouble if you happen to fall into any of the following categories:
I’m not interested in being your friend if:
- On our first encounter, you choose to turn up naked with your bits flopping about. I’m not particularly partial to guys who prefer to wander around shirtless, no matter what the setting, either.
- Your introductory greeting is delivered by way of unsolicited IM, from the other side of the region, and goes something along the lines of ‘Hey babe, you look hot, wanna go somewhere?’
- We’ve just met, mere moments ago, and you include me in a bulk friend request to everyone in the room.
- You only want me as a friend because you want me to go to your shows, listen to you sing/DJ/spend hours telling me how great/awful your life is without even asking about mine.
- You’ve made no effort to get to know me, my likes and dislikes, or it’s clear from the outset we have absolutely nothing in common.
- We haven’t known each other and spent a decent amount of time in each other’s company for it not to be weird. (This, by the way, could take years!)
I’ve always been baffled by the attitude that there’s nothing odd about asking to be someone’s friend, having spent little or no time interacting with that person. The dictionary definition of ‘friend’, and one with which I wholeheartedly concur, is: ‘a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.’ That definition ties in nicely with my unwritten rules above, and – I’m sorry to say – is one which has been devalued to the point of being pretty much meaningless in the context of what seems to be the generally accepted norm in terms of what friendship is today. The bar is set perilously low, in my opinion.
The internet is, of course, to blame for this sorry state of affairs, and more specifically, the multitude varieties of social media which have confused the concepts of followers and friends, and thoroughly debased the latter by conflating it with the former, with no distinction between the two.
In social media parlance, the word friend can just as easily mean stalker, crowd-follower, attention-seeker, spy, enemy, fake, bot, or associate, in addition we have those who’ve been accepted into your social circle through dubious and tenous friend of a friend of a friend’s friend connections, those playing the numbers game, out to boost their own social status, and those who are friends on a purely transactional basis – I’ll be your friend/boost your numbers/feature your site if you do the same for me.
To me, this is weird, because the only people with whom I want to maintain regular contact and share my life are those I care about, I can rely on, and with whom I can bond. All of which makes me something of an oddball in this new-fangled brave new cyber world, where everyone is connected and unless you get a million ‘likes’ for any bit of content you dump online, you’re a big fat loser! Not that I could give a rancid baboon’s butt about any of that, I’d rather be Bella No Mates with just a few good companions, than Little Miss Social Superstar with billions of fawning followers.
I know that not everyone shares my opinion (OK, 97.3% of the world don’t seem to share my opinion, based upon any examination of what happens online), and that’s fine too, particularly in SL, where who you choose to mix with is entirely your choice – unlike the real world, we’re not forced to spend 8 hours a day working with people that, in any other context, we’d happily garotte with piano wire! Neither do we head back to our virtual home at the end of the day, to face another bunch of people we’re stuck with, but wish we weren’t – that’s one of the great benefits of SL, we can choose our family! However, I think it’s a little crass to impose your own ideas of what is an acceptable way to approach someone you’d like to know better, without at least checking with them first that it’s fine with them. Offering friendship, out of the blue, to someone you’ve just met, without even asking if it’s appropriate, appreciated and likely to be reciprocated, is a bit like chucking a brick through somebody’s window as a precursor to offering to sell them double-glazing!
I find that there are basically two types of people who randomly ask to be your friend – those who couldn’t give a toss if you accept or refuse – and, if that’s your attitude, you don’t deserve me as a friend. Then there are those who get all butthurt over a refusal, in which case you clearly haven’t a clue what makes me tick, and the whole thing would have been doomed from the start.
I suppose it’s really down to personal preference and your attitude towards those with whom you share your cyberspace. I know, for example, content creators who accept any, and all, friendship requests because they think it boosts their business – personally, I don’t think it necessarily works that way, rather than boosting your business, it just means that there are now hundreds of people who think they deserve discounts, freebies and extra-special service, whilst conversely, you now have a massive following to annoy with mass TP offers and to pressurise into buying your products, because… Well, you’re my friend, aren’t you?
Maybe I’m just not that into other people, and prefer to spend time alone, not being bothered by others, but that doesn’t mean I’m a dreadful person, just a bit reserved. So, by all means send me a friend request, if you must, but please – whatever you do – make sure you’re fully-clothed first, because you might not appreciate a friendly kick to the groin in response!
I could stick around and get along with you
Hello, oh, oh, oh, oh
It doesn’t really mean that I’m into you
Hello, oh, oh, oh, oh
Martin Solveig ft. Dragonette – Hello