My weird Facebook journey (and why we may not be friends)

I am not your typical Facebook user.

I boycotted the site when it first came to my college. At the time, it seemed like a virtual popularity contest with people constantly asking each other, “How many friends do you have?” Of course the term “friends” was loosely defined as a lot of people became friends with anyone and everyone. I also didn’t like that my roommates posted where they lived and their entire class schedule. It made me uncomfortable knowing that that much information was out there – even in the days when Facebook was limited to college students.

Over time, my reasons for boycotting changed. It became more about me being stubborn and not wanting to cave. Everyone knew I wasn’t on the site and tried to get me to give in. They were all surprised when I jumped on Twitter so quickly two years ago. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked, “How can you be on Twitter but not Facebook?” To be honest, I didn’t really have a good response.

Facebook logoWhile boycotting the site, I still kept tabs on Facebook. From a professional standpoint, it was impossible to ignore the value of the site in communicating with your audience. So when I decided to create a page for the program I run, I knew the inevitable had to come: it was time to join Facebook. (I was also pushed by a group of friends who refused to share pictures from our trip to Puerto Vallarta unless I joined Facebook. Mean but effective!)

I spent my first week on Facebook trying to figure out how I wanted to use the site and untagging photos (my college roommates were just a little excited that I joined and got tag-happy). When I joined Twitter, I decided early on I would use it as a mix of professional and personal updates. I felt comfortable connecting with people I had never met, particularly people in my industry in Indianapolis, as a way to build my network.

For whatever reason, I just didn’t view Facebook the same way. I wanted to keep it more personal and only connect with people that I actually had a real life relationship with. It’s not that I am a different person on Twitter than I am on Facebook – what you see is what you get with me. However, I am more conscious of what I post on Twitter and feel more comfortable expressing personal opinions on Facebook where I have more control over who sees what updates.

So if we’re not friends on Facebook, this is probably why. It’s definitely made for some awkward moments when I’ve had to deny friendship requests. In some cases, I’ll try to offer an explanation and most of the time people get it. But every time it definitely feels awkward.

So how do you use Facebook? How do you handle denying friendship requests? Do you think it makes sense to separate personal from professional across social media platforms or does it come across as editing yourself? Let me know your thoughts!

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2 thoughts on “My weird Facebook journey (and why we may not be friends)

  1. Excellent points Melanie.

    I totally agree with some of the points you’ve made, and I too kept my Facebook completely personal for a long time. As I was job searching though, I found that it could become a great tool for my professional network to get to know me better (than they had through Twitter).

    Walking the line between personal and professional use of Facebook is possible, you just have to tread carefully. (The same way you would tread the line of personal and professional use of Twitter.)

    I try to use Facebook as a mix of personal and professional because that way (as far as online platforms go) can I really be (buzzword alert) authentic. I don’t consider keeping it professional as editing myself, because I am a professional person. I like to go out and have fun with my friends, I just don’t do so often and usually forget to take pictures anyway.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Julia!

    I think it comes down to personal preference and what you are comfortable with. In our industry, it helps to know how to use social media platforms so I think there can be an expectation that your profiles will be public (to a certain extent). I’m sure I’ll get there with my Facebook page but for now I like having it be somewhat separate.

    Either way, it makes for an interesting discussion!

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