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.
While 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!