I had my first Facebook stalker last month. He wasn’t really a threat, just a really overanxious person desperate to talk to me. Although I didn’t know him personally, I accepted him as a “friend” on Facebook some time ago. Later, he apparently tried to contact me through the instant message feature, but I didn’t respond. (Heck – I’m just figuring this thing out.) So frustrated, he called my office demanding to get through to me. He told my staff that he was a friend of mine and that I would want to talk to him. He also mentioned that he was a “genius.” Fortunately, my team has had plenty of experience with self-proclaimed geniuses, so they didn’t let him through. That unleashed a few rather ugly tirades
to me through the Facebook instant messaging. (Why do some people think ripping someone makes them want to be your friend?). So the bottom line is that I finally “un-friended” him.
After that, he sent a very apologetic, groveling note (it reminded me of how an abuser is really nice after he beats up his wife). He really wanted to be my “friend” again. But I had enough.
It was really harmless. More of a twenty-something looking for work (as a musician if I’m not mistaken), and after reading my blog was convinced I should help. But he needs to learn a little more about manners, networking, and professionalism first.
The more I thought about it – and this may be an age thing – the more I realized that there’s a generation growing up out there that believes “Facebook” friendship is the same thing as “personal” friendship. They believe that even though you’ve never actually met, that by being friends in Facebook or Myspace, you should open up and reveal all – just like someone you’ve known for years.
Research already indicates the millennial generation likes their “digital space” more than their “people space” and my recent experience confirms there are deep implications. Will there be more and more shifting relationship patterns as we spend more time online? I spoke at Yale University last year and after my lecture, a student actually asked me, “Back when you were in college, how in the world did you make friends without Facebook?”
She was serious. There’s an interesting implicit expectation of what Facebook friendship should be. But I’m not sure if I’m ready for it.