Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Friend or not to Friend?

In his runaway hit book The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell suggests that little things can spur major societal change. He goes on to describe three kinds of people who can precipitate this kind of change: connectors, mavens and salesmen.

I enjoy Facebook, I really do. It’s been a great way for me to connect with my friends, reconnect with old friends, and even rediscover people I may not have been able otherwise find again.

But make no mistake, I am not what Gladwell would describe as a “connector” – the people who link us to each other. You know the type – the people in your own Facebook network who have 500+ “friends.”

I, on the other hand, fall more into the “maven” camp. I love to know things: what’s the hottest new restaurant, where to buy the right pair of summer shoes, and which summer camps give you the most bang for your buck. I also love to know what’s going on with my friends and acquaintances on Facebook. (I just haven’t gotten into the habit of posting information about myself yet.)

Because I’m a totally passive Facebook user, I rarely invite people to be my “friends.” Assuming I've met the person, I will always accept a “friend request” though – until recently.

A friend request landed in my Inbox from someone I knew a long time ago. We were “friendly” then, but literally have not spoken to one another in two decades. I clicked on his Facebook page and found that he had changed a lot in twenty years. His Facebook profile told me about his very strong political and religious views – ones that were really, really different from my own. And I didn’t know what to do. I was reticent to “accept” this old “friend” as part of my network because I was concerned that including him in my network would associate me with his more radical beliefs.

So the question is: Is more really more? Do you want more friends on Facebook so that you can connect with others? Or are you happy as a maven – knowing a lot about just a few?


  1. You know, I had the opposite thought this morning. I sent a friend request that was not immediately accepted to an old acquaintance. Then I started thinking about how she new me and I remembered I dated her on and off boyfriend in high school. I was the competition. The enemy. It doesn't matter that I am now married, thousands of miles away and light years away from my high school maturity level. Why in the world would she want to be my friend now. At lease I'm not bitter about being snubbed. I completely understand :)

  2. Ha. It may be better to ignore at first than to delete later. ;)

    Thanks for sharing, Tashmica.