Sunday, April 25, 2010

When Social Networking "Friends" Become Abusers

Friend or Abuser? 
It's really sad when people who have friended you on a social networking site (or they just have your email address) become so obsessed with what they can do that they force it upon everyone else.  I'm talking about the people who send out photos, videos, or other things they come across to "everybody" in their friend list, even when asked to stop.

Getting an inspirational clip, story, or photo/video is nice; sharing such is nice.  But I think that sending these to everyone at once diminishes the intent.  Getting a message that was shared with "you and 168 other friends" means they didn't really think about sending it to me.  They just wanted to send it to anyone - to everyone -they just have to send it - maybe it's just plain obsession.

How Can I Not Want All This Great Stuff?
What is worse is the reaction some people have when you ask them to stop sending you these.  Hey, I'm working 60 hours/week, even from home early in the morning, and manage 10+ email accounts for various programs.  I don't have time for this stuff to fill my mailbox; I don't want to wade through all the messages that so-and-so has sent you a video and then see all the responses, "Oh, that's awsome;" "Hey, that's really cool."  Getting that stuff ocassionally is one thing.  But getting several a day from the same sender is too much.  I get the feed on my social networking site, so if I want to view it I can do it. 

I can't just shut off this sender without shutting off all the alerts and there are things I want to get.  I'd even appreciate stuff from this person if it wasn't so much, so often.  It's become an obsession.  When do these people actually work? 

Asking People to Stop Sending You Stuff
So far, I haven't found a good way to stop getting stuff from one person without shutting everything off.  I've privately messaged the person, asking them to take me off their "send" list for these things.  I've explained my time constraints and how it's clogging my mailbox.  I've received the "Oh, I'm so sorry; I never meant to offend you" responses.  They promise they'll be more considerate. 

...and then?  Well, sad to say, the volume increases.  Now instead of getting them every few days or several in a day, I'm getting daily multiple doses.  It's as if I've opened a floodwater from that individual.  Sadly, I have had to "unFriend" such people from my social networking groups. 

True Friends "Get It"
I will say that there are one or two people who send a lot of emails or requests and when it starts to get to be too much, I'm simply emailed and reminded them that 10-15 posts in the same day is too much for me.  I end up sorting by their name and deleting everything so I can get back to my own business. These are true friends because they respond with an apology and then edit their "sends" to not include me in all the trivia.  What I want to hear from friends is how THEY are, what is going on for THEM, not every cool picture or website they visited that day.  Then, when they do share something, it is special and it is a friend sharing, not spam.

What They Do When They Don't "Get It" 
Well, now I'm sure I'm dealing with an obsession because the individual I've unFriended starts adding my name to every other social networking site they belong to.  I get their invitations to connect, and every few days a reminder to connect.  Yes, I know the reminders are automatically sent by the program, but most of them have a selection button to do that.  And, the initial invitation demonstrates that this person just cannot believe someone would unFriend them.  How Dare I - who am I to unfriend them - they'll teach me a lesson! 

Why It's Abusive
I consider this abusive of me and my time.  This person is not my friend.  I'm a number on their social networking site that increases the number of friends they have.  They are not interested in connecting with me, personally.  They're just interested in pushing themselves on me and others.  They want those hundreds of alerts sent out so they get the "That's awesome; really cool," responses back so they can sit back and read and reread them and feel good about themselves.

This is really sad.  Have we, with all the promise and good parts of the web, created yet another source of people turning inward and only feeling good about themselves by the number of friends and posts on their social networking sites?  What about getting up off the chair, going outside, and connecting with a real person?  What about asking that person how their day is going?  Instead of sending an "inspirational" message created by someone else, how about thinking of a way to make someone physically near you feel good about themselves when they're having a bad day?  Make something for them; a pot of tea, some baked goods, a card that expresses that you feel badly when they're having a bad day? 

Be a Friend, Not an Abuser
Let's remember to connect in real time with real people, face-to-face no less, and edit ourselves a little bit.  I think we'll discover that numbers on social networking sites aren't a measure of our worth.  What matters is how we feel about ourselves and whether people in real life actually value time they spend with us.  If it's always about trivia, it's acquaintanceship, not friendship.

But let's not abuse our acquaintances either.  After all, every friendship begins with an acquaintanceship.