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Thursday, January 3, 2013

What's Your Facebook "Friend" Policy?

Will Facebook approve of this button?
(Courtesy of

Since my plans to watch Thy Womb have been thwarted by the city of Makati (I could not find a theater here that shows the internationally acclaimed film), I posted this particular problem (where to watch it in Metro Manila) on Facebook. 

Along the way, I saw a post from an acquaintance - and I use that term loosely - that was bragging about the number of "Facebook friends" this acquaintance has and wanting to reach a certain target, as a "new year's resolution".

Let me get ahead of those people who will say that I should mind my own beeswax and that people have the freedom to post what they want on their walls: if you post it on Facebook, then you are looking for reactions/comments. There is a reason it's called "social media" and not a secret diary. Even with your privacy settings checked to your specifications, you cannot really "control" how information gets passed on once you post it online.

The simple rule, for me, is: if you want to keep something private, then don't post it online. Period.

You cannot cry foul and say "I just meant it for my close friends to see!" - let me repeat, nothing is totally secure online so that is not a viable "defense" when anyone receives commentaries, especially of the negative variety.

And now that that's out of the way...

I just found that post an odd way of looking for friends - to meet some kind of numeric goal or resolution.

One can easily argue that "people you meet on Facebook are usually fake/passing acquaintances, and what s/he meant was just the number of 'friends' listed in her/his account". That may be true for some people, but the word "friend" is not something I take lightly, and I feel bad for anyone who has to take that same word in so flippant and flimsy a manner.

I guess what bothered me the most is that this person was valuing quantity over quality. From my almost four decades of existence, I can say, with all conviction, that friends that have substance are truly rare and hard to find. To have a real connection with another person is not something you can do in an instant, unless someone has found some kind of foolproof and speedy way of determining this. 

The reason I value my friends is that they have been tested by time and circumstance.

So my personal policy, as far as "friending" over Facebook is concerned, is that we have to have at least some mutual friends. The only time I would consider looking at someone's account without ever having a person connecting us is if (a) that person is new to Facebook (b) is not very active on Facebook but is someone I actually know and like or (c) is someone who is a "compatriot" in the many "issue" pages in Facebook, like the Reproductive Health Bill or those that combat homophobia and bullying.

Facebook (like all other social media) is wonderful in that it allows like-minded individuals to come together, even if we are separated by thousands of miles. And because of our shared interests, there is a general thread of authenticity with those whom I call friends, which is quite important if you consider that some of these friends are people you will never come face to face with in real life.

In this day and age when friendship can be defined by some as the number of clicks you get on social media, it is heartening to know that real connections can be made over a medium that can seem impersonal on the surface, and like all things, need some kind of excavating to reveal the real treasure.

So, what's your "friending" policy over Facebook?

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