August 4, 2011

Maybe not your view of Facebook, but--

Blog, I know you keep dropping hints about getting your own Facebook page, but you know the rules: no disembodied anthropomorphic beings allowed. There aren't a ton of rules about Facebook, but there are some.

Meanwhile, there's really no rule about how a person looks at the role of Facebook in their lives, and I'm not here to tell anyone what that role should be for them. However, I feel like talking about how I look at it for me. Which of course may not matter to our readers, or even to you, Blog.

But it's my blog and I'll pontificate if I want to.

Today I got a friend request from a stranger. I do put out there in the cyberverse that people who are fans of my writing are welcome to friend me on Facebook, so sometimes that happens. Typically the person then introduces him-/herself with some nice words of appreciation. What's not to like? Other times, I get a request from a friend of a friend who has perhaps read my comments on that friend's status and would like to know me better and vice versa. Also very cool.

But this was one of those strangers who is a Networker. If you, dear reader, are a part of any sort of category, like I am a part of the authors of the world, you know whereof I speak. "Networkers" on Facebook are those who love to accumulate hoards of "friends" with that one thing in common, in my case, writing. I can appreciate the networking functionality of Facebook, although I'd prefer people keep that stuff to LinkedIn, which is really designed for professional networking. But hey, it's okay.

However, sometimes what Networkers are really trying to build on Facebook is a place for self-promotion, and only for self-promotion. Before you throw that pot/kettle/black thing at me, Blog, I won't deny that I sometimes bring up my books on Facebook. But I try to do it sparingly and in ways I would comfortably do at a party with my "real life" friends. Different story for the Facebook page for Aggie's Nine Heroes, since it's fan page and people know that going in. Many of my friends occasionally self-promote, and I'm cool with that's reasonably proportional.

So back to our story. By Facebook's list of our mutual friends, I could see this stranger who sent the friend request was a writing networker. Typically when I get these, I'll accept, and then I'll give the person a week or two of posting. Oftentimes I really like them as a person and thus make a new friend. Othertimes less so, and then I block them. Yes, I admit it, that's what I do.

However, today's stranger was different. I accepted her request and then, as is my practice, checked out her wall. She was an author, all right. But what I found was 75% postings of political nature--links to articles, diatribes, etc. And as it happens these were not of my particular political bent. Result: immediate unfriend.

This is not to say I vehemently dislike anyone whose political views differ from mine; that's true of many of my dearest, oldest friends (and also my dad). What I vehemently dislike, frankly, is the behavior of posting endless political diatribes to one's friends on Facebook. It's a free country, do it if you like, but I don't have to read it. To me it seems like complete disrespect for those friends you have who disagree with you.

Whatever happened to the adage that, when in social groups, one ought not discuss religion or politics?

At any rate, clearly this person knew nothing at all about me and didn't really care to. And this leads to my problem with Facebook Networkers in general. Facebook is supposed to be for friends, people who either know each other or have a commonality that could genuinely lead to friendship, like I do with fans of my writing. When I accept a friend request and then see on his/her wall "Joan Blow is now friends with Diana Laurence and 17 other people," I'm tempted to unfriend or block right there.

What you are doing is very likely simply adding me to your promotional pool. Unless you truly use Facebook to share yourself, your interests and activities, and to engage with mine, you're not using the medium the way I do. I fear your ensuing status updates will be a steady stream like this:

Joan Blow Tell me what you think of my awesome new book cover!

Joan Blow I just added Pizza Bend, WY to my book tour--hope to see you there!

Joan Blow I just can't decide which guy in my new novel the Werewolf Alley series is the hottest. But then, it will be hard to top Tristan O'Donahue from the last one, or at least that's what my fans say!

Which, while better than a string of political diatribes, does not strike me as the best use of Facebook. But that's just me. (Of course if it's also you, you can click the Right On Box below.)

P.S., there is a real Joan Blow on Facebook. I really didn't mean her, I'm sure she's super nice.


  1. Very good points. It's nice to be back reading your blog again, even if I'll be back in the vortex of deployment soon. (but only for 2 more months)

  2. Why thank you, Renee! I hope you have an awesome two months before it's back to the vortex...