Since the rise in popularity of Facebook, the question of “friend or ignore” comes up quite a bit. Dad, aunts, the guy you didn’t get along well with in Math class are all showing up with their 60 x 60 pixel pictures in your friend request folder waiting for approval to your life.
When I was working at a company of around 60 people, about 90% were on Facebook and about that same 90% were my on ‘Friends List’. We worked together and saw each other everyday and I’d say I genuinely liked all of them (except Glenn, bless his heart). Good times.
Then the layoffs started. I’m a master of the Pink Slip, so I knew how it felt. When the first round happened, everyone I was Facebookey or LinkedInIsh with, I’d sent a note to say if they needed a reference or recruiter names or anything I’d be happy to help. It’s just professional and nice and maybe it makes the recipient feel less like they have a case of contagious cancer. Also, I believe your career should be bigger than your job. Jobs come and go. Careers are paths and paths tend to re-cross. Ponying up two sympathetic sentences and maybe a frowny emoticon might make a difference for you later on.
So I got hit in the third round of layoffs. I guess I anticipated the same Utopian treatment I did for others, but no such luck. It wasn’t really a big deal, but there were a few people I thought I was really friends with. Either way, I moved on. Initially it was hard to move on; with former co-workers possibly peeking in on my page, maybe checking in to see if I’d become a fan of South Carolina Unemployment System, and then seeing them show up with their work grumbles on my news feed. After about six months, I went through and defriended anyone who I hadn’t spoken to.
A year and half later, I get two friend requests from two of the former co-workers within an hour of each other. It seemed odd and turns out it is. The company is holding a contest to see how many new friends each employee can make. Grand prize is $100. The other day, an article ran all over Twitter again trying to monetize social media for the accounting guys. It valued the average fan at $3.60, which I’m sure was the stimulus for the Hundred Dollar Friend Contest.
It stinks on a few levels. The marketing/social media level, I expect to stink because it’s business and business pretty much stinks. Especially now, since traditional agencies are going batshit-crazy trying to find a new model. There’s a hazy level of poopy odor about defriending them a year ago and them just now wanting to reconnect. And then there is the level that blatantly reeks of “this person friended me for a money incentive.”
I am pretty certain the friend requesters didn’t put as much thought into the semantics as I did, but hopefully social media will let “friends” still mean “friends” and “fans” be for money-making entities.
Ads quit working because 98% of them lost any sort of truth or sincerity. People were just bombarded by meaningless crap and blocked them out. Social media will burn itself out too, if there’s too much babble. People are looking for a meaningful, interesting or fun conversation. Business seems to try to do the exact opposite, attempting to find a communication assembly-line and sell more widgets. It’s the endless fun game of trying to bottle truth as it starts to dilute from Day One.
Although, I’d imagine everyone could get quite a few new friends just trolling the company’s lengthy layoff roster. (Oh, snap!)
And in case you were wondering the answer to my initial question?