Yesterday, as I was sitting and waiting, I read that 56% of teenagers didn’t *personally* know all of their Facebook friends. Now whether that’s because someone who knows 22 people they know decided to friend them and they figured, “Why not?” or they just randomly type in names and friend people, the factoid didn’t say. Another site listed that 92% of teenagers friend people they don’t know or don’t know well.
Of course, this got me to thinking. Not about teens and whether they’re making good choices. I’m assuming they’ll goof up on-line just like they will in real life. It’s a learning experience for some, for others it will always just be a web site. It got me to thinking, however, about adults. How many of us have friended someone on Facebook that we don’t know or don’t know well — either initiating the request or accepting the request?
At one time, when I first started Facebook, I would go out trolling for friends. I’d scour my friends’ friends. Then I would send a message or friend someone I knew from their list. The easiest people to friend were current and past co-workers or people I attended high school with. I also accepted any request that came my way, no matter how loosely I knew someone. Since it was my goal to have 200 friends, I had to do this. I’m not proud of it, but I’m honest.
Then I realized that, for me, that was just insane and stupid. As it was, most of the people were ones with whom I had only a passing acquaintance. If you haven’t seen someone in more than 20 years, AND you don’t interact on Facebook, why are you “friends”? Finally, after one too many bragging and perfect mother posts, I went on a cleaning spree. I dedicated myself to whittling down my list to 150. In the past year, only a handful of people re-friended me and sent me a note asking why. The other 45 are probably thankful they aren’t reading my bragging or perfect mother status updates.
Just recently I did the same thing. I was up to 209 “friends”. I worked to delete people I didn’t really know, couldn’t pull out of a line-up if I tried, and didn’t hear from. I got myself down to 170. Not bad, and certainly an OK amount to keep track of. I mean, honestly, I can’t tell you everyone I’m friends with. Sometimes I go through the list, and I’m stunned.
The other thing I did was to start looking at how many friends my friends had. I only managed to record numbers for letters A-D. From just looking at the numbers, it cannot be the kids who are friending people they barely know. The top three for kids (’cause I did separate the numbers) were 194, 209, and 259 (and she’s a cheerleader who travels to events). The top three for adults shocked me. They were 475, 524, and 589.
I had the whole experience of wanting to scream “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” On one hand I don’t want to judge, but on the other hand, OH I want to judge. Those numbers are insane. If we were talking rock stars (we’re not, I dumped them in my last purge), I would understand. However, we’re talking “normal” people. I’m thinking that we’ve really gone beyond “friends” (Disclosure: I have 170, and a huge subset of that consists of students at the school) to include almost everyone.
It does bring me full circle to the original premise. If teenagers are wantonly accepting friend requests, what are some of their parents or adult role models doing? Maybe we should focus on our own backyards before we go peeking over the fences of our children?