Saturday, June 12, 2010

To friend or not to friend?

Facebooked your mom For family members, that is the question.

I think we've all been there. You run across a family member on Facebook and check to see what information is available on their your horror, you see that they are not only a fundamentalist Christian, they are also fans of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and they're members of the Obama death prayer group, or the O.B.A.M.A group (One Big Ass Mistake America), or the 1,000,000 Strong Against Baby-Raping Atheists Who Cross-dress and Drink White Wine with Beef group.

Okay, I made one of those up.

It can definitely be a dilemma. Do you send them a friend request, or do you just move along? What do you do if one of them finds you and sends you a request? Are you obligated to accept because of family ties?

Personally, I say no. It's not just a matter of seeing their posts that you know are going to make your head explode--you can always hide their posts. There is personal privacy involved, and we are all entitled to it. Just because I'm related to a person does not mean that my life must be an open book to them.

A prime example would be my Mom. I love my Mom dearly, but I am very grateful that she has no desire to learn to use the computer, or to be on any sort of networking site. You all know that I've got a foul mouth, and I use it here and on Facebook. I've also got a liberal streak in me a mile wide, and much of my family is quite conservative. I have very strong opinions about religion. When I am around my Mom or many members of my family, I don't use such language, or talk about my opinions on various matters. That is out of respect for them and their feelings, and in the interest of family harmony. I do not want my Mom knowing everything that I say here or on Facebook. I feel that I have the right to my privacy and my personal opinions, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

There are some family members that I am friends with. Those are people that know me and my opinions well (Cousin Shane, et al) and tend to be close to me in our feelings about various things; these are people that I am myself with. I'm the same with them as I am with my friends. Then there is Cousin Curt, who doesn't agree with me on much of anything (other than the importance of education and a mutual love of literature), but gets a kick out of our disagreements and enjoys the debates. We all deal with people differently, and there are some things that we don't disclose to family members. I'm certain that I can't be the only one to make that distinction, or draw the line at full disclosure. I have to wonder why any conservative, religious relatives would even want to be friends with me...I can't imagine that they would enjoy any of my posts! Those that are friends with me are those who "get me," and even if they don't agree with me, they certainly won't be concerned about what I write.

I had a cousin tell me that a mutual relative sent him a concerned email about an entry of mine, saying, "You need to see this." My cousin was worried until he read my entry and realized that it was just opinions that differed greatly from those of most of the family...I'm guessing he decided that no intervention was necessary. Haha!

It really is perfectly okay to not accept every friend request you receive. I'm sure there are people who would say, "Well, what do you have to hide? If you don't want to share things with everyone, don't write it." Whatever. I can't begin to tell you how liberating it was to decide to write what I wanted here, and to find like-minded people on Facebook. I may censor myself around certain family members, but this is my space (ha...get it?), and I don't want to have to censor myself here. Simply being in the same family does not mean I'm obliged to provide full disclosure.

I think this video sums things up pretty well. I understand the concern that is involved, but I also realize now that kids need to do their own thing. As do I.


  1. We are in complete agreement on this :o)

  2. I behave like that when I am around my mom too. I have too. But around my cousins I do not give a shit. I have some “ultra conservative” cousins who smoke pot, but are a Bush and Cheney fans. They loved me, cause I make them think beyond the Sarah Palin frame of mind. They are still fixated on their views, but at least I give them a peace of my queer mind. Thanks for this great post.

  3. i agree beth,in fact there are several on fb i have "lost",accidently you understand,for just this crashes are very mysterious things sometimes,lmao tc love mort xxx

  4. Great points, Beth. I am a little conflicted when it comes to accepting friend requests as well. I decided that I would not actively seek to friend anyone that I wasn't friends with right now. I let others find me, and request or not. Then I just have to decide whether or not to accept. As of now, I always have. I don';t post much, and I don't post personal, so it's not that big a deal. I do post political and if they don't like it, tough! :)
    I haven't had any issues really, and I have found that I have reconnected with many past friends who I didn't think I would. So it's worked for me, though I am not as outspoken as you are! :)
    The video is hysterical. That woman would be my mother! Thankfully, she's not computer savvy and doesn't care to be. If only she knew....
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  5. I've never been much of a privacy advocate, at least as it applies to myself. Of course, that's easy for me to say, since both of my parents (who would undoubtedly disagree with most of my opions) are deceased. In general, my life is an open (Face)book.

    From the other perspective, since I'm speaking as the mother and not the child . . . My daughter was one of the first to friend me when I joined Facebook, followed closely by a large number of her friends, all of whom I've known since they were kids. At first, I couldn't understand why they'd want me, an "old lady", to be able to sit in on their conversations, but a couple of years later it turns out that most of them have become my best Facebook friends, with whom I communicate the most. Sometimes I think I'm the kid here, since occasionally I worry about what they'll think of my postings, rather than vice versa. My acceptance of their ideas, language, and actions is what has made this possible, I guess.

  6. i dont use my real name on facebook. i sorta dont use my real full name on here. what i say and do in my time away from work is my business and it's pretty important to me to keep it that way. i even made up some whacked out email that no one has ever been privy to for both my myspace contact and facebook contact. i friend who i want and say what i want and that's the way (uh huh uh huh) i like it....


  7. The video was hilarious! Situations like the one with your family memeber 'telling on you' are part of my discomfort with Facebook. There are people that I don't want to know and keep up with that I have already 'friended'.

    That is another issue I am wrestling with. Will flip a coin and figure that out as well!!

  8. I opted out of facebook. It seems like a huge waste of time to me.

  9. LOL! Beth that Onion vid is great.:)

    Friend requests are tough. I saved myself a lot of heartache by being very exclusive. If you don't align with my worldview, there is no way I would approve a friend request. That locks out most of my family, most people from high school and college, and most people online.

  10. I have ignored several friend requests from people I really don't want to be a part of my online experience. If they ever ask me about it, I will simply tell them that I'm not comfortable having them in that space of my life. There is one person whose comments I see on mutual friends' statuses, and the comments make me very uncomfortable. I have ignored his requests more than once, but when I see him in person he never says anything about it. There are a few people I have friended out of a wish for peace, and then I have hidden their feed. They are ones that I don't mind if they comment or read what I write; I just don't want to have to read what they write. I am religious (though my views differ from many of your other "religious" readers and commenters), tho I don't consider myself conservative, or at least, not right-wing conservative -- after all, I don't hate Obama, and I respect the rights of others to have their own opinions -- but if I like someone and have something in common with them, I can handle them having differing opinions on certain subjects without getting all bent out of shape. I can pick and choose what things I want to read or comment on, after all. We all have the right to choose who we "friend", and you are SO right about having some family members and friends whom you would rather not have reading your blog or facebook posts. If it's your space, you get to choose how you use it and who gets to see it!

  11. P.S. LOVED the onion video!! I may have to share that one.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?