On Facebook: Who Are Those Guys?

Posted by: David Kiley on January 29, 2009

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Burger King is catching flack for its now suspended promotion that rewarded people with a free sandwich if they “defriended” ten people in their social network.

Turns out it was bad karma for people to find out they lost the bonds of facebook friendship for a bite of a Whopper.

A couple of thoughts on this:

Facebook is really the only social network in which I maintain an active interest. I’m on linkedin.com, but find it dull. I am on Twitter now too, but I find tweeting twits a bit tedious.

Somehow, I have gotten to over 400 friends on facebook, fast approaching 500 as I have recently found a cache of old high school mates on the site.

My wife says anyone with over 350 is just posing. She may be right.

I’m thinking I could have scored several Whoppers from Burger King if I chose to. I have somehow accumulated people in my network I don’t really know. I literally just approved a friend yesterday who friended me by way of a guy I have met maybe three or four times in my life. I’m really not sure why I friended that guy. How did that happen? I suppose it’s like saying yes to going to a wedding of two people I don’t know as the date of someone who does know them. And how much fun has that ever been?

I’m also reminded of the chase scene in Butch Cassidy when Butch and Sundance keep looking back at the posse tracking them: Who Are Those Guys? they keep asking. That’s how I feel when I start scrolling through some of the people I have friended.

I was thinking this week that I might defriend a few of these folks. But then I think how I might feel if some people defriended me. I remember how it felt when a certain Cindy L. avoided seeing me for a whole day in junior high school because it got out that I was going to ask her to the junior high school prom, and she didn’t want to go with me. That’s the kind of a defriending experience that stays with a person.

I was berating (for some strange reason) in all good fun a pal of mine, a PR professional, this week for not “getting on facebook.” She said it all sounded too much like high-school, and she wasn’t interested. She especially wasn’t interested in having old high school classmates find her. And now I’m thinking…what sounds more like high school than “defriending.” She could be right.

Am I alone in not really understanding why I like facebook? I have made some connections, superficial as they may be, with old friends and acquaintances from college, high school, the old neighborhood, past jobs. One some hyper superficial level, I suppose it’s nice to play “Whatever happened to…” and then find out. But it can also be a time eater. The other night, I managed to let two hours go by on facebook when I could have been tapping away at something on my laptop that might actually bring a few extra bucks into my wallet.

So, what is it that separates people who have 450 friends from those who have 1,000, and from those who keep it at 30. Sure, I have a more public work-life than many. As a reporter and blogger, there are lots of people—pr people, executives, etc—who want to be on my radar. I often ignore their e-mails. But I have automatically been green-lighting their “friendship.”??

It’s hard to say No to someone who “friends” you. It’s like seeing someone at that wedding you got dragged to. They corner you and start talking about insurance or pressure-treated lumber or the benefitss of oatmeal versus quinoa. And you engage, at least for a short while, so as not to be rude.

I am pleased to have connected with old pals and team-mates, and folks I like doing business with. My poker pals are fine. Sources are always good facebook friends.

But curse this madness that has led me to let people I have never met, and probably never will, into my space. Maybe if I pelt them with article links about quinoa they will defriend me, and I won’t have to face it.

Reader Comments

Charles Brennan

January 30, 2009 5:22 AM

Facebook seems to be the only social networking site where one must be...who they are! And, at 45, it IS an event to reconnect with the past. In a manner which no other generation before us has. So, David; thanks for the friend-add. Be sure to check out my music/artist page (shameless plug...) as well as links to that other social networking site where you can hear my music as well. Peace. ~Charlie Brennan. WHS '81.

From Kiley: Charlie and I didn't just go to high school together...we worked are butts off at Raymond's Restaurant together. And he is one of the people I was pleased to reconnect with.

Nate Ray

February 10, 2009 4:53 PM

I think that Burger King was way ahead of their time with this campaign and really has their finger on the social media pulse. Anyone that has been a member of Facebook for a relative amount of time can always clean up their friends list a bit, and Burger King was brilliant in pointing that out with a free Whopper. Burger King is truly a social media leader.

Nate Ray
http://nbrfeed.blogspot.com/

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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