That’s What Friends Are For

My recent conversation with Alex Golub pertains to the familiar question, “Why didn’t you friend me on Facebook (or LinkedIn or Friendster or Orkut — remember Orkut? — or whatever other social networking software)?”
I friend people pretty casually, but not indiscriminately. If I actually know you, I’ll friend you. If I don’t remember your name (and can’t look up your profile unless we’re already friends), I’m not going to friend you pro tempore; please remind me of where our paths crossed, or what your name was when we were acquainted, or why we should be friends even though we’ve never met, in the “message” part of the friend request.
I don’t construe “friend” the same way for Facebook as I do for daily life. I don’t mind working with the loosely-joined connection of remote acquaintances, and I’m willing to make the acquaintance of people whom I don’t already know. But I do want to be able to look at my Facebook friends list and explain how I’m connected with each person there.
By the way, if any of you on LinkedIn felt moved to leave a testimonial for me, it might improve my chances of snagging a job somewhere, sometime — and it’s impossible for me to say how deeply I’d appreciate that.

2 thoughts on “That’s What Friends Are For

  1. I think I friended you just before you posted your last message about this on your blog. Of course, I don’t know you very well. I worried that you only knew me from teaching introductory Greek, which you teach exceptionally well but which was not exactly my strong suit. I also hesitated because I knew that the pneumonic device you used to remember my name was to associate me with another Biblical scholar, with whom you had at least some disagreements.

    Nonetheless, I’m delighted to be able to maintain these casual connections and I’m actually glad that it is a binary friend/no friend classification. Would I have felt better as a “passing acquaintance,” “forgotten, lower tier student,” or “friend of a friend” (you also had Heidi, a friend of mine from undergrad, as a student)? What I like about Facebook is precisely the ability to learn about what others are up to. As a new, tenuously employed scholar, I have enjoyed your reflections on the job market. I also appreciate the discussions of technology. Thank you for being my friend, if only on Facebook.

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