When you friend someone on Facebook, you get to experience them in a new way. You learn about their political beliefs, where they work, and in some cases, whether they prefer the toilet paper roll to face forward or backward. That’s a lot of information.
Whether you’re a Facebook newbie or an old-timer, you’re likely to face some tough decisions about making and accepting friend requests. To help guide you, here’s a list of four Facebook friendships you’ll want to avoid.
1. Your Ex
While you may be curious about what your old flame is up to, there’s a good chance that being Facebook friends with her (or him) will only lead to trouble. That’s especially true if your current partner thinks you and your old flame have made a “clean break”.
Being Facebook friends with your ex may bring up feelings of jealousy when you see photos of them on a romantic vacation with a new partner. Or it could get your old flame thinking that there’s still a chance to reunite, even though you’ve clearly moved on.
Let’s face it, the relationship ended for a reason. You’re probably better off keeping it that way. So if you get a friend request from your ex-lover, just say no.
The exception to the rule: Sometimes ex-partners are able to move past the awkwardness and jealousy of a major breakup and develop a true friendship. To make a decision in those cases, just apply this simple rule “If you don’t pal around with your ex in real life, don’t pal around with them on Facebook.”
2. Your Boss
Mixing your personal life with your work life is like mixing oil and water. They don’t go well together. When it comes to social media sites, this is more so.
It might not help your career goals if your cat-loving boss sees that you “liked” the “I Hate Kittens” Facebook fan page. There’s also the issue of explaining to your boss that “no energy” on a Monday morning is due to “feeling ill” only to have her remind you about all the comments on your Facebook page about last night’s party. Plus, it may be uncomfortable looking your boss in the eye if she commented on Facebook about how hot you looked in your bathing suit.
It’s called personal space for a reason. When it comes to work and Facebook, you’ll be better off if you keep your personal life personal.
The exception to the rule: There are some people who regularly mix with their employer outside the office. An example might be when your boss is also a close relative or the spouse of your best friend. In those cases, before accepting a friend request from your boss, ask yourself this question “Is there any chance my boss will ever see something on my Facebook page that could get me disciplined or fired.” If the answer is yes, you know what to do.
3. The Office Gossip or Nosey Neighbor
The office gossip and the nosey neighbor have one goal in mind: to dig up dirt and spread rumors. The last thing you need is to give them fodder for their obsession.
Friending the office gossip may clue your boss in to the fact that you’ve been looking for a new job. Paling around online with the nosey neighbor may mean that the cute story you told about losing your sneakers on vacation has suddenly been transformed into a wild hell-raising weekend. Whether it’s at work or at home, you should avoid mixing with rumor mongers – in real life and online.
The exception to the rule: If the office gossip or nosey neighbor is a close relative, you may be stuck accepting the friend request. Just be sure to use caution about everything you post and set your privacy settings accordingly. If you find yourself stuck accepting a friend request from one of these nuisances, try to live by this mantra “If I don’t want everyone in town to know it, I need to keep it off Facebook.”
Your mamma taught you “stranger danger” for a reason. If you don’t know them, they could be trouble.
It’s easy to pretend to be someone you’re not when you’re online. Scam artists and criminals know this and they’re finding new and more creative ways to use social media to take advantage of innocent victims. So it’s up to you to be extra careful about trusting people you don’t know and have never met.
Before accepting or making any friend requests, ask these questions:
- How well do I know this person?
- What mutual friends or relatives do we have in common?
- How comfortable am I letting this person know personal information about me such as my name, address and when I am home or away?
The exception to the rule: In this case, there are no exceptions. Don’t put having fun on Facebook ahead of your personal safety. If you don’t know the person in real life, just say no to a Facebook friendship.
When it comes to Facebook friendships, a little common sense can go a long way. Just be careful not to let the fun of social media cloud your better judgment.