I can still remember the first time a classmate told me he didn’t want to be my friend. It was first grade, his name was Jared, and he didn’t like the fact that my mother included my brother in our play dates. At the tender age of 7, Jared felt this was an unnecessary intrusion on our friendship and decided to end it. The pain of my first ‘friend’ rejection was palpable and seared through my heart like a hot knife through butter.
Time passed and since then, I’ve gone through many friends in grade school, college and my professional life. Along the way, I’ve had to curate this circle of friends. I’ve divorced myself of people that fall into the ‘batteries not included’ category (people who suck energy from you, but provide little to no value in return) and surrounded myself with individuals whose time and attention I truly cherish.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more discerning about who I spend time with and how much time I devote to these relationships. And yet for some odd reason, I haven’t been able to apply this ‘friendship filter’ to my identity in the world of social media.
I, like so many others, accept friends and business associates on Facebook and LinkedIn with reckless abandonment. In fact, I don’t think I’ve rejected anyone in either forum since activating these applications. Truth told, I’ve ‘archived’ a few people on LinkedIn, but never overtly said, ‘no, I do not accept your invitation…’
My alter ego often attempts to liberate me but always seems to fail. He encourages me to write back to randoms seeking my friendship on Facebook with a, ‘Who you kidding…we’re not friends – borderline acquaintances maybe – but friends, I don’t think so…the answer is no.’ My alter ego suggests I decline 25% of the LinkedIn invitations I receive and brandish the fact that I’ve limited my inner-circle to a chosen few. But, the polite Brad graciously accepts these invitations and moves on with my day.
So friends, my question is when will digital social media truly replicate terrestrial behavior?
When will we become liberated enough to say, ‘I’m respectfully declining your friendship’ or ‘Thanks for the invite, but I don’t want to include you in my LinkedIn professional constellation of contacts’?
I surmise the time is closer than you might think. We’re all getting inundated with inputs and feeds and grasping for simplicity in our daily lives. Less will become more in the world of social media and our friendships and contacts will be culled to represent only the people we like, respect and value.
My parting words of wisdom…liberate yourself by creating micro-community friendships and business contacts today.