Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day Thirteen: A Cautionary Tale

Last week, I committed a Facebook faux pas. I received a friend request from a woman whom I did not recognize so I declined it. I’ll call her Virginia G. Castorini, though that is not her real name. Turns out, it was my cousin and she was extremely miffed. Problem is, I know my cousin as Ginny Greene (again, not her real name), and had forgotten her recently acquired married surname. I was also unaware that she was using the extended version of her Christian name. I learned all of this via back channels after the fact, of course. When I tried to go back in and send Ginny a message to undo the damage I'd done, I couldn’t find her on Facebook.

Knowing my relatives, this will go down in history as “The Facebook Incident” and could easily cause a family rift if swift and decisive action is not taken. Since I failed to locate Ginny on FB (or Virginia, as she is apparently now known) I sent a direct message to her husband explaining the gaffe and issuing abject apologies accompanied by reasonable explanations. That was 25 hours ago. Given the immediacy of Facebook, I do not find the delay encouraging, alas. If a response does not arrive soon I shall have to break down and call her. (Oddly, I don't have her email address.)

So, Facebook requires caution. In the same way that we take privacy measures to protect ourselves from unscrupulous people, we must also take measures to avoid hurting others. We Dopes deem it better to leave a request unanswered than to commit a FB snub. But we readily admit that this is not a perfect solution and as we move closer to Doyenne status it will not fly. Presently we can plead cluelessness. For the uber-active FBers (some might call you cyber-sluts), you can invoke the 5000 friend maximum rule. But that only works if you are nearing the magic number.

We are eager to hear your thoughts on addressing this thorny problem, particluarly for the vast majority of FB users who fall between the Dopes and the 5000 Club. Please share your suggestions under the comments section below.

For help with the more serious and potentially dangerous side of FB, we found some useful resources for parents and teachers:

Stop cyberbullying

Posted by: Keri

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