"Thank you for asking me to be your friend on Facebook. I've found that I use Facebook mostly to catch up with old friends and to stay in more regular touch with current friends. I try to keep my personal and professional lives separate, and prefer not to use Facebook to connect with colleagues. I'm very happy to connect professionally through Linked In. Look for me there!"
This is a message I've found myself typing more frequently to the handful of people from work recently ask to "Friend" me on Facebook.
I use Facebook to affirm/strengthen friendships. Why? Because Facebook is both silly and efficient. I can get caught up with a whole slew of people without spending money in one fell swoop.
Some of the people with whom I'm FBFs (Facebook friend) are current or former colleagues. But, because of my current position, I'm careful about my boundaries in the office - not too friendly, not too aloof, not too allied with one person (or type of person) or another. And my colleagues who are also FBFs are people I've decided pose no political risk if I tell them I'm exhausted or really angry at my boss (not that THAT would ever happen), or would be concerned about sharing something that might be deemed too personal or inappropriate in the work environment. The upshot, I try to be careful about my personal relationships in the office.
So, I find these Facebook requests from colleagues who want to friend me to be a little mystifying. Are they writing because they think we ARE friends? Or, do they think because we're colleagues we must also be friends? Or, are they less guarded about their personal boundaries?
Whatever the reason, I feel a little funny when I send my now standard response, fearful I'll make the requestor feel rejected at best and angry at worst. But, I know it is the right thing to do. I need to come home and wax philosophic about "The Office," and voodoo, and war stories from Grade 12 without worrying about how my colleagues will judge my choice in television shows, religion, or high school hijinks. So, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to get back to my search for former employees of the Erie Boulevard Hechinger Store and people who hate the State of Pennsylvania.