Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Social Netiquette-working?

BBC NEWS | Technology | The etiquette of networking

While I am beginning to think there are benefits to joining a virtual community, I am still finding one thing a struggle - the etiquette of networking.

An article on the BBC's Technology pages just caught my eye as it mirrored something I've been thinking about with regards social networking. What are the rights and wrongs of the whole social networking deal? Is it okay to invite someone to be your friend if you barely know them? Shouldn't you at least have a cuppa cha together first? You can reject someone you don't know at all with ease... but someone you vaguely know or would rather not? Should you just decline or do you need to send a note and flowers to soften the blow? What if you find someone on MySpace and then find them again on Facebook? Are you wandering into the territory of sweaty palmed stalkers if you try to befriend both versions?

So... here's my dilemma. I wander onto MySpace to see what it's all about. I get invites from a bunch of people I don't know, but it seems they're serial friend-gatherers so I blithely say 'no'. I spot my 14 year old nephew on there... do I ask to be his friend (can his 30-something Auntie officially be his friend or should we have some sort of stilted family division going on?!) or do I leave him and his mates alone? I spot someone I find interesting who also works for the same place I do... but I don't actually know them, I just know *of* them. Can I ask them to be my friend? Or will I look hopelessly needy?? If I vaguely know someone, but not that well... can't I add them as an acquaintance not just a friend? Does it mean that I'm going to have to put them on my Christmas card list and pop them a slice of cake in the post when it's their birthday if they've been moved to friend status? What's the whole deal with 'poking' people on Facebook? Will I get arrested if I do it? My hand hovers over the mouse. Do I click the 'Add as friend' button? Do I dither, dither, dither until I give up, close the browser window and hope that there's no message sent to my potential friend that I couldn't go through with adding them? AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!

Where's Debrett's for the modern age when you need it??? Who's going to hold my hand with this stuff? There's no button for that...

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