ten ways to be a good “friend”

Posted on July 4, 2007


Betty and VeronicaThis is a cool article from Valleywag on how to manage your online “official” relationships, ie your LiveJournal flist, your Friendster/MySpace friends list, LinkedIn connections, etc.

It’s a different world from meatspace, and you can’t simply transfer rules from here to there. You’ll find yourself importuned by many, many strangers and you need to develop a better filter for dealing with them than the one you use in the face to face world, otherwise you’ll wake up one morning and find yourself magically transformed into a doormat for spammers.

Or wake up and realize there’s no point having a Top Eight Spaces, because you’ve only got two friends and one of them is Tom and the other is your mother.

These ten principles are simple, practical, and will help you manage your online life in a way which doesn’t give people the impression you’re out to rival TilaTequila or only doing this because your grandkids put you up to it.

“Why won’t [popular geekboy] add me on Facebook?” asked my friend the other night. “I’m a good ‘friend.'” The book’s already been written on how to be a friend. But screw meaningful relationships; how can you be a good “friend”? You know, someone very addable on Facebook, LinkedIn, and such? First, ignore that even asking this question is kind of pathetic. Then…

1. Get in the friend zone. Have at least 15 “friends” so you don’t look like a loner. But if you’re just starting your career or not very connected, be wary of filling out with over 100 tenuous connections; after that, keep it below 300. Unless, of course, you’re legitimately beyond that because you have a high-connected role like “publicist,” “United Way volunteer coordinator,” or “madam.”

2. Be the interesting one. On a network where people actually do stuff (like the social messaging site Twitter), you can set yourself apart just by never wasting other people’s time. Don’t tell everyone “I’m making a sandwich.” Tell them “I just dropped half my sandwich on the floor, peanut-butter side down. I picked out a couple of hairs so I think it’s still okay to eat.”

Okay, so are we clear that the concept of the overshare does not exist on Twitter? Another piece of advice from me: pick your arena. Twitter, if you can’t guess already, would not be mine.

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