Friday, October 30, 2009

Why Can't Facebook Friends Accept Rejection?

We all know the feeling - you graciously extend your hand in a show of cyber-solidarity and issue a friend request on Facebook. Days pass - you don't receive an acceptance notification. This process involves no interaction and you never actually see their reactions but it's still offensive! How can this be?

I'm interested what other people have to say about Facebook's amazing ability to permanently record and quantify social interaction - including friendships - thereby changing our very definition of what it means to be "social."

NPR has some good things to say about online social networking. Check out their archives sometime.


  1. It is really interesting to think about why people would not accept your friend request. With me though, I think people would decline my friend request because they would not know who I am according to my name. My name is Dumitru Razvan Sabaiduc. I actually go by my nickname "Raz" which is from my middle name Razvan. In classes I usually go by Dumitru, so nobody gets confused. My profile on facebook says D. Razvan Sabaiduc.

    So when I meet people, or even people I know, and send them a request to be their friend, they will not recognize my profile because most people know me by "Raz", and that's not what my profile says. But it also depends on my profile picture, if they can recognize who I am. So they might reject my friend request. So that is why I think my friend requests get denied. But maybe I am in denial, and there are other reasons.

  2. also Raz is pronounced like Roz, not like the Bacardi Raz

  3. Being a chronic friend deleter, I guess I don't have a lot to contribute to this...although I'd be interested in seeing what other people think. And, I'm definitely going to look through that NPR site. =)

  4. This reminds me of the gum commercial where the guy hands out gum as friend requests:
    Perhaps this relates to the earlier blog post about guys looking at pictures of women they don't know on social networking sites. Wallenstein is very concerned about the definition of friendship on facebook, but I imagine that most people do have some sort of criteria for friending someone.

    I'm friends with a couple people on facebook that I had not met in person prior to "friending" them - friends of friends that I had gamed with online. Our WoW characters were friends, we were both good friends (offline) with the same person, so why not?

    Also - I'm big fan of the limited profile. Not all facebook friends are created equal.

  5. As Dumitru said, one possible reason for friend request denials could be that the online persona does not match up with the in-person persona. Names and pictures can be confusing, especially in a college setting where you may think you've made a great new friend at a party, yet that person may barely remember you due to intoxication or context.

    As for the outcomes of an online social denial, this does cause interesting complications in the real world. As the blog post said, you may not know this person's reason for denying you or the facial expression they made upon seeing the request; however, the emotions attached with any type of denial still affect the denied person negatively. In this sense, the ambiguity of online interactions adds a new element to human interaction.