Monday, September 23, 2013

Why I Don't Chat with Strangers on Facebook

Today is Monday, September 23, 2013.

At the age of 60, I'm not that often chatted up on Facebook by guys I don't know, but occasionally it happens.  Normally, I only accept friend requests from someone I know.  However, I have added people – male and female – who indicate they are members of my religion, Eckankar, and who have a number of mutual friends, even if I don't know them personally.  I have also added people who have commented on one of my blogs.  If they are at all active on Facebook, I will then generally see them comment on or "like" something that I have posted, or something that one of our mutual friends has posted, or I will see something that they have posted on my newsfeed, and I may "like" it or comment on it.  

When I see what my new friends have posted or commented on, I get a sense of who they are and how alike or differently we think.  I don't mind having friends whose opinions or politics are different from mine.  While I don't consider myself a flaming liberal, I do tend toward the more "progressive" views, just left of center.  Still, I have a number of dear friends who are conservative on economic and national security issues.  I'm not one who unfriends people simply because their views differ from mine.  I do draw the line, however, at people who are constantly argumentative, not only with me, but with my friends, not just once or twice, but several times, and if a person continually posts pessimistic comments, I just unfriend them, rather than quarrel about it.

Once I have interacted with the person in a more public way (through comments or "likes"), I generally feel OK about chatting with the person privately, if the opportunity comes up.  I may have a comment on something the person has posted that I think should remain private, and I know that I can make my comment privately using the "chat" feature.  The person can decide to respond or not, but they will see the message eventually  Or the person may leave a message for me for the same sort of reason.  I can respond to it or not.  The person can tell whether I have "seen" the message or not.  (When Facebook says I've seen the message, that means I've clicked on it.  Whether or not I have actually read it is impossible to tell.)

What bugs me is men who see that I'm online and start up a conversation by simply saying "hello" or "hi" or "How you doin' tonight?"   This may work in person, but it's just not a very good starting gambit online. 

If it's someone I've communicated with before, that's fine, but if the person hasn't bothered to read or comment on my posts, it seems a little odd.  I'd rather have the person make some sort of substantive comment, such as, "Thanks for sharing....," or "I agree that....," or "I liked the quote you shared."   When a person starts out with "hi" and I've never interacted with him before, I refuse to respond, and I delete the message.  If the person bugs me twice, I simply unfriend him – and yes, it's usually a guy.

These days, I have so many Facebook friends that I feel I can afford to be discerning about allowing new people into my circle of friends.   I'm not looking for an "instant Internet boyfriend."  :-/

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