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July 5, 2009

Why did you unfriend me, Bon?

Ah... the time has finally come. My friends list is full and Facebook has a cap and I'm moving the content that has previously been "friends only" (my vids and notes about the industry and any casting-related scoop I might have to share) over to my fan page, which has no cap on the number of folks who choose to visit.


Why not just stick to whatever number of friends I currently have? Well, that's kind of impossible. I keep meeting people. And I like to get to know them in a way that Facebook facilitates. I like to see what the rest of their lives might be like, what their lives outside of whatever little space in which we intersect looks like. So, because I was so open in accepting friendships as they came in (including businesses, causes, wannabes), I'm now going through and plucking out the businesses, the causes, the wannabes. Please, all of y'all, feel free to be my fan. The more the merrier! Facebook creates no cap for fans. Yay!

There are also other reasons that real, live, otherwise awesome friends in my real life may be "de-friended." (De-friended? Un-friended? Do we have an official word, yet?) What are those reasons?

Well, the main thing that'll get you gone--and fast--is spam-tagging me.

Look I get why it happens. Actors want to be sure I see info about a play or a showcase or a TV appearance or a screening or a new set of headshots or a new edit on a demo reel. But think it through. I have nearly 5000 friends on the Facebook thingy. Actors I've never met think we're friends because they read my column every week or have been reading my books for seven years or whatever. I love that folks feel we're really, truly friends, but you can only imagine the VOLUME of spam-tagging I get, for every:

stand-up comedy night
appearance on an episode of TV
new set of headshots
demo reel edit

...and on and on and on.

Can't imagine? I know. You don't mind tagging because it only happens every now and then. Okay. Do the math. Take whatever number of friends you have and multiply that number by whatever number it would take to get to nearly 5000 friends. (Yes, it's my own fault. I'm open and I like actors and I make myself available to people I've never physically met. My choice. You're right. Hence the creation of criteria to unfriend people being set in the first place.) Still... do the math and think about how many tags you'd get, if you upped your volume by that much and had a job that caused folks to want to get stuff on your radar. Paul Russell talked about it a bit in a column to which I linked in my column recently. Again, I don't hate that! I love it. In a one-on-one message. A wall post. An event invitation. Something nice and low-maintenance and non-POKE-like.

So, when those of us who have too many friends are TAGGED in something we're not even a part of, it means we get pelted with email notification of every reply that gets put on that note or photo album or vid until we race to the page and un-tag ourselves (the act of which also notifies the actor we've seen the note, which usually invites a follow-up of, "So, what'd you think of my new headshots?" and so on).

Thing is, most of us--especially the types who will open our pages up to actors on Facebook--are so actor-friendly that we'll answer an email, reply to a note on the wall, RSVP to an event, etc. We're generally HAPPY to! But TAGGING is for tagging people who are in the note, photo, or vid. So, using tagging otherwise is spam-tagging (driving traffic) and I find it offensive and abusive.

Yes, I could turn off email notification of comments, but if I do that, that means I turn off ALL of them. And I don't want to do that. I want to receive the notifications that are relevant to me. Not someone's cousin commenting on the same note in which I was spam-tagged. If you want to be sure I see your note, rather than tagging me in it, how's about you just send me a nice little message like this:

"Hey Bon. Just posted a note you might be interested in. Thanks for the support!"

And I guarantee you, that is a zillion times better than being spam-tagged. :) I know no one is using spam-tagging maliciously. Just thoughtlessly. :) Now you know. And next time you'll shoot someone a message! Yay! And while we're on the subject of messages...

When you send a message to more than one person at a time at the Facebook, please encourage your friends to do the one-on-one replies like, "Hey, what's up?" and your replies like, "Not much, buddy. We should hang out," and their replies like, "Cool. Come to my show," and so on to just you, the individual.

There's a handy REPLY link right under the profile name of the person for direct replies. Look for it. You're in your inbox, looking at a message sent to more than one person. You see the first message. There's the word Reply right there. Click it. Don't just type in the box and hit the huge, blue, Send To All button. (And yes, I know if you're visiting Facebook on your phone, you can't exercise that option. All the more reason for the person composing the message to do the responsible thing and say, "This is going to a group. Please reply directly to me if you have a reply," so the person tempted to reply via Facebook Mobile thinks, "Ooh. This is going to go to everyone. Better compose a new message or go write on his wall instead of just hitting SEND.")

Yes, it's a Facebook design flaw that when you send messages to multiple people, all of us get your one-on-one chats, and email notifications of each message... and it's annoying. And, again, if you have nearly 5000 friends, you see how this could get out of hand. And how it, then, becomes criteria for the above-mentioned unfriending. :) Now you know. So, until Facebook fixes that (which their help page says they have no intention of "fixing," since they see it as a "feature"), please either encourage DIRECT replies or omit delicate flowers like me from the "mass mailings" so I don't have to experience the party line thing. :) Or understand the unfriending.

Another reason I may have unfriended you is that you were mean. Or negative. Or otherwise unpleasant to have on my screen. I thought long and hard about this one, because I really do like to keep tabs on what happens in my friends' lives, and sometimes that does include the bad and the ugly. But when someone who was a not-close-friend (at best) in high school--someone I've not seen in over 20 years--posts something snarky and inappropriate in the comments thread of a conversation I have happening with other folks, I begin to ask myself why we're even connected. When someone who was actually a very close friend in college, but who has had a major life change and now wants to spout political and religious diatribes on my wall goes on a posting frenzy, I begin to ask myself why I'm supplying a venue for these posts that I find offensive, no matter how close we once were.

But I felt bad simply pulling the plug on these folks since, well, I did actually know them, right? And then it hit me. Hang on! Who says Facebook is about fair? My own brother declined my friend request! It's not like there's a rule that just because you know someone, you have to include them in your life (online or otherwise). Awesome! An epiphany! I can--simply because you don't add to my level of general happiness in my online life--choose to remove you from my Facebook world. Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! Such a breakthrough. It's not about being fair or having rules about inclusiveness that allow for everyone to be welcome. You make me happy? I like having you around. You make me bummed out? You're off my grid. Life's too short! Awesome. I'm over worrying that people are going to bitch about how mean I am, unfriending 'em or declining requests. I have learned that there is no amount of "fixing things" that can be done in order to keep people who are prone to complain about you from complaining about you. So, have at it! My Facebook space is my space. (Well, not MySpace. But you know.) :) And I want to have fun while I'm there. Stress-causers are getting their walking papers.

Ooh, I may do this in real life too!

Happy better Internet practices, everyone. (Oh and for the love of all that is holy, can I take a moment to remind everyone to use BCC again? Since it doesn't seem to matter how much that request gets made? Yeah. I know. Never-ending battle. *sigh* Ah well... t'was worth a shot.) Thanks, y'all!

Posted by bonnie at July 5, 2009 4:47 PM


Amen, Bonnie!! You always know just how to put these little thoughts that are rolling around in my head into actual words.

Posted by: Katy at July 5, 2009 6:03 PM

Oh, I'm so glad it's useful to you, Katy. :) I've been thinking about it--a lot--for a while, knowing it was coming. And today Mona Gillen posted a great note to her friends, warning them about the unfriending to come. It was a great inspiration for me to finally get this stuff out there, so no one is taken off guard.

And more importantly, for me to have a paradigm shift about what is fair and what's unfair. It's effin' Facebook. I should have fun while I'm there! :)


Posted by: bon Author Profile Page at July 5, 2009 6:10 PM

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