Who has encountered a new grey zone between Facebook friendships or acquaintances and real-life friendships?

I recently found myself in this odd situation: someone requested my friendship on Facebook, on my private profile. It was one of these people who is in the same business as you, with whom you’ve got loads of mutual Facebook friends, who you’ve heard colleagues and other friends mention in conversations over the years — you are literally one birthday party away from actually having met this person in real life.

So I accept the invitation and we become friends on Facebook.

By chance, a few weeks later, I met him in real life, at a birthday party for one of our many mutual friends. I was chatting when I saw him across the room and I thought “Oh, how fun! There’s that guy who befriended me on Facebook!” So I smiled at him. He did not smile back. My husband and I mingled around, several times close to my new Facebook friend, who at no point seemed interested in saying hi. I thought perhaps he hadn’t seen me, so I smiled again, only for him to shoot me a ‘Relax, lady!’ stare, as if he thought I was creepily stalking him.
I felt inclined to follow him — see? I’m not the stalking type at all! — poke him in the back with an insistent finger and say: “Hey! YOU asked me to be friends on Facebook!”

I’m usually pretty non-confrontational and easy-going, so after the initial outrage, I calmed down, telling my husband in the car on the way home that it was probably a misunderstanding. Maybe he thought I was someone else when he requested my Facebook friendship.

But then, a few days later, it was coincidentally my birthday and this guy sends me a heartfelt greeting. Not one of those standard ones, but one you actually spend time on (or at least two seconds, which is a lot to spend on anyone these days!).

Dude, I met you a week ago and you couldn’t be bothered to say hi to my face!
I don’t look that different from my photos. Maybe he’s just more comfortable being friends on Facebook than in actual life. And, admittedly, the great thing about Facebook friends is that you don’t always have to talk to them. But it does reveal the real challenge with Facebook friends: you think you know someone!

TEXT AND PHOTO: METTE LISBY

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’

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