UnSocial Networking

I’m starting to play rough with Facebook, unfriending people with the same abandon I once friended them — sort of reverse social networking. (Would this be called Unsocial Networking or Social UnNetworking?) Start with 5000 people at random, and then one by one, remove the annoying ones. You know the people I mean:

1. The authors who send you one message after another asking you to like their FB page, download their book, check out their website, read their blog. I’m not talking about notifications or the posts that show up in your feed, but repeated private messages. I now have a new policy: if you spam me once, I might let it go if I know you or if I’m in a good mood, but if you send the same spam message a second time, I will unfriend you. Friends don’t spam friends.

2. The rabid political lobbyists, those who are always lobbying for their party, their agendas, their preferred candidates, their right or left wing propaganda. These people aren’t interested in being friends. They want power, even if at one remove.

3. The uncompromising religious folk, those who never acknowledge that another person’s religious beliefs might be as sacred as their own. These people remind me of the folk in Emo Phillips joke. This joke was voted the best God joke ever, but was not credited to Emo Phillips, and truly, it’s such a classic, he needs to be acknowledged as the author. I don’t remember many comedians, but I do remember the delightfully waifish Emo telling this story:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

I’m now down to about 1650 friends on Facebook, and who knows, at the rate I’m pushing people off the bridge, I might end up with only one or two hundred connections, but those will be real friends — people I enjoy following, whose blogs I read, and whose opinions I respect. And never, ever, do they spam me or lobby me or disrespect my beliefs or unbeliefs.


Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

20 Responses to “UnSocial Networking”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I suppose I should clean up my own facenook account some time. I hope I’m on the side of the angels with you, Pat. Sometimes I am on the talkative side.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re always on the side of the angels, Rod. I love your talkative side! I always learn something. And your mention of your books is always appropriate, and never spammish.

  2. Carrie Rubin Says:

    I only have about 15 ‘friends’–basically just family and friends I know. I want to keep my private account private. But I also have an author page for the public. I started that way thanks to one of your earlier posts about Facebook. You made me realize it would be smart to keep my worlds separate, and so far it has been. If I do get a friend request from someone I don’t know closely (including other bloggers), I just send them a message of thanks and request that we interact on my public page instead. So thanks for steering me in the right direction!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      When I get friend requests, I usually try to steer them to my page, but most don’t go. I have a new philosophy on friending people, too. I get hundreds of friend requests, but only accept the request if they actually interact with me, making comments or such.

      How nice to think that something I said steered you in the right direction. It is the best way, keeping public and private separate.

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Can you really call these people “friends” though? Most people on FB usually interact regularly with the same 150 people.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      A lot of that is the fault of FB’s algorithms. Hundreds of people used to see the things I posted, now only a handful do. (FB wants to make money off us, making us pay for views we once got as a matter of course.) But the truth is, I’ve met a lot of people via Facebook that I truly enjoy. They may not be the kind of friends who will drive me to the airport (especially if they live on the other side of the world), but they are friends of a sort. The rest, no, they are not friends, and if they have nothing to offer me but annoyance, I have no problem unfriending them. It’s the same with this blog. You and I might not be the sort of friends who hang out together, but I am richer for our encounters.

      • rami ungar the writer Says:

        “paying”? what do you mean, “paying”? I’m only planning on getting an FB once my first novel is out, so I don’t know what goes on there except you can play farmville or angry birds.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          The time to get on Facebook is before your novel comes out so you can build up a fan base. If you want help to figure out what to do, let me know, and I’ll be glad to help. I’ve been there for four years, and have never played a single game.

          I don’t pay FB for anything. They used to show my posts to all the people who have “liked” my page, but now they only show my posts to about 1% of the people. If I want more views, I have to pay $10 a post, and I won’t do it.

  4. Mike Pettit Says:

    I think we are all nuts, checking every few minutes to see if anyone has posted or messaged us. Always having to have something clever to say in rebutal to a witty post, never to be outwitted??? The beauty of face book is that you can have hundreds of friends but none are really friends, they are passing cyber faces that fill a void of lonlyness that some of us need, others use the platform to be the person they always wanted to be, or couldn’t be. Others take the opportunity to work off some psychosis or other. while others use it simply as a cheap place to hang out all day without the hassle of dressing or clean up. At the end of the day, I turn off my machine, put on my bunny jamies and go nite nite…no harm done, just another wasted day being nobody, trying to be somebody some day.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      But here’s the thing — I have enjoyed every encounter I have ever had with you, Mike, nuts or not. You make me laugh and think, and I am in awe of your wit and marketing savvy. Maybe we’ll never have that beer you promised me, but my life is richer for having met you. Hah!

  5. Kathy Says:

    I totally agree. I friend other writers on FB thinking we could support each other but it’s one way – it’s all about them and their books. An occasional announcement is fine with me but not daily. After all, I do a bit of it myself. But when I comment on their status, I expect them to do the same but I never hear from them. I’m not a fan – I’m trying to be a friend.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Kathy, yes — exactly. Friends, not fans. I don’t inundate them with emails about my books, so I expect the same respect from them. The amazing thing to me is not that people inundate us with promotion, but that we can actually develop a relationship with people, getting to know them on a broader level.

  6. Writing Resolution for 2013 | Kathy Holmes, Author Says:

    […] thinking about writing this blog post after reading Pat Bertram’s post today about “Unsocial Networking” – reducing her Facebook friends list to only those she’s interested in. Good for […]

  7. Writing Resolution 2013 | Kathy Holmes, Author Says:

    […] thinking about writing this blog post after reading Pat Bertram’s post today about “Unsocial Networking” – reducing her Facebook friends list to only those she’s interested in. Good for […]

  8. Writing Resolution 2013 | KathyHolmes.Net Says:

    […] thinking about writing this blog post after reading Pat Bertram’s post today about “Unsocial Networking” – reducing her Facebook friends list to only those she’s interested in. Good for […]

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