"Real" Friends vs. Facebook Friends

If you were getting married tomorrow, how many of your Facebook "friends" would you invite? Modern Manners Guy discusses the etiquette of Facebook friendships.

Richie Frieman
2-minute read

A friend recently asked me, "Is it rude not to acknowledge a person who you are only friends with on Facebook, when you see them in person?" At first, I cracked up laughing. Not to be rude, but because this is a brilliant analysis of how we view our "real" friends versus those who are just friends on Facebook. What’s the difference? Well, let me put it this way; if you were getting married tomorrow, how many of your Facebook "friends" would you invite?

The friends who you would invite represent one level of Facebook friendship – your actual close friends. The people with whom you only socialize online represent another layer of friendship. These are often people whose friendship you accepted only because they reached out to you and you thought you'd look like a jerk if you don’t accept. I'm totally with you on this, but just because you both "Liked" the same post in a forum called "Kids of the 80s Who Love The Goonies" does not mean that you are automatically friends.

Friends come in all shapes, sizes, and time frames. I've had friends since preschool who are still very much a part of my life today. I also have friends that I made this month who I feel will be around for a long time. However, there are also Facebook friends who I wouldn't invite to my wedding (if I was getting married again that is). So, when you see these peripheral friends in public, you should still be cordial and polite – even if they aren’t people you regularly socialize with or if you only accepted their "friendship" on Facebook out of guilt.

Does this mean you should invite them to join your family for dinner? Not at all. At the same time, this does not mean you act as if you’ve never met them before. A simple “Hi, how are you? Fine weather we’re having. Well, I have to run to a meeting” is sufficient, but obligatory.

When you accept a friend on Facebook you are essentially inviting someone into your world. The important thing to remember is that you do not have to do this. There is no rule that says you MUST accept everyone into your circle, nor do you owe anyone anything in a friend acceptance. But, if you do accept someone as a Facebook friend - even if you aren't best friends with them - when you see them in public, it's mannerly to at least acknowledge them.

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