Hi. Hello. Welcome. Take a seat.
Thanks for being here. We’ve got… a situation. Don’t worry, it’s not life threatening. No one is in imminent danger and nothing will suffer… except perhaps my career and credibility.
About a week ago, I was at work when I got a notification on my Facebook tab. Which is no biggie because
tagging mates in memes scanning the news through my Facebook feed is part of my job. You can imagine my delight when I clicked over to see a welcome red number hovering over the friend request icon. It was flattering, and a welcome reprieve from, for once, not having to be the one stalking and then adding every new acquaintance in my life.
But upon discovering who my pending request was, my delight turned to dread.
It was my boss. Right there at the top of the pile of people I don’t know and never intend to accept. The very same boss sitting just metres from my computer.
My first thought was, what would Mark Zuckerberg do? I did a quick Google search to see if the creator of my predicament had any expert wisdom on the subject. He didn’t.
I then promptly logged of Facebook all together, closed the tab and got back to work, hoping it would quietly disappear.
In case you're wondering, there is no manual on the techiquette around adding/accepting work colleagues on social media. Therefore, starved of academic resources, I consulted my housemates. Which was precisely no help whatsoever, because the two of them couldn't agree.
One strongly felt I should under no circumstances have anyone in a position of seniority anywhere near my personal Facebook account. "What if your friends tag you in sex stuff, or memes about how much you hate your job?!" she asked. It's here where I'd like to say that I love my job and that I, under no circumstances, am ever tagged in any such ridiculous nonsense...
The other said I should absolutely accept, on the premise that "she added you". This brought up a new concern I hadn't yet considered. If you decline a friend request from someone you work with, does that then translate into real life? How are we supposed to work together, with one feeling the sting of online rejection? What do I say when I'm in the kitchen, waiting for them to fill up their drink bottle? It's awkward AF, and I really started to resent Zuckerberg for putting me in this position.
Listen: What to do when your friend tries to sell you stuff from a pyramid scheme on Facebook (post continues after audio...)
Next, I asked my parents. They've lived through these kinds of hardships, yeah? Surely they'll have the answers.
Nope. Again, neither could agree on a course of action. My dad, who is a man of few words at the best of times, just shook his head, which I took as a hard no. My step mum, however, thought I should accept, again, considering it was them who had made the first move. "You should probably go through and check your feed for any funny business first," she cautioned.
After four pieces of really useless advice (cheers guys), I found myself back where I started. The decision resting on my shoulders alone, except now, my brain was filled with more questions I hadn't thought of before.
How long is too long to leave a friend request sitting there in limbo? How soon is too soon to friend a colleague you speak and laugh with most days? How should I act if I send a request and it's never accepted? What about the Messenger app? Will being tagged in memes about bed make my co-workers think I'm a loser?
So much uncertainty. SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY.
And just quietly, can Facebook just quit putting any and every person from the office in my 'suggested friends'? Seeing all of the people who have not yet deemed me noteworthy enough to invite to their networks is really NOT HELPFUL MARK.
Even a HR manager, who was tricked into advising me under the guise of "journalism" couldn't give me a definitive answer. "It's a grey area and completely up to the person," she said. Jeez, really?
"I would always suggest that you not be the one to add your manager, as a lot of the time the managers need to set the tone on how professional the relationship is. In the instance that your manager requests you... if you accept, you need to be mindful of what you post.
"If you use Facebook to tag your friends in memes and to consume news, you should be fine. But if you're an over-sharer, maybe think about having a blanket rule of not having any work people on your account."
Eventually, I made my choice, which I justified based on how boring my life is and how unworthy it is for Facebook, the number of my co-workers who were already mutual friends, and the fact the only memes I'm tagged in these days revolve around cheese and staying in.
So, I bit the bullet and clicked accept. And nothing about my life has changed. I come to work, I do my job, and I say hello when my boss walks past. Have I made the right decision? Maybe I've made a grave mistake? Perhaps I'm just days away from being tagged in something that could portray me as an unemployable menace. But I don't think so.
Have I made the right decision? Is it ever OK to have your work colleagues on Facebook?