Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I work here in Anchorage in a medium-sized company. I am very close to a handful of my coworkers. We go out together after work and on weekends and I consider them good friends. As such, I'm friends with most of them on Facebook. Lately I have been getting more and more friend requests from other coworkers. They're nice people but I wouldn't necessarily consider them "friends," and I don't know that I want them seeing photos of me from the weekend at the bar or my Christmas vacation. How do I tactfully turn them down? Or should I just suck it up and accept them?
Wayne says: Ah, the unwanted friendship request -- so sensitive and so annoying! Do I let people I don't like into my world? Or do I diss seemingly well-meaning (or simply nosy) people who have no business knowing my business?
Personally, I use the old just-let-the-invite-sit-there-in-the-friend-request-folder-forever approach. Don't accept the request but don't deny it. I know, it's passive but it doesn't let the people in and it doesn't flat-out reject them. No one gets inside, and no one gets their feelings hurt. And if they are bold enough to mention the longtime pending friendship request, just tell them, "I'm terrible about keeping up with my Facebook stuff. I'll get to it this weekend. Promise!" They fall for it every time.
Wanda says: Oh, Wayne, you're such a dude. This strategy sounds familiar ... Oh, I know! It's like in middle school when the guy just ignores the girl he's "going with" until she gets the hint or gets mad enough to break up with him first. Yes, it's ultimately effective. But it isn't the most direct way to handle the scenario.
Once, I friend-requested a colleague, a woman whom I admired, who worked a few notches up the management chain from me and was known for being a strong leader. A day after I sent the request, she came by my desk, thanked me for the request but said on principle she was very discerning about "friending" coworkers online and didn't accept my request -- or many others -- because she makes a concerted effort to keep social and work lives separate. I admired her forthrightness and realized her direct communication was one of the things I most respected about her as a leader. Here's your opportunity to demonstrate that same maturity.
Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I recently got out of a year-long relationship. She was a really cool girl and it was fun while it lasted but things just never quite clicked with us strongly enough to keep it going. We agreed to stay friends and keep in touch and I thought we ended it with no hard feelings. So imagine my surprise when I got online the other day and saw she had deleted me from Facebook. What gives?
Wanda says: A good friend recently ended a relationship with someone and did the same unfriending move. When he, clearly hurt and confused, asked why she erased him, she explained that it wasn't because she doesn't like him, it's because she does. And she realized in her efforts to get over him and move on, having constant access to his page -- and being able to cyber-stalk him by viewing his check-ins and updates and photos -- wasn't helping. She wasn't unfriending him to hurt him but to help herself. Maybe your ex-gal is in the same boat. Her unfriending you may not be an act of malice but one of self-preservation.
Regardless of motives, it's worth remembering real life isn't "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," where we can erase all memories and existence of past loves. Even if they're not on your newsfeed, there's a good chance you'll run into them at Carrs or the gym or downtown on Friday night.
Wayne says: Not to get all Wise Wanda on you, but this is exactly why study after study says that Facebook is making us more depressed than it is making us happy. Because who on Earth wants to see an ex having fun with their newest fling? Especially if their ex is in a bikini on a tropical beach and their newest fling has a six-pack and a perfect head of hair? That's an awesome way to start your day when you open your newsfeed! Then again, there are some folks (cyber-stalkers!) out there who get off on knowing every little step their exes take. Masochists!
Hey, it's her Facebook account, her life and her mental health -- she can choose who she wants to friend/unfriend, whose lives and what potentially heartbreaking information she wants to see, and what she wants her exes, friends, family and coworkers to see. Deal with it.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.