mirrorshard: (Heart's Desire)
Somhairle Kelly ([personal profile] mirrorshard) wrote2014-11-04 07:36 pm

Social graph expansion

Navigating social graphs is hard, in several senses.

It's mechanically hard, especially for those of us who don't get to get out to parties much, and because both Facebook and Twitter actively discourage private communication between people who don't already list each other - on Twitter, you can't direct-message someone unless they follow you, and on Facebook, your direct messages get sorted into a disused filing cabinet in a dark cellar.

But more interestingly, it's conceptually hard. It's easy to think "that friend of my friend(s) looks like an awesome human" but less easy to go from that to "they should be my friend too". In the first place, I don't know how they are friends, whether they have something close that they don't want to share, or whether she's an acquaintance (or an ex) who thinks she's a closer friend than she really is. There's no coded mechanism for us to recommend friends, beyond the list of mutual friends we all see, and there's a definite social disincentive to use that as a recommendation - even if it weren't a patently silly thing to do, and a trivial violation of Geek Social Fallacy #whatever.

There's also a definite feeling that it's wrong to want more friends - it feels like being dissatisfied with what I have, and looking for upgrades, rather than an attempt to increase the flow of awesome across my eyeballs, and - with luck - theirs too.

It's certainly possible to ask for an introduction, but I'm not completely certain that anyone has done that since 1896 - they've certainly never asked me for an introduction to another friend, and if they did I'd probably assume it was for romantic purposes. For that matter, approaching someone and saying "please tell your friend that I'm awesome" is difficult enough, even if you have the kind of relationship where you know perfectly well they think you're awesome.

Of course, like everything else, it's very gendered. Women and female-presenting people often say "not looking for friends, I have enough friends" (and whilst I've heard that from men & male-ish people, it's not nearly as common) and that's a really, really good way to protect themselves from the kind of Nice Guy who treat social interactions as some sort of commando raid through the barbed-wire-and-explosions battlefield of the dreaded Friend Zone, into the enemy camp. As a result of the existence of these douches, all us male-ish or -presenting people are Schrödinger's Nice Guy, and it's very difficult to go "hello, would you like to be friends" without worrying about ruining someone's day. (Standard disclaimer: it's far worse for the female-ish half of this interaction. I'm not currently interested in the effect at the end, just the mechanism by which Not Doing It happens.)

(This post brought to you by noticing some points of congruence on Facebook and overthinking things.)
merrythebard: (Default)

[personal profile] merrythebard 2014-11-04 09:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I think there's a lot of truth to that, though I also note that we've had some very good experiences over the past year or two of the, "hello X! Y is moving to your area soon and you are awesome and would like each other" variety, as both X and Y. :-)

One thing I do really like about DW/LJ is that there is more of an expectation that sometimes people will click in the comments of friends, and suggest adding each other. I have also had the same thing happen on Facebook, though being a female-presenting rather than male-presenting genderqueer person, I'm very willing to believe this is easier for me. (I also note that it's mostly happened with women and genderqueer people, though with the latter varying in presentation.)

[personal profile] ewt 2014-11-04 11:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I have made friends with some people on Twitter by following them after someone else RT'd them and just making casual conversation. Doing this in non-creepy ways may take several weeks or months, but it is possible. Another way I meet people there is by joining in conversations that include two or more people I follow.

I think it is much harder on Twitter with locked accounts.

I have no idea how to do it on Facebook and I only add people on Facebook who I've met in meatspace.
hairyears: (Default)

Chain Links Fence

[personal profile] hairyears 2014-11-05 08:11 am (UTC)(link)
I wonder what that says about me...

I've found it easy to build a network of acquaintances on LJ/DW, mostly it's about people having something interesting to say.

FB, I'm very careful with it.
danohu: (Default)

[personal profile] danohu 2014-11-05 02:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Depends a lot on how much you expect friendship to mean. I'm entirely open to new online friends, because they take hardly any effort on my part. But real-life friendships demand a lot more time. And when I can't keep up with the demands of existing friendships, it seems wrong to start hanging out with new people.

That certainly happened when I was living in London -- I had a full-time job and a relative I was caring for, so had very limited time to interact with even my closest friends.

But I've also been on the other side very often -- especially in the position of having moved to a new town and feeling very alone. Sucks to be there!