Etiquette (2)

We’ve all been sent friend requests from people we don’t know. Who are they, and why do they want to be our friends? Sometimes, it’s nice to accept those request. But is it rude not to? That’s what we address in this week’s #SMEtiquette column.

Submit your questions!

#smetiquette foursquare swarm

Dear Amy:

I have all these friend requests on Foursquare/Swarm from people I don’t know. I feel kind of weird about accepting any of these, because I can’t figure out why these people want to know where I am.

Is it rude of me to decline or ignore these requests?

Sincerely, Funny About Foursquare

It’s virtually never rude to decline a friend request. If you don’t want to be connected to a person on a certain platform, even if it’s your dad on Facebook, you don’t have to approve the request.

Of course, in an example such as your dad on Facebook, there are other issues at play and you can cause other problems in your life if you don’t accept the request. When it comes to strangers, it’s never inappropriate to decline a request.

Sure, sometimes you may miss out on an opportunity by not connecting with a stranger. On Foursquare, however, that’s much less likely to be so. Why does this person want to connect with you there, of all places?

In certain cases, the answer is somewhat apparent – you have many mutual friends. Sometimes someone will see a person has 30 mutual friends with him and figures he should know her, or maybe thinks he’s even met her before. That’s a relatively benign sort of request and an easy one to deal with. If you want to connect, connect. If not, don’t. It’s not as if you know one another. If you’re really not sure, let it stay for a while, ask a mutual friend why he’s connected and determine if you might want to.

In cases where there are no mutual friends and you know you’ve never met this person, it’s also an easy choice: why would you share your location information with someone you don’t know at all and has no good reason for asking you to connect?

In most cases, there is nothing nefarious going on. There are a lot of people who collect connections on all social media platforms. They send friend requests to everyone and anyone, to keep increasing their numbers. Yes, people really do this and they don’t care if they know these people or not – nor if these people accept their friend requests. They may well not even remember who they’ve sent requests to.

Because Swarm/Foursquare is all about where you are, it’s very understandable that you’d be hesitant about connecting with people you don’t know. Keep in mind that nothing is ever truly private online, and if you’re sharing your location, it’s not going to be that hard for other people to figure out where you are, even if they’re not connected with you there.

Just don’t connect with people you don’t want to. Simple as that. You owe no one any explanations, and if someone honestly gets upset with you over not connecting on Foursquare, there are other issues going on.

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