Poaching is a Crime

Ugh! Behind again! I did so well in September, and then the last two to three weeks fell apart for me–including one ER trip for my son–and I’m back to having the weird blogging schedule again. Oh well. 😉 I’m now the mother a five-year-old–how the heck did that happen? Overall, things are going well with my son, so that’s about as much can be hoped for at the moment.

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Today’s post is something that’s been driving me nuts lately: Poaching.

I’m not talking about boiling meats, either, or illegal hunting of wild game.

The type of poaching I’m talking about is cyber-poaching. This is where Friend A from one circle you move in decides to befriend on Facebook or Google+ Friend B of yours from a completely different circle of your friends. They otherwise would have no other reason to be friends with each other besides the fact they both know you.

Some people may not see why this is harmful, but it is, especially if the person in the middle has no idea it’s going on until it’s too late. You say something to Friend B that Friend A misconstrues, and then you get a snide note from Friend A. Or they jump into the conversation which was supposedly otherwise “private.” (Although, let’s be realistic: just how much privacy do you really have on the Internet these days?)

Honestly, I find poaching rather creepy, especially when it’s done from friends to family or vice-versa. My friend, Chila Woychik, has also agreed with this in the past on her own Facebook page, and actually labeled it what I’m calling it. Why does, say, Friend B need to befriend my cousin? Or, why does my uncle need to be friends with an author friend of mine? (These are examples–they are not real, just so you know.) Pre-Facebook, there would have been no way for most people’s different circles they move in to come in contact with other circles, except, perhaps, at very specific instances–birthday parties, weddings, funerals.

But, just because the way to connect with others has gotten easier doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show some restraint. And, I’m not talking about honest-to-goodness networking–where you’re a business-owner and reach out to another person who is doing what you’re doing to learn from them and their experiences. However, next time you’re tempted to make a friend request to someone because you have a friend in common, stop and ask yourself why you’d want to be friends with that person. If it’s only because of that other friend, maybe you’d be better off not pressing that friend request button.

That being said, here are my general rules for how I handle my social networking.

  • Do I know the person in real life? This can be through a menagerie of ways: church, family, writers, politics, old school chums, etc.
  • Do I have a legitimate reason to know this person besides our friend of a friend? For instance, is this person another writer? A politician whom I would like to keep track of? A pastor or support staff at my church?
  • If I do not know this person, do we have a lot of mutual friends where I can easily identify which group of friends they belong to? For instance, if they’re friends with K.M. Weiland, Linda Yezak, and 216 other friends who are writers, the likelihood is this person is a reader or a writer, and probably okay to befriend.

I use these guidelines when I send a friend request, and I also use it when I’m sent a friend request. If someone is new to Facebook, it is quite often the case that when I receive a request, I do not see many, if any, common friends, so I will sit on the request for a while and wait for more friends to be added. If none come to light, I ignore the request permanently.  Another option, being that I manage four pages (including my Author Facebook and Google+ pages), I’ll direct that person to whichever seems the best fit.

How about you? Do you find “poaching” a problem in your cyber-life? Do you have guidelines on how you handle networking and mutual friends? If so, share below!

Until next time,

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4 thoughts on “Poaching is a Crime

  1. I love this, and I think these are great guidelines. It's important to me to keep my private and professional lives as separate as possible online, and I've had a few tear-my-hair-out moments when friends from one “compartment” have been poached (good word for it).

    I always untag myself in private-life pictures, and I don't like to discuss any deep real-life, non-writing issues in a public forum. (DMs are our friends!) Most people seem to understand that and are okay with it.

    It's so easy these days to infringe, even unintentionally, on our friends' and acquaintances' privacy. For everyone's sake, we need to be aware of how our interaction with them online may truly be affecting them and how we can help them manage that so everyone gets to have fun, learn stuff, and remain comfortable.

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  2. Thanks, Katie! I think you're a lot more private than I am, but I definitely try to respect that privacy as much as possible, hence my own guidelines or boundaries. (I'm reading a book right now on personal boundaries, so it's a great word to use!)

    Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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  3. It can be difficult to know how best to respect others' privacy, simply because everybody's got a different take. I think most of us tend to practice the Golden Rule of applying our own standards to our treatment of others in situations like this.

    The thing for me is that my presence on social media is almost entirely professional, which means I'm “friends” with thousands of people I've never met in real life and have no real way of vetting. So I've just made it a rule of thumb to avoid dishing out anything too personal online.

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  4. I get that! Probably about 1/2 of my Facebook friends are other writers, so professional contacts like yours, and greater than 1/2 I've never met before for whatever reason (heck, I even have FAMILY I've never met who are FB friends!)

    This is where the value of lists comes in handy. Want to say something, but not make it entirely public? Just say it to your family list. Want to vent about the family? Keep it to a close friends list.

    Lists are awesome. 😉

    Like

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