Cross-posted to Pop The Stack
This is the time of year when we all make a little effort to send a gift to our family and close friends. Other friends get maybe card and no gift and that's fine too, we aren't all made of money and getting good gift for people we know really well is hard enough. But these days we also have a lot of 'friends' who may miss out on that card for whatever reason yet still deserve something.
Maybe you haven't actually met and talked to them in years, or ever. You don't even have their address but you see them on Facebook from time to time and you even chat once in a while or comment on their status or a link they posted. They are more than acquaintances, you feel a connection. But they aren't the friends you hang out with, at least not right now. Let's call them ffriends.
What is the proper way to let them know what they mean to you? A broadcast post on your Facebook wall is too little. It makes no distinction between family, friends, ffriends and real acquaintances who you don't really know but have 'friended' for whatever reason.
An individual e-card or Facebook message is too much, maybe you don't really have enough to say to each ffriend individually and there could be lots of them. But you do have some kind of connection. You like the occasional news about your ffriend's lives. You like chatting with them and you maybe you hope that someday they become (or return to being) friends rather than just ffriends.
So here's the idea. Sometime this holiday season put up a wall post something like the following:
My family and close friends get all the attention. But I just wanted to let you all know, that even though we don't see each other much in the real world, haven't met in years or have never met at all, I appreciate the connection that we do have and hope it grows in the future: @bobwhatisname @thatguyfromstarbucks @amyfromhighschool @louthemechanic @ericmythirdcousin @guyfromlastjob
Wouldn't that be nice? You need to do it right. Think about the wording and think carefully about the people you put on it. Someone who thinks you are best buds in real life may not appreciate this, but then again, if its done with a positive tone maybe it will clarify a relationship. You also don't want to be too restrictive, go through your friend list and add everyone who isn't an acquaintance and then take off people who you are sending a christmas card.
For me, there are loads of people I've got in touch with on Facebook who I haven't seen in years. We don't actually talk that much but I appreciate them and hope to see them in the real world if the stars align properly. Then there are other people I've never even met before. I know them as an issue or idea that we have in common, from a discussions in a groups or through mutual friends. These people would be pleasantly surprised to be added to an explicit list of people in this way. It would just be nice to give them all a nudge and say,
'hey, you know, I notice you and I'm glad we're having the connection we are having. Even if it is limited right now. Maybe, someday it will become more. But either way, have a nice holiday. ok?'
Twitter actually has something like this every week. Every friday tweeters post a #followfriday message, something like:
These are the ones, great tweeps #ff @mrawesome @msawesome @erictheguy @mikethedude @nancythefancy @jillthethrill
I have actually been arguing that follow friday needs to become more selective because many people just post multiple tweets with lists and lists of everyone they feel any connection to whatsoever. This makes follow friday more of the shout out rather than the original intent of helping people find good tweeps to follow. On follow friday I always try to limit myself to one person who was extra great that week as advice for anyone who cares to consider following them. But my suggestion for the First Annual Holiday FFriend Shout Out is pretty much exactly how #followfriday works right now on twitter. But just once a year.
So, you know. Go do that. If you like. I think I will, now that I've suggested it and everything.