Dear Stranger Who Just Accepted My Friend Request On Facebook

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facebook friend request

I'm on Facebook with a fake name. I call it my pen name. I use it to promote my writing and to make friends with fellow writers.

I meet them through groups and once I've seen their names pop up several times, I friend them. Everyone I request usually accepts straight away and this is fine, as I'm anonymous anyway.

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But I'm always surprised that those who use their real names accept strangers on social media so readily.

I have another Facebook account with my real name, and on there I question every single friend request I get. You get accepted if you're someone I know in real life but If I've never seen your name before, I either ignore your request or send you a message asking who the hell you are.

Even if you give me a good explanation, I usually deny the request  since I don't know you, I'm not sure you need to know details of my personal life. You might get a chance if we've developed some kind of relationship in a Facebook group, for example.

When you participate in one of the Facebook groups (like autism support groups), you can and do develop real and meaningful relationships with people who "get" you. I've accepted those and have actually become close friends with some of them; close enough to share some of my personal struggles.

I joined quite a few writers groups on Facebook to get to know more people and get more exposure for my blog, and in order to do that, I had to make new connections. So, I started to friend request complete strangers from the groups.

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All of them accepted my friend requests immediately. And these are all profiles with real names. They post statuses with pictures of their kids and families and sometimes post personal stuff.

I don't mind being personal on my fake account since no one knows who I am, but if I used my real name you can bet I wouldn't accept strangers' friend requests. Or if I did, I wouldn't post any pictures or very personal statuses.

Why should a stranger know if you're having suicidal thoughts or that your kid has bipolar disorder, or other such very personal information?

I actually don't have a problem with it; I'm just baffled and trying to understand why someone would accept a request from a stranger who's never spoken to them before. Why give me access to your personal pictures and information?

Some people even have their mobile phones listed. What do you know about me? How do you know I'm trustworthy? I might be a serial killer for all you know.

(Now, now, no need to un-friend me. I swear I'm just a nice Jewish woman from somewhere in Europe; that was just to make a point).

Do you feel safer because it's online? Is it because we're in the same groups so that makes me trustworthy? Or do you accept all friend requests that come your way?

I would at least expect a private message asking me why I want to friend you and how you found me. Then, I could explain my reasoning, and it's up to you to decide if I sound trustworthy.

I know social media has blurred the lines of boundaries a bit, but I keep hearing so many horror stories of bad people befriending innocent people, gaining their trust, and then doing horrible things.

So I wonder, why are so many people trusting of strangers on Facebook? Why do so many of you accept friend requests from strangers without checking them out or messing them before adding them? It's just a bit of common sense.

That's not to say that some people don't have legitimate reasons for adding people they don't know. Some may, like me, try and find more connections for their businesses or blogs.

But why use your personal profile? Why not create a new one with your business name (which should sound like a real name, because we all know how Facebook loves to close accounts that don't sound like a regular name), and then use this account for blogs or business-related stuff?

We have to be careful in this day and age. People on Facebook don't always have the best intentions.

I've always been too trusting; unless proven otherwise, most people are good in my eyes. But as an admin of several Facebook groups, I've sadly learned otherwise.

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No, not everyone is good. Not everyone can be trusted and not everyone wants to be kind to you. Some creeps are solely on Facebook to do bad things to good people. I always appreciate a private message when I friend a stranger on Facebook. This shows good judgment.

So, stranger on Facebook, the next time you get a friend request from someone you've never heard of before, private message them, ask them who the hell they are, what their business is with you (yes, you should ask that politely), and hopefully this will slightly reduce the incidents of bad guys stealing your kids' pictures ... or worse.

And I say "slightly" because we all know there are people who can be very convincing but turn out to be creeps anyway.

Rebecca Beck is an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother of two. Her blog orthodoxsunflower is a rare glimpse into the Hasidic way of life.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.