Effects of different personalities
From the results of the survey conducted to determine why several people who are strangers to Joy choose to add her as a friend, various things stands out that motivate different people of differing personalities when it comes to choosing the people they want to link with or communicate directly with in social networks such as facebook.
Physical appearance contributes a lot concerning the issue of responding to friend requests on facebook. The biggest number of strangers chooses to add Joy or accept her friend request based on her physical appearance. The evidence that they got of her appearance follows from her profile picture and the pictures that she has in her albums. The survey therefore provides the evidence that facebook users seem motivated by the physical appearance of a particular user in making their decisions on whether to accept the person as a friend or not.
This theory tries to elaborate the reason as to why people use different kinds of communication in the effort to construct social reality. This is usually true to people who share a common history or wants to know each other better. One of the responses given by most respondents to Joy’s question as to why the different strangers chose to accept her as a friend despite the fact that they did not know anything about her apart from the facebook profile and picture was “you are way too pretty to be rejected as a friend”.
The statement confirms that most facebook users add strangers of the opposite sex as friends for the simple reasons of wanting to associate with people they think are pretty. According to the interpersonal communication theory, such people use the various means of communication to create a society with the people they add as friends. It is only when they have a direct connection with the people they fancy that they can fulfill such needs. People who fall under this category should however understand the possibility of some users creating fake profiles, attaching pictures of other people thereby tempting other to view them as theirs. People with malicious intentions have been on the record using this strategy to trap unsuspicious victims. These include sexual predators, kidnappers and serial killers who have used the strategy to lure their prey into having private dates or meetings with them and consequently harming them (Hadnagy 58). As evidenced by the kind of direction that the conversations between Joy and her stranger friends took, most of the Facebook users who add a stranger as a friend have the ultimate intention of wanting to have face-to-face contact with them and possibly establishing a relationship. Loneliness further explains why people added Joy as a friend despite her strange personality.
As revealed in the survey by Joy, there are those respondents who did it based on their lonely state thus choosing to confirm her friend request to get someone to talk to making it worth noting from the study that all of those respondents were male. This gives the impression that social network users with specific concern to facebook find friends with whom they can share their problems and as a result improve their dull lives. When a lonely person receives a notification that a cute looking girl wants him/her as friends on facebook, this definitely brightens their day even when they have no clue concerning the personality as well as the motive behind the person. Therefore, this emphasizes on the number of facebook users who use the social network as a means of seeking company especially in times of their loneliness. To an extent, others under this category seek a lifetime companionship or relationships through sending and accepting strangers as friends on facebook.
To them, facebook functions just the same manner that other dating networks function. To these users, the decision to add a member of the opposite sex can lead to the person even becoming their soul mate or close companion. As elaborated in the study, when Joy tried conversing with these strangers, the conversation included the strangers initially trying to impress her by commenting in seemingly impressive manner to her status updates then finally asking her out or wanting to develop a more intimate relationship with her. Considering that the interaction does not take long before they bring the subject up, it is evident that this can also be taken advantage of by people with bad intentions to capitalize on the loneliness of some users and end up harming them at long last.
In impression management, people try to influence the perceptions of others by regulating the amount of information they share in social networks. A number of respondents in the survey revealed that they wanted to interact more with Joy and get to know her better hence adding or rather accepting her as a friend.
The number of such respondents was almost equal in the two sexes with only a variation of one. This indicates those facebook users who add strangers with the hope of interacting more with them and getting the chance to know them better. Through the interactions that they receive later, interpersonal communication as facilitated through facebook, the users interact without necessarily encountering each other face-to-face to the extent that they really know each other and treating one another as good friends rather than strangers. Through this interaction, if a particular user had assumed a false identity, it would definitely come out to the friend, as they have no hurry in making face-to-face interactions. This category of friends would comment in the manner to try impressing Joy as described in impression management. They would do this seemingly disinterestedly to provoke her to explain further her situations and further enhancing the chances of knowing each other well. The almost equal number of respondents under this category declared mere appearance as not the only reason behind their sending or accepting the request.
Facebook users who portray this characteristic are least exposed to danger since they only get to network with other users who use the social network to get friends and nothing else. Other facebook users sent friend requests to anyone that they think to share similar interests. For instance, the survey conducted revealed that several male and female respondents confirmed or sent friend requests to Joy on this ground. Users under this category spend time looking for friends whom they believe they have common interests with through perusing through their profiles as they appear on facebook. Many people interpret what a person describes on the profile as a real description of his/her interests.
However, one has to note that before he/she accepts another’s friend request or before another accepts his/her friend request, the person has a limited access to the strange person’s profile and therefore cannot claim to have similar interests with a person that he/she knows little or completely nothing about . Afterwards, that one person can claim to share interest with another after they have become friends. This means that when a stranger sends a friend request and claims to have done so because they share similar interests, the receiver should have all the reasons to worry.
FIRO theory is based on the main contention that people engage in a group in search of the needs of inclusion, affection and control. This theory tries to explain the reason as to why facebook users choose to add friends to satisfy these needs. People need not to ignore the fact that adventurous people send requests to find strangers whom they share similar traits. For instance, some girls showed similar interests with Joy in that they asked about her hairstyle, make up or skin products. This indicates those who after establishing the relationship or after viewing Joy’s photos saw that they had several things in common. Such category of people seemed to share concerns with Joy when she posted on her wall that something was bothering her.
Due to the need for inclusion, and the need for affection as clarified in the FIRO’s theory, these strangers commented on her status to show the concern they have to a person they share attributes and interests. For instance, as a show of the need for inclusion, many friends would want to have their comments count. This is majorly through the creating of unique and creatively constructed comments that stand out from the rest. With this, the person commenting has the assurance that people will notice the comment. This creates a kind of competition for whoever writes the best comment that will be appreciated by the user. A person feels that the need for inclusion is satisfied when the person ’likes’ their comment.
Based on how easily it is for one’s character to change, it suffices to declare the issue of accepting or sending friend requests to strangers a bad practice that people need to avoid as much as possible bearing in mind that each stranger has his/her strange personality. People have witnessed cases of kidnapping happening as a result. For instance, young women and men have reached the level of establishing online relationships with people they do not know. Since some seem easy-swayed, reports of their missing occur on a daily basis as they try to meet their strange partners with the whole story ending tragically. Therefore, the concerned people need to consider such consequences that may occur in the future because of accepting strangers as friends. Of importance therefore is to get a prior understanding of the people one wishes to associate with in social networks such as facebook since the networks have suffered a good deal of abuse by people with ill motives. Since it is through the sending and confirming of friend requests that one gets friends in facebook, it is good to define the motive that one has when sending such requests or confirming them especially from strangers considering the dangers that emanate from that particular decision.
Portraying patience in one’s interaction with strangers on facebook is a good strategy to ensure that he/she does not fall easy prey. The appearance of a person, proved in this case only by the profile picture or a number of uploaded albums cannot prove the identity of a stranger. The claim follows since facebook, the free social media, bears no regulations or restrictions and a person can even assume a false identity with the aim of luring another less suspicious facebook user into meeting with him/her. Facebook users should therefore consider the need to have a clear intention as to why they choose to add or confirm friends on facebook.
The victims of issue should avoid considering the appearance of a stranger to assume that the person can make a good friend. The use of the data given in a person’s personal profile should also not be a reason why one should choose a stranger as a friend in a social network such as facebook. In cases where by one suspects a friend s/he has already added or has already confirmed, there are security measures to employ on face such as ‘unfriending’ the person blocking them. These options give facebook users a chance to manage their accounts by carefully choosing the friends with whom to associate.
Social Networking: The Art of Human Hacking. New York: Wiley, 2007.