Trish, I get follow requests from ppl I don’t know, or ppl at my school that I haven’t really talked to and I never know whether I should accept or not. How do u know who to accept?
Hi there, and thank you so much for this important and super #relatable question! Indeed, while it may seem trivial to some, navigating follow requests can actually be really tricky and feel somewhat high stakes, given that 1) the digital world is where so much of our social life happens and 2) the digital world can also be a little scary, what with not always knowing who each person is. And then there’s the pressure of keeping your follower count high! All that’s to say: I want to start by validating your question and what you’re experiencing.
The good news is, there are definitely some tips and tricks you can use to, as you ask, figure out who you should and should not accept. It’s not a perfect science, of course, but with some basic principles and some common sense, navigating follow requests doesn’t have to feel like a crazy mind game and more importantly, will leave you feeling safe, comfortable, and happy online. With that said, below, I’ve created a brief “mini-guide” to #figuringoutfollowrequests. Let’s get into it!
- Don’t know them at all? Be very wary of allowing them into your digital universe. We all get follow requests from people we don’t know at all (me included). These folks may be your age or way older than you; they could also be from your hometown or from another geography. But the fact remains: you don’t know them. While most of these people are likely well-intentioned – maybe they’ve heard about you, somehow – and simply want to connect, it’s worth being a little skeptical of allowing them into your digital universe. Why? Because your online presence likely contains a lot of information about you. For instance, if you became my Facebook friend, you’d learn about my educational background, my birthday, where I often reside, who my friends and family are, my likes and dislikes, etc. And while you might be totally cool with a friend knowing all of that, it’s worth pausing and thinking: are you okay with a complete stranger knowing all of that? It might seem like a given in today’s social media-driven world, but that information is still sensitive, especially if it also includes location and contact information, like your address and phone number. My guess is, if a stranger on the street asked for your contact information, you wouldn’t give it to them, right? So why is social media any different?
P.S. There might be just one exception to this^ advice, and that’s LinkedIn, a social media platform that enables professional networking. LinkedIn is often used to generate entirely new connections for the purposes of career advancement, etc., so here, you may be a little more open to why someone may have wanted to connect with you. But still – especially if your LinkedIn profile contains a lot of information about you – be thoughtful about who you connect with.
- Think you know them, but you’re not 100% sure? Do a little research first. We’ve all had this type of follow request too: the name pops up, and it’s not at all familiar…but then you look at their bio, and it seems like they go to the same school as you, and they’re from the same hometown. Hmmm…maybe you’re in a class together? That face does look really familiar…All of a sudden, you’re about to accept them. After all, they’re from the same community, right? My advice? Hold up for just a moment, and do some research. It’s very common for catfishers and scammers to try to impersonate people or present themselves as someone who, in reality, doesn’t exist by referencing communities, networks, or locations you’re familiar with in their bio. So before you hit “Accept,” take a look at your yearbook or class list – does a person of that name actually go to your school? Is that the right profile picture? Bring out a bit of your inner investigator. Most of the time, you’re likely fine, but in some cases, you’ll realize it’s just someone trying to wiggle their way into your profile. In that case, don’t accept (of course)!
- Know them, but not sure you want to let them in? Maybe they should follow you on some platforms but not others, or maybe you should just listen to your digital boundaries. Sometimes, you know the person that’s asked to follow you on social media, but…you just don’t know if you want them to. Maybe there’s information on certain social media platforms that feels too personal for them to see, or maybe there’s something about your history with that person that makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable. Well, in that case, maybe they should follow you on some platforms but not others – and that’s totally okay. Accepting someone’s follow request for one social media profile is not a blanket “yes” to them following you on all of your social media profiles. So be choosy, and don’t feel bad about that at all. On the other hand, if it’s not so much about different profiles as it is about how that person makes you feel, then don’t hesitate to set clear digital boundaries. This does not mean rude messages saying you won’t accept their follow request; instead, it may simply mean not accepting follow requests or even blocking certain individuals. Again, you shouldn’t feel bad about setting digital boundaries. It’s most important that you feel comfortable and safe in your digital space. In today’s digital world, it can sometimes feel like there’s pressure – from your follower count, and from folks online – to allow everyone into your digital life. But that’s just not true. You wouldn’t allow anyone and everyone into your in-person life, so why would you do that online?
- Know them, love them, and want them to be a part of your digital world? Let them follow you! This one’s super easy: ‘nuff said. Really, I don’t have much to add here.
I hope you found this post helpful and that you use these tips as you navigate who to allow into your digital universe. I especially hope you feel more affirmed in setting digital boundaries, which, as we discussed, many of us need to feel safe and comfortable online. Let me know if these tips work, if you face additional challenges, etc. in the comments section! And speaking of getting in touch with me…I also want to invite you to share any of your thoughts, questions, or concerns about the Internet here. As I like to remind y’all, it is so simple and easy to fill out the form. I can’t wait to hear from you! Oh, and one last thing – don’t forget to give our Ask Trish videos some love on social media. Like the videos, comment on them, and share them with your digital network! Thanks so much in advance for spreading the #AskTrish word!
Have a great week,