You WILL Regret Accepting Your Coworker’s Social Media Friend Request

Facebook was born just as Piggy and I became seniors in high school. That made us the exact right age to experience the social media phenomenon as it was originally intended: a secret club made exclusively for college students to be extremely horny at each other.

Ummm yeah. It was buck-wild.

Scroll back far enough, and it’s like time traveling back to Studio 54 in 1978. Nothing but glitter and blow and Donna Summer rhapsodizing for seventeen minutes about a cake in the rain. Jokes so filthy I cover my mouth when I read them! Photos so embarrassing they can never see the light of day!

Is there a photo of Piggy and I clinking wine glasses while I’m giving her a lap dance while wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, a bra, leggings, and some fingerless leather biker gloves? Uh, YEAH, I’m pretty sure there is! (And before you ask, no—you shall never see them. Not even you, Patreon donors. I know we’ve shared some of our drunken karaoke with you in the past, but even we have limits!)

It was fun while it lasted. But alas, nothing gold can stay.

The times they are a’changin’

First came the high school students. Then the general public. Friend requests crept in from younger kids who’d looked up to us. Coworkers. Professors. Bosses! Parents?! GRANDPARENTS??! Meemaw, no! You don’t need to see old photos of Piggy and I humping a statue of Abigail Adams!

So much about social media has changed since Pigz and I were young. But even though its place in our daily lives is pretty damn cemented, there still isn’t a clear path to avoiding the intrusive, awkward encounters with bosses, coworkers, and companies. The OG horniness persists if the platform persists (do not check your filtered messages, for there be dragons). But it has expanded to includes bosses, coworkers, and companies who are horny for a peek into your private life. They’re thirsty as heck to leverage whatever they can learn about you for their own purposes.

Today we’re sharing some horrifying tales from the intersection of work and social media. Perhaps we can distill a little wisdom from the wreckage!

These stories come to us from Patreon donors, who answered my call for good bad anecdotes. For extra discretion, I’ve changed a few details and omitted even first names. I got yer back, donors!

We often ask our patrons for stories, comments, and feedback. So if you’d like to be part of those discussions, head on over to our Patreon page!

We’re trying to stay like Facebook in its glory days: no adults, no potential employers, no ads, no rules, no ragrets.

When it comes to social media and coworkers, you're gonna have "ragrets."

Passive aggressive coworkers

The other day, I had an interaction with a coworker that felt awkward. My coworker had an idea she was excited about. I tried to explain some reasons why I didn’t think the idea would work for us. She got annoyed and used some insensitive language while defending her idea, which I tried to gently correct. She called me a “nitpicker” and left the break room.

I didn’t enjoy that interaction, but at least it was over… or so I thought!

The small company I work for has a private Facebook group for employees to chat with each other. Late that night, she posted a lengthy rant to the group. It was all about the “negative energy” in the office, and how “certain people” don’t appreciate things as much as they should. She didn’t name names… but of course I assumed it was about me.

This post cranked my social anxiety to 11. I spent a sleepless night feeling responsible for her anger, and strategizing how I could try to fix the situation.

Ultimately, someone else solved the problem for me. The passive aggressive poster was cornered in the break room by a different coworker, who asked her to explain what she’d meant in plainer language. The poster got super flustered and stammered out more vague stuff before beating a hasty retreat.

The issue seems resolved. For now. But I dread seeing the next notification from her…

Lord, I pray to you today to deliver us from evil. And by “evil,” I mean coworkers who vaguebook.

Passive aggressive coworkers are a real annoyance. They’re like socially maladjusted house cats: rubbing up on your leg, acting all sweet, sinking their claws into you the moment you turn your back. You’ve got to spend some of your own spoons managing them because they can’t manage themselves. It’s annoying enough during work hours. I surely don’t need them annoying me overtime, in the privacy of my own damn home!

Bosses who think they’re your friend

Back before I was older and wiser, I wasn’t as cautious with social media and friended my boss on Facebook.

She turned into an absolute disaster: late to meetings (or missing them entirely) with zero communication, even if the meeting had been scheduled or rescheduled entirely around her convenience.

I brought up that this was affecting stakeholders and their impression of our group. And I did so as kindly as I could, but was completely disregarded. I finally quit in disgust when she told me it was my responsibility to get her to places on time. She told me she couldn’t be bothered to check her schedule the night before.

As I was leaving on my last day, she called after me, “And I’ll wait for you to re-friend me!”

Oh. No. That is NOT going to happen.

*cue Taylor Swift* “We are never ever EVER… getting back together.”

I have had the great good fortune of having some bosses that I genuinely liked—even loved!—as individuals. It’s so nice to keep in touch with them via social media now. The operative word being “now.” Because I no longer work for them.

Some bosses have serious boundary issues. They may want to try to be your friend, but they need to hold you accountable for the job you’re paid to do. Some have the discretion to recognize how their attempted chumminess can creep into invasiveness, nosiness, and over-reliance—but many don’t. It throws the working relationship off its axis.

Nosy children

I work in a school with teenagers so social media is FRAUGHT for me. I enjoy using it, but every single account I have is as private as possible because teens are curious and boundaries are important. I’ve allowed a few kiddos to friend and/or follow me well after graduation… but even that is generally only for students I have a close relationship with.

Honestly it does keep me on my best behavior, because 99.9% of the time I’m not doing anything interesting enough to be spread around. The only notable instance of my pictures or whatever getting posted in a student group chat were my wedding pictures, and I was pretty okay with that. 

But I have a few friends in my orbit who have a good amount of followers for one reason or another, and occasionally it’s led to a very ~interesting~ conversation with a kid who saw me in an Instagram story or such over the weekend with them bursting in with “HOW DO YOU KNOW so and so!?”

One of my close friends became a teacher in the last few years. She changed all of her social media handles to make her name a bit more obscure, for exactly this reason.

Same root issue of the overstepping boss here: you can’t be friends with children online, because children ain’t got no boundaries. I know this because when I was lifeguarding in high school, some ten-year-old girls stole my bra and panties out of my swim locker AND TOOK TURNS PUTTING THEM ON.

If you work in a setting where you have to be “on” and “professional” all the time, you need to be able to let your hair down somewhere.

Awkward invitations

I was once fired from a small “tight knit” organization. (Side note: if your employer is constantly touting the “family atmosphere” while treating people like shit… run!) I stayed Facebook friends with my coworkers because the problem was the boss, not them.

But one coworker constantly invites me to like the org’s Facebook page or campaigns and once sent a fundraising DM to me. I’m sure he just sent it to all his friends but, umm, no…

And another…

Three letters: MLM.

MLM has infected social media.

I’m a blocker. If you send me shit like…

  • Invitations to every single event you’re involved in
  • Incessant requests for donations
  • “Invitations” to brown-nose by sharing company news or using company hashtags on my personal account
  • Anything that smells even a little like MLM

… son, I will block your ass so fast Steve Rogers will be begging me to take his place as shield-bearer in tHe FiGhT fOr FrEeDoM. But for people who dread conflict, the endless unwanted invitations are nightmare fuel.

Obvious lies

In college, I worked a retail job at a nearby mall. One of my coworkers texted me to see if I could cover his shift. I said I couldn’t—I had a big writing assignment due that week, and I really needed to focus on my schoolwork. Plus, it was really short notice—less than twenty-four hours.

But then he told me the reason he needed coverage: his father had died, and he needed to help his family plan the funeral.

My own father had died the previous year. So hearing him say that really brought back my own feelings of loss. I’d had so many people help carry me through those awful first days, and I wanted to pay it forward. So I told him of course I would cover his shift.

I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to finish my writing project, and showed up bright and early for his shift. But I guess that guy forgot that we were friends on Facebook. Because he tagged himself in photo after photo, at some kind of music festival.

I have no idea if his father is actually dead, or if that was just an insane lie he made up. I wanted to confront him about it, but I knew I wouldn’t be at this job that much longer, so I just avoided him until I quit.

It sounds stupid, but it really hardened my heart. I tried to be empathetic towards him but he used me to go see fucking Green Day.



Bullying and harassment

My industry relies on good relationships with vendors. I’ve had two coworkers threaten to go after our vendors, through their personal social media, to get back at them for perceived slights. Cringe.

It’s unprofessional. Because when it happens, it does get linked back to our company.

It’s also kinda braggy. “I have soooo many followers, tread lightly or I’ll sic them on you!” Plus it’s unrealistic! Do they really think their petty drama is interesting enough to go viral? It brings the coworkers down a few pegs in my estimation each time…

This is an example from the shallow end of the harassment pool. (I hate that pool. Nothing but pee in there.)

It’s never a good look to take professional conflicts personally. But some people—many of them Karens or Karens-in-training—weaponize social media. This patron is dead-ass right when they say that it makes them harder to respect. There’s nothing powerful or mature about threats.

Here’s more of our dead-right advice on navigating this sort of toxicity on social media:

Deliberate snubs

I started my first job out of college at the same time as four other girls. We went through orientation and training together, and spent a ton of time hanging out, both at work and after work. I knew we were verging on being a clique, which I know is unhealthy. But I really felt like they were sisters to me. We took vacations together, and talked about being bridesmaids at each other’s weddings someday.

Then one day, I opened my phone and saw them all hanging out together without me. It was like a switch flipped. They stopped inviting me out. I don’t know if I said something wrong, or did something wrong… because I never got an explanation.

I don’t work there anymore (thank god). But I still think about it all the time. It was like being in high school. I had no choice: we had to see each other every day and pretend to be friendly, even though they’d clearly decided they didn’t want me anymore. It was awful.

This one made me so sad.

I’m sorry you went through that, sweet patron.

It’s great to be friendly with coworkers. But trying to be actual friends could lead to hurt feelings and heartbreak.

Obligatory restatement of the Bitches Get Riches thesis: your boss is not your friend, your coworkers are not your family, and your job is not your life. I try to keep coworkers at arm’s length unless a true friendship is utterly inevitable. I’ve found that it simplifies my life, protects me from unnecessary drama, and ensures that I’m never contributing to a clique-y work environment.

Because, I agree: cliques fucking suck.

Was social media a thing during Mean Girls???

Political feuds

Oh. My. God. My workplace. During the 2016 election. Hell on earth.

It’s a small office, so we’re pretty much all friends on Twitter and Facebook. But we’re all different ages and backgrounds, soooooooo obviously there were some differences of opinion. Fine! Whatever! But it got so intense when people started commenting on articles the other person had shared, and those fights started to bleed into real life in the office.

By the end of the election, everyone lost their goddamn marbles. The worst was the day after the election. Half of the office was dead silent and depressed; the other half was hooting and crowing and being generally awful. Even though one coworker was CRYING! Because she was scared of what would happen to her sister-in-law, who’s a Dreamer!

I’ve since dialed WAY back on social media. I deleted my Facebook and rarely use Twitter anymore. If this election cycle is as bad as the last one, I’m quitting my job and moving to a hole in the ground, because I CAN’T. DO. THIS. AGAIN.

SHE’S COMING IN HOT AND TOPICAL TODAY! Oh boy can I relate to this.

Few things are as bitterly disappointing as seeing the kindly mom-energy admin in your office sharing memes about “snowflakes” and “illegals” and “blue lives matter.”

When that’s happened to me, I’ve quietly unfriended the person. I think people rarely notice when they’re unfriended by an acquaintance. (How often do you inventory your followers?) And I’m prepared to say, if confronted, “Yeah bruh, the political stuff you share bummed me out too much.”

SJWs of Bitch Nation, hear me: You’re not obliged to try to politically convert your coworkers. It is not in the nature of your relationship. If you are hot to evangelize a certain perspective, focus that energy on people you don’t have a professional relationship with—friends, family, people you share hobbies with, online communities, etc.

In the workplace, I think it’s better to be passive. (Wow, there’s a phrase I never expected to come out of my mouth!) As much as I want to go through some flip-charts about why we need Medicare for all with each and every living being I encounter, I would be horrified to be on the receiving end of some MAGA spiel I couldn’t escape because its spewer was in the cubicle next to me. It’s easier, more respectful, and (I think) more effective to limit yourself to being a living example of your own values.

Bitch Nation, I know y’all are navigating this awkward intersection of social media and work. Tell us your stories below!

And thanks as always to our Patreon donors for suggesting this topic!

13 thoughts to “You WILL Regret Accepting Your Coworker’s Social Media Friend Request”

  1. Sort of in this vein but maybe maybe not: what to ask for in a mentoring relationship (when you’re the mentee?)

    1. Oh, what a good idea! I will definitely add a mentoring/menteeing relationship post to the short list. Because I suddenly have a lot of mentees at my day job, and it’s very clear that there’s some confusion!

      Here’s the short version: YOU as the mentee must know what you want (or need) to get out of a mentoring relationship, and communicate that need directly to your mentor. Good examples include:

      • “I need help networking within the company/industry. Can you suggest some good people to meet and introduce me to them?”
      • “I think I want to have a job like yours someday. Can you tell me how you got to where you are now, and make some recommendations about the best ways to advance?”
      • “I thrive on honest feedback. Can you help me identify areas where I could improve?”
      • “I have a really vexing relationship with my coworker/manager/supplier/client. Can you coach me on ways to manage conflict and difficult people?”
      • “I’m very new at this job, and I don’t know many people. Can I reach out to you occasionally, just to chat?”

      Once you’ve communicated that goal, you can pretty much sit back and let your mentor steer the ship!

  2. I have two Twitter accounts, and one of them is strictly fun, while the other is semi-professional and I follow a few of my coworkers from there. It’s generally working out pretty well, but I know that it’s because they are all fairly private people who maintain boundaries very well. The most intimate conversation resulting from this social media connection was my boss complimenting me on a hat I was making for my gf after I posted a photo of the work in progress the evening before.

  3. Me at work: what is a “social media”?

    Me on social media: Well, you know me here 😀

    I could never ever be on social media with coworkers. I remember the last 2 months of one of my jobs where the deliberate snub thing happened, at my own farewell party, the girls made plans to go out afterward right in front of me. I didn’t actually want to spend time with them so I was ok with it but it definitely showed me their pettiness and I knew that I’d remember that for a long time after.

    I became friendly with new coworkers, a few jobs later, and found out that she was just using our “friendship” to slander and undermine me behind my back. I refused to accept HER stupid invitation to be on LinkedIn. The jerk. But they were in the early days of social media and I’m glad it happened when it did. I took my lumps early and that’s protected me ever since.

    1. There’s something to be said for living and learning! I think once you’ve seen a personal life/work life collision up close, the advantages to segregation are obvious.

      …Which is a quote I look forward to hearing out of context when I run for office in 2064.

  4. I had a lot of great friends at work. And even though I was the boss I still cared about them. I didn’t care about their politics nor they mine. If you can’t be equally good friends with a Trump and a Sanders supporter and understand why they both feel the way they do then you are the insensitive one too busy to really care about your coworkers. But I stayed off of social media at all times. I didn’t read others or publish my own. It seemed like a shallow senseless way to communicate to people who only had a slight interest in you at best.

  5. This is why I maintain my ‘real’ social media accounts under a pseudonym, and my ‘safe for work and (some) family’ accounts in my real name. My real friends know my pseudonym, but coworkers don’t – unless I do actually consider them a friend.

  6. I work in a small pathology lab and so essentially have four bosses- the CEO whose office is next door to the lab, and the three pathologists. One of the doctors absolutely cannot understand that he is our boss, and I have to constantly remind him. He wants to be very close and buddy-buddy with some of us (because we’re the shit, and also I think because he’s significantly younger than the other two doctors and feels like he can relate to us better than he can them. Also also, boundary issues) and I have to constantly tell him “you are our boss”. It’s hard, because I enjoy him a lot! I think he’s funny and generally pleasant, his kids are sweet! But like, I personally really need him to understand the power imbalance between him and the rest of us, because I think it hurts his feelings when we don’t want to dish with him like we do each other about this that and the other thing. Plus, I don’t trust like that. Even if I enjoy him as a person, I don’t really need my boss knowing personal details about me and my life. I tried to explain to him as gently as possible, “Dr XX, you can fire me. I can’t fire you. Do you understand?” And he deadass went “Not really”. I have no idea how else to handle this situation, beyond repeating myself over and over.

    1. Oh man. That is awkward as hell.

      I have encountered this species in the wild only once or twice. They’ve always been like…relatively cool ex-hippie boomers who are deeply uncomfortable acknowledging that they are now Powerful Olds. You’ve explained yourself SO CLEARLY. If he really claims to not understand, it’s his hangup to work through. You are very prudent; continue to be that way; you will not regret it.

  7. Back in 2009 a coworker said to me “I don’t friend coworkers on FB” at first I was taken aback and then I thought about it for a day and decided it seemed like a good idea. Now after over a decade of following this policy I have seen work friendships strained, managers use social media to stalk and fire employees, and employee do stupid things that everyone knew about because they were all friends on social media. I’m so glad that former coworker said that to me and it made such an impression. We are social media friends now!

    1. I love this story and this policy. And I do the same thing! I don’t send any friend requests for coworkers. If I get them, I decline and tell them in person “oh, it’s nothing personal, I don’t add any current coworkers!” The day after I’ve left a company, I will immediately add however many people I genuinely liked and would want to stay friends with outside of work.

      Also, an unexpected plus: I’ve been told that this practice gives me “an air of mystery.” And who doesn’t love being told they’ve got “an air of mystery?!”

  8. Full disclosure: I am afflicted with a terminal case of oh-for-crying-out-loud-do-we-have-to that flares up every time a new social media platform bounces out. I also grew up in a household where the Sensible Adults were themselves computer geek adjacent, so I spent my teen years being told, “if you wouldn’t want it reprinted in the classified section of the newspaper, it doesn’t belong online”.

    It has served me well.

    My current boss tried to friend me on Facebook once. I think the invite is still sitting there because I’d rather pretend I just haven’t looked at my friend requests in eighteen months, instead of explaining that I took one look at her profile picture and logged off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *