Recently, Facebook users have noticed that when you add a new friend, you also get a message that looks like the person wrote to you.
The red notification causes a surge of hope, or at least curiosity, that this new friend had something nice or meaningful to say. But it’s just an automated delivery that’s actually from Facebook, not the Facebook user. And all it says is, “You are now connected ...”
Are you? If anything, the empty message drives home a sense of certainty that you aren’t actually connected in any way that even begins to be meaningful, and you likely never will be. But it would be weird if the message said that.
“You are now connected” really means “You now have the opportunity to become connected.” Facebook would like you to start a conversation using the Facebook Messenger app, a Facebook product. But few people do. Connectedness requires work, and it means opening yourself to rejection and humiliation. And what is there to talk about with someone you don’t know very well? If you did have something truly funny or insightful to say, why not post it where everyone could see it?
If Facebook seriously wanted to get people talking on the Facebook Messenger app, it would send a more provocative message.