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Workplace Trends: The Facebook "Enemies" App

Tired of "friending" people on Facebook? Wouldn't it be great if you could find your enemies instead and label them as one of your, well, "enemies"? Now you can!

A graduate student and a professor of emerging media at the University of Dallas at Texas were tired of Facebook's "all sunshine and no rain" approach to creating and maintaining connections. Everything on Facebook is so damn positive all the time, from our list of friends to our most recent status update about how awesome our kid is doing lately. Just stop it already, will you? If you don't stop posting status updates filled with glitter rainbows and fluffy purple unicorns, the rest of us cynics are going to have to hide you or "de-friend" you.

And what about all our old enemies from high school, past jobs and past relationships that Facebook keeps recommending as new "friends"? Just seeing their thumbnail photo in the upper right-hand corner of the page can be cringe-inducing. Facebook's all-good-all-the-time approach hasn't really allowed a way for us to call them out on their conniving ways, but here comes our friendly friends in Texas academia who have created something called EnemyGraph, a plug-in/application that will let us "enemize" people on Facebook. You know who your enemies are, so why shouldn't the entire world know, too? Civility is becoming such a quaint notion, and we've all seen the recent battle over Facebook's non-existent dislike button. According to a Chronicle of Higher Education interview with Professor Dean Terry, the UDT co-creator of the app:
Real-world relationships are more complicated than that, so social networks should be too, the scholar argues. He's not alone—more than three million people have voted for a "dislike" feature on an online petition on Facebook.

But Mr. Terry has decided to take action, protesting the ethos of Facebook by literally rewiring the service. Or at least, adding the ability to declare "enemies."

"It's social-media blasphemy, in that we're suggesting that you share differences you have with people and share things that you don't like instead of what you do like," he told me last week. "I think social media needs some disruption. It needs its shot of Johnny Rotten."

Hmm. Would keeping it real be better than the watered-down pop music dyspepsia found in many a Facebook post? I don't know. My musical taste has been going downhill ever since our grade schooler discovered bands with names like "Big Time Rush" and CDs with names like "Kids Bop 19."

The big question is: What will Facebook think? And if this plug-in eventually plugs into our daily routines in a big way, could it lead to less or more workplace bullying? What would managers do with co-workers or ex-employees who "enemize" each other, a customer, or worse -- them? Oy, vey. Talk about virtually redefining the modern meaning of hostile work environment.

We'll see what happens. In the meantime, know thy enemy. Or at least start revising your list.


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