In FB terminology, we can ‘unfriend’ someone, and then ‘refriend’ them. But can we ‘friend someone’ on a social media network?
Three years ago when Dr Benjamin Au Yeung and Paul Sze wrote “中英大不同2”, the expression “to friend someone” still didn’t exist. But when I googled it again yesterday, not only were there quite a few instances of the expression (though friend is sometimes put in quotation marks), one Oxford online dictionary had included the expression ‘to friend someone’ under ‘friend’ as a verb (and labelled it as ‘informal’).
Yes, the official Help page on FB still says ‘to add someone as a friend on FB’, but if you’re a teacher of English, you cannot simply reject something like ‘He wanted to friend me but I didn’t friend him back’ spoken by your students any more.
Then, what about the verb ‘befriend’, which has existed for centuries? Well, to friend someone and to befriend someone are two different things. A stranger friended me a few months ago. Not only did he fail to befriend me, he persistently wrote unfriendly comments on my posts. In other words, he friended me, but did not befriend me. Last month, I couldn’t stand it any more and unfriended him. And of course, I won’t refriend him.