Poking Straight Guys On Facebook

It would not be unfair to say that I’ve spent a fair number of the weekends of my life “poking guys”.    Yet I must say that this Facebook era brings a very different meaning to that phrase.  My buddy Nitin was my first serious poking partner on Facebook.   No matter what time of the day or night I logged in,  there was a notification that Nitin has poked you.   And I always poked back.  And he’d poke me again and lather, rinse repeat.       Unlike those earlier weekends of poking more…..tactile friends,  these poke fests with Nitin never seemed to come to any sort of climax or uhhh conclusion.

Over time,  I found myself also frequently poking my dear friend Jake.   At first I always clicked and poked back just as soon as the little notice thingy came up.   But as I found myself poking more and more people,  none of whom I ever have or likely ever will meet face to face,  and who would at the very least have been frankly uninterested in the sort of poking I used to do so much of when I was a younger man, I’ve actually started returning all pokes only once or twice a day.   And sometimes,  it still seems such an odd way to pass the time.    I have asked most everyone who has ever poked me,  what the point or purpose is,  though honestly in all of those pokes I only got one answer that made much sense.

A friend who would probably prefer not to be named and linked told me that the Poke button was meant as a way of getting someone’s attention.    Like if they were ignoring a hot thread in a forum they were usually all over or if they hadn’t responded to something you posted to their wall a few days ago,  the Poke button could be used to say in effect “hey man,  pay attention and answer me already”.    My friend thinks most Facebook users these days are ignorant of online history.   And he certainly seems correct that most of the people who go around poking each other for hours on end don’t really think about what it means at all.

What about you?   Have you  Poked anyone on Facebook?   Do you think  it means anything?


49 comments on “Poking Straight Guys On Facebook

      • Feel much better after a good night’s sleep. Thanks. 🙂

        Also, as to the poke, I wish it was called something else, but I use it. It’s a convenient way to say, “I don’t have anything to say, but I’m thinking about you.” To me, it is not sexual in ANY way. If there WAS a sexual connotation, I would DEFINITELY not just “Poke” gals. I ADORE my wife, and I will hug & poke & do all that stuff with both genders because I NEVER want to be flirting. I never want to risk the chance that people would think there was ANYONE for me other than my wife. It’s a boundary I have in place because I love my wife. I just wish more guys were comfortable with expressing affection.

      • I think you make a great point that affection need not be in any way sexual. I can’t say that the sexual part of my life has never been something I’ve done online, but I will say that none of what I post on Facebook has anything at all to do with my sex life, which is elsewhere.

      • I agree with Jake’s interpretation and use of the “poke” – it is mainly just a quick way of saying “Hey, was thinking about you … nothing specific, just saying hello”

  1. LMFAO at this post Alan! I never, ever thought that poking someone on FB was a subtone for a sexual thing. Too funny. While reading your post, I first thought “Oh my gosh, who have I poked?” Then, “Who would think it was anything but a fun little thing that is nothing more than a little hello?”

    I guess I am one who thinks it means “Hey dude, what’s up?” . . .wonder what my pokers and pokees think . . . . 🙂

    • mmmm. In my experience the word “poke” is sometimes used as a euphemism for phuquing. imho, the humor comes from dichotomy of folks who are just saying hello with folks who think it sounds dirty 🙂

  2. I’ve never used the poke button on facebook and I never will. The reason for it that your unnamed friend gave resonates with me, but given that the thing on facebook is completely divorced from any context, it is meaningless. If i want to call your attention to something I believe you to have missed, it would be much more efficient to post a link to your wall.

    I have to confess that i also did take the meaning as poking someone with a finger for the purpose of gaining their attention and I find that the rudeness of such an act transfers for me into the digital act.

    • imho, many folks often forget or fail to realize that the real people they interact with online have pretty much the same expectations for things like manners and consideration that the people they deal with face to face do.

  3. Wow. What a stunning revelation (that there might actually be a reason for that feature). I wonder if anyone uses it that way? And if so, how the recipient could possibly tell those purposeful pokes from the dozens of random ones.

    • Tiffany, I regard my friend’s comment as an historical footnote. Pretty much everyone else I’ve spoken with either finds poking amusing, or as you do an annoyance.

  4. My grandson like to ‘poke’ me when he’s done well on an exam. Sometimes, he’ll poke for poking’s sake. Two days ago an older gentleman, whom I know, poked me. That was interesting.

    In the main, aside from my grandson, I rarely poke.

  5. Hi, Alan. I know what it means and back in 2006 when I first joined FB, people were poking each other all the time but somehow I never really got into the poking game, they just stopped poking when they noticed I wasn’t poking back. I think it’s ok among good friends as gesture of playful familiarity and goodwill. With strangers, not so. I have this thing about pokes having a sexual or flirtatious subtext and it just feels a bit odd being poked by another guy. Girl pokes always welcome. 🙂

    • Emmanuel,

      I will say first off that I have NEVER poked a guy who didn’t want to be poked. (_really_). But your remark leads me to contemplate the difference between “good friends” and “Facebook friends”. Thanks so much for stopping by today.

    • Evangeline, you don’t actually have to check for pokes. If you have un-returned pokes they will show up in your Facebook sidebar from time to time. And there is no ignore button, so many people I believe poke back simply to make the box go away. If you go to your Pokes screen (via a menu item in the left sidebar on your Home page) you can dismiss pokes without returning them, though doing so enables the other person to poke you Again.

  6. Interesting note: After a previous controversy & conversation about “The Poke,” I posted a FB question/poll–open-ended–that asked for reasons people would give for removing someone from their FB friend list. I had a full spectrum of reasons within the 10 I was able to initially add, and I had a lot of people add other stuff.

    I got a pretty good response to the question. The biggest reason was negativity. Not a single vote for Poking. I found it interesting.

    • That IS interesting, Jake. And when I think about it, negativity is a much better reason for unfriending someone. OTOH, it does seem to me that talking about poking is a sure conversation starter– this post has drawn more comments than any other on this blog so far 🙂

  7. Alan,
    I think we give the poke feature our own meaning and often project that same meaning onto pokes we receive.If I think it’s fun to poke and be poked, then I’ll probably think that you’ll find it fun to poke and be poked.

    If someone I don’t know pokes me I tend to not respond because I don’t know what it means to them. It may mean something to them that I would not like or agree with, meaning that if I poked them back they may project their own meaning onto my poke and before we know it there is a problem…if you get my drift.

    I suppose I wish they’d called the ‘poke’ something different like ‘nudge’, ‘pat on the back’, or ‘Hi5’. That would save me a whole lot of thinking about something that’s only real purpose was to give Mark Zuckerberg some fun statistics to amuse his guests, while they feast on unborn lamb in Moet marinade and ponder how such small things can amuse the masses.

    “Once, when asked to explain what exactly a “poke” was Zuckerberg responded: “We thought it would be fun to make a feature that has no specific purpose… So mess around with it, because you’re not getting an explanation from us.” But if you want to attempt to define it, join “The Official Definition of the Facebook Poke” Group on Facebook. No seriously, it is a REAL group – check it out here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2307041235/

    Thanks for the fun topic Alan and ‘poke’ 🙂

    • The zen of poking. I think you’re definitely on to something here, Gaye. By explicitly refusing to assign any specific meaning to it, Zucky and the FB gang have made the poke very much an eye of the beholder sort of thingy. I will check out that group. And thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a thought-provoking comment.

      • Hi Alan,

        Oh, I see pizza now. How lovely.

        Well, I hope you have fun investigating “The Official Definition of the Facebook Poke” Group on Facebook. Would love to know if you discover anything interesting.

        This is an interesting topic Alan.

        Thank you,


      • Who’s the crazy lady? That’s not pizza. It’s bacon. Now, all we need is a good quiche, aka, “egg and bacon pie.” Sprinkle a little more cheese on top, crisp it up, and I’ll split the difference with Gaye and happily call it “pizza” if she insists. Mmmm.

  8. I really ought to get one of these Facebook thingies. Then again, you humans will do just about any damned thing to avoid writing, speaking, or engaging meaningfully with one another, won’t you? Your old way of poking sounds much more interesting than this rather tepid knock off of the old “hot chat.” Which was, of course, an oxymoron in itself.

    My author says she’s probably got about a thousand pokes – all unnoticed and utterly ignored – somewhere in her Facebook activities log, which she never looks at. And you men spend more time worrying about a woman’s silence – “Is she mad at me?” or “Did my poking her piss her off?” or “What am I, a mind reader? How was I supposed to know it was the third Saturday after the first full moon after your third birthday following the day we met?” – I tell you, there’s a lot going on in their brains, but the reality rarely has as much to do with YOU as you fear it does.

    Or hope it does, for that matter.

    • Prunebutt,

      I can say in all honesty that I almost never spend even a fleeting moment worrying about silent women. Very early on Compu$erve a zillion years ago I made a date to meet someone for “hot chat”. The fact is, no one can type very well at all while engaged in….other activities. (It wasn’t hot at all really. Just dull.)

  9. Pingback: I Need A New Verb | Libdrone's Thoughts and Musings

  10. That’s part of the ‘game.’ After joining EA, I got some poke from time to time. I poke back, they poke back. It just a game. Sometimes, it means where you been, please stop by and say hi, when I was busy with my project.

    • Wow, Teresa. I had honestly never thought of that. Thank you so much for bringing a genuinely useful idea to what has to now been a pretty silly discussion. thank you so much for a great comment.

  11. I just have to admit it – I do NOT get “poking”

    If I wanted to say “hi” to somebody, I will at least say “hi, hope all is well” or “hi, chat later?” etc

    A “poke” bluntly irritates me.

  12. Poking has never been my thing, my forte… back in the day, I poked everyone, even people I had just met with reckless abandon. A lot of people poked me too. Women, men, a honey badger once as well as several cartoon characters. Those were crazy days though when things were different and poking was a fun and innocent way to get close to someone. Now though, there are so many unknowns out there that poking isn’t like it used to be.

    I barely if ever get poked now. Maybe it is a product of my aging and not being as fun to poke as the young gals, or maybe I’ve been poked so much that the fun has gone out of it for everyone – I admit that I hardly if ever respond when being poked anymore. I just sigh, sit there and think about getting to my frontier to feed some imaginary ducks.

  13. Pingback: Poking (as a) Professional Game | Libdrone's Thoughts and Musings

  14. Pingback: Laundry Vacuum Maid | Libdrone's Thoughts and Musings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s