In this age of Facebook it’s all about numbers. Who has the most “friends?” How many friends are mutual between you and somebody else — and anybody else? How many likes do your friends have on their posts? And my favorite — how many friend requests are pending, how long have they been in stasis, and why?
I have no problem having “friends” I’ve never met in person before. I call them my acquaintances. I am acquainted with their names, and sometimes other things about them too, before I accept them into my world. I’ve noticed that often times these friends become even more dear to me than the ones I actually know in the flesh. I wonder why that is. But anyway…
There are four general types of friend requests I encounter:
- Friends of friends. I may post a witty comment in response to something one of my friends said, and before I know it I have a few of their friends requesting the pleasure of my friendship. Depending on my mood I might accept them, but more often than not, unless it is one of my close friends who is the mutual, I let it sit in limbo.
- Forgotten friends. These are the folks whose names I don’t recall off-hand, either because it’s been so long, or they were such a small part of my life even when I did know them. I don’t feel particularly bad about having to dredge my memory for a fragment of them, but if it’s been that long I don’t really know what they bring to the table now. I usually accept them out of a sense of obligation.
- Prior generations. I’m always on the fence about whether or not to accept these people as “friends” because I knew them when I was young and they were adults then. Now they’re all on social media, they think they’re hip, and somehow I showed up as “people they might know.” They care about the numbers so they send out a request… that I usually ignore.
- “Not-even” friends. Every so often I get friend requests from people who don’t fit either of the categories above. We share no mutual friends. Their names don’t ring any sort of bells. The only reason I would accept them is if I care about the above numbers, if I’m concerned enough about them to warrant a bit of randomness in my world. I’m usually not.
At any given time I have several friend requests pending, and I try to check on them every now and then. Of course the longer they sit there, collecting dust, the more I’m sure the sender is deciding that I just won’t accept them. Maybe I would be better served just going with my gut on each one as they come in instead of letting them sit around. I can always unfriend someone later if I’m not pleased with the things they post.
Right now, at this very moment, I have three friend requests floating out there, all of which have been hanging out for a while, waiting for some kind of acceptance from me. I’m sure at some point I’ll get back to them.