To me one of the very best things about Facebook is that it has allowed me to get to know interesting people from all around the globe. And some of these "friends" have actually come to be friends -- with no scare quotes needed.
FB itself endlessly recommends people, based on shared acquaintances ("Friend of a friend's 2nd cousin, once removed") , but frankly I almost never respond to those. No, my new FB Friends most commonly come when either they, or I, take note of an interesting thought* and then search out the person, find that there are several such, become intrigued, and then put in a "friend request."
That process has given me "friends" in far away places I will never likely visit. England, Wales, Australia, Israel, Nigeria. Even Cape Cod!
Because I contribute to quite a few web sources as a writer and commenter, and quite often use my Facebook moniker as my 'sign in,' my thinking -- apparently found intriguing by not a few -- quite often brings me FB "Friend" requests. And of these a few are accepted. (Very few. My total FB "Friends" list presently numbers just 144.)
How do I determine who to accept, who to just say "hi!" to and whose request to simply ignore/delete?
Sometimes, I am a bit ashamed to admit the later happens because I just do not have the time the requester's request fairly deserves. (Just yesterday I got 17 such requests) But when I do have the time I use certain rather subjective filters.
How active is the person? If a requester's FB Timeline is largely blank there is no way for me to make a judgement -- and thus the judgement has to be to reject.
If there is a solid Timeline what does it contain? Family news and photos are for many a key part of the FB experience, and these are meaningful, but only, really, to their friends and family. It's like hearing "Happy Birthday" sung at a restaurant. Such is not meaningless to be sure. But who is it meaningful to? Usually only those at or in the party. Others just smile at the joy being expressed, and then basically tune it out. And so it is with family stuff seen on a "Friend" requestor's timeline.
If I see nastiness as a common theme -- even when it targets people to whom I myself harbor some dislike, those requests too are deleted. Wit I like. Even some gentle sarcasm. But nastiness is just not something I want more of in my life. These I delete.
What does attract me -- and makes me consider hitting the "Accept" button -- are people who have interesting, positive, thoughts that will both inform me and brighten my day. And if there are shared interests -- the person is a musician, for instance, or an artist -- well those things in combination make me take note, and some of the time, say "yes."
These filters are real and thought through, but they are not infallible. I am sure that there have been some wonderful people, with much to offer, whose friendship I have missed.
But isn't that true throughout life in this big, beautiful and highly varied world?
Life is short. Too bad we seem to get only one.
(Hmm.... Maybe I need some thoughtful and convincing Hindu friends.)
*Good word that -- "Thought." Google it and see!