Thursday, January 22, 2009
Facebook Friends - How many is too many?
Having many Facebook friends is widely regarded to be preferable to having few Facebook friends. This is incorrect, and I will endeavor to explain why.
First, allow me to clear up a common misconception. I am not a misanthrope. In real life, I enjoy having many friends and meeting new people. I am even amenable to small talk with strangers I will never see or hear from again in all likelihood. People are wonderful.
However, Facebook friends are not people. They are content providers, and Facebook is the content portal. Just like you would not add every available module to My Yahoo or iGoogle, you should not accept every friend request that is sent to you.
There are a few important questions that should be asked before accepting a friend request.
1) Do I know this person? Or, based on their profile picture, would I like to?
2) Do I want to know what this person is up to on a regular basis?
3) Is this person likely to post interesting content, such as pictures of me?
4) Does accepting this request obligate me to accept requests from other people (The High School Conundrum)?
5) Will my other friends be impressed that I know this person?
Even after you have chosen to accept a friend request, your work may not be done. It may turn out that someone who otherwise seemed like a normal, stable person is the type of Facebooker to update their status every 3 seconds or post pictures of their cat wearing antlers. As painful as it may be, your only option is to defriend this person. Your best bet is to wait until their status clearly shows them distracted, such as "OMG the Bahamas are AWSUM!", which will reduce the likelihood they will notice the change in their Friend count.
You may be asking yourself, "what's the harm in just ignoring their updates?" Well, dear reader, the problem is the opportunity cost. Their is a limited amount of real estate on your Facebook updates page, and I am quite sure you have a limited amount of time to read. Heaven forbid you should miss a hilarious picture of yourself in your best 80's garb because some so-called friend has decided to post the same Youtube video you've seen 100 times.
Now, Facebook does have many options for limiting profile access, changing update frequency for certain people, etc... but this is an outrageous imposition on your time and should be avoided at all costs. The only people to go to these great lenghts for are your mother (For God's sake, she spent 18 hours in labor and you're not going to take two seconds to click "see less from this person"? What kind of a monster are you?"), mentally unstable people, or anyone who might be both.