Facebook Follies: Enlarging your circle of friends one click at a time

By Tom Stephens

About six months ago, I initiated a new Facebook policy for myself. As the social media site was continually suggesting new friends for me, I decided to send friend requests only to those who met one of two criteria: My prospective pal and I must have 50 or more mutual friends or exactly one mutual friend between us before they get a request from me on Facebook. Three mutual friends or forty-seven mutual friends doesn’t cut it. It’s one or it’s 50 with me, baby. We live on the edge here in west central Ohio.

A friend of mine I’ve known in real life (RL to you kids and editors) for years hung on the cusp of Facebook friendliness for sometime, stagnating in the upper forties as far as mutual friends went. I told him about my new policy and he sent me a friend request before he reached the magic 50 mark on my end, knowing full well that I am loath to give a thumbs down any request sent my way. I’m certain that he did it to give me a figurative finger-in-the-eye, but since I never cared much for him to begin with, now I’ll get even with him on Facebook. I’m sharpening my poison pen as we speak. He’s gonna wish he stood in bed the day he screwed with my new policy.

But I digress.

As one can imagine, the vast majority of those with whom I have 50 or more mutual friends are people who live in a 20-mile radius of where I now sit. They mostly consist of RL friends, RL friends of my RL friends, and people I’ve been avoiding for the past 20 years. All were sent friend requests and, surprisingly, all accepted. Now I can duck those same people online as well as at Kroger.

I’ve also ‘met’ some wonderful people using my one mutual friend policy. Chelsie is a young lady who was very seriously injured in an automobile accident, one that claimed the life of the young man she loved. Thanks to our “one mutual” connection, we’ve become friends for real, and I’ve come to admire the aplomb and humor she’s shown during her long and difficult recovery. I’ve been both rooting for her and poking fun at her pajama bottoms since we first connected. She’s doing better every day.

Lil Soulja is just a “county boy from LaSalle Parish” who posts infrequently, but when he does bats he bats about 1.000 with me, whether he’s calling out the perpetrators of domestic violence (“If you think that beating a woman makes you a man it don’t it makes you a coward”), or hating on the haters (“u cant make someone fake be real jus saying”). Can’t argue with that.

Merry in Colorado wondered why she was getting a friend request from some nut in Ohio with an inappropriate profile picture. She later admitted – after she found that I am harmless – that she had initial concerns about my sanity, but our one mutual friend assured her that I had little or no sanity to begin with, so things worked out nicely. My most recent request that was accepted was from Lihn, a young lady who is part of the Ministry of Defense in Vietnam. Seriously, how cool is that?

But this is a blade that cuts both ways. There are approximately 500,000 non-technical words in the English language, but the only one I can find that really fits my one mutual friend policy is “wow”. I might even go as far as “wow-wee”.

Also among my new Facebook friends are people who cover the full range of the political spectrum, many of them sitting either to the left of Joe Stalin or the right of Genghis Khan. Several are single issue posters, meaning that they stick to one subject 100 percent of the time. These single issues include guns, abortion, cats, guns, socialism (both pro and con), guns, GMOs, recipes for pork, and guns. Another friend posts in straight street idiom, claiming to be OG and a playa, yet according to his profile pic may be the whitest dude on the planet. Yet another spends a lot of time on Facebook calling out her various love interests on their many, many shortcomings. Grammar is not her strong point, but details are, and she is not shy about sharing them in language that would draw a Triple “R” rating from the MPAA. I hope no one reports her use of a certain four-letter word (and its various forms) because her posts are equally horrifying and hilarious.

But at the risk if sounding like a real creepazoid, a majority of my new friends that were ‘one mutual’ fit into one category, that being one of young women in various states of undress, in most cases crowding the line between what is and what is not acceptable on Facebook.

To be clear, I didn’t start this experiment in the hopes of hooking up with a ‘model’ in Las Vegas or Sweden, or anywhere else for that matter. But policy is policy. If these young women who are my new friends feel that it’s necessary to post pics of themselves in bikinis that cover less acreage than a postage stamp, I support and applaud them in their endeavors. Hey, that’s what any good friend would do.

I plan to continue my “50, 1, or none” policy, but have embarked on a new Facebook challenge: It is my intention to get a Facebook friend in North Korea.

I’ve already dug around a little, and finding a Facebook connection in North Korea may require more time than I’m willing to invest. Internet access is banned from 99% of the population in North Korea.

But with a population of 25 million souls, that means about 250,000 people there should looking for a friend request from me near future.

By Tom Stephens

Tom Stephens is a western Logan County resident and can be reached via email at tommyrot1962@hotmail.com

Tom Stephens is a western Logan County resident and can be reached via email at tommyrot1962@hotmail.com