I have a liberal policy toward Facebook friend requests. Priests from Santa Clara, college kids from Boston, teens from Poughkeepsie, moms from Atlanta, fashion models from Paris, missionaries from Libya: I accept them all.
That doesn’t mean I read everything they write. I block games and applications, for example—so if you’re cleaning my fish tank every week, God bless you, but don’t expect me to reciprocate by feeding your black phantom tetras. If you’re reaching new levels in Mafia Wars, don’t expect my personal congrats, because I don’t know the first thing about starting a crime family.
I scan the news my friends post, reading some of the most compelling stories in politics, religion, culture, family life. I “share” some of it, laugh at their jokes, get misty-eyed when they show off their new baby.
But I have standards. I have a zero-tolerance policy toward obscenity on my wall because, frankly, it embarrasses me. There are one or two exceptions to this rule—think of it as “missionary friending” because I believe the offending individual has a good heart and I hope he/she will notice that others have a broader vocabulary.
I accept prayer requests, and I pray for people who are facing life-threatening surgery, or who have a job interview in the morning, or who have a migraine that just won’t quit.
But sometimes, I just can’t go there.
So today, I am releasing my Facebook Manifesto.
- I will not support a cause for which I have no proof. Therefore, if you open a chat box every evening, weeping because the 17 orphans in your care have no food, I will be forced to unfriend you.
- I will not open a link which has a “Content Warning” at its opening page. If you send adult content with the expectation that I’ll open it, I will be forced to unfriend you.
- I will not accept marriage proposals on-line. (Seriously!) I am very happily married. If you invite me to get to know you better, if you send photos of yourself shirtless, if you tell me you’re just what I’ve been waiting for, I will be forced to unfriend you.
- I will not accept friend requests from prison. (Seriously!)
- I will not accept gifts using apps which require me to release my personal information and my friends’ personal information.
- I will not permit your homeless friend to sleep on my couch. (Seriously!) If you write to me from Africa and ask me to welcome your good buddy to live at my house, I will be forced to unfriend you.
Having gotten all of this off my chest, I’ve gotta say: Facebook has opened a window to some great friendships. I’ve met some of the finest folks, friends who have met me for dinner, donated books to my church, offered advice on consumer issues, inspired me by their faith and their fortitude, and taught me much about Life. Thanks, guys!