Twitter might be the abode of witty comebacks and humour, and Instagram might have all the puff and fluff, but Facebook rules where the numbers are concerned. The leading social media platform combines an eclectic mix of fun and seriousness that is hard to find in other virtual communities. The proof is in the almost 2 billion active users it boasts of – far higher than the combined number of active users its rivals have. Facebook’s goal of connecting family and friends is the chief reason it remains the preferred platform for the majority. In these times where more people interact online than physically, it’s not unusual to have more virtual friends compared to “real” friends.
However, with a leeway for each individual to accept to 5,000 friends, there’s the ever-increasing likelihood of letting in “wolves” disguised as sheep. Ever read or post or views by a Facebook friend which has you wondering when and how you became “friends” with the individual? I am sure we all have.
The reasons for accepting or declining a friend request should transcend confirming that you have 10 or 50 friends in common. In choosing your friends on Facebook (and this will also work for most of the other platforms) there are certain factors you should consider. Before hitting the confirm button, pause to determine if the requester falls into any of these categories:
The Original Thinker: There are too many people who have been bitten by the “Copy” and “Paste” bug on social media in general, and Facebook, in particular, has them in droves. It’s why you would find some people’s timeline looking like a war-torn zone. They share everything they come across. They are the Kings and Queens of recycled broadcasts and flat jokes. It doesn’t matter if the post has gory scenes or nude pictures, they will share it without batting an eyelid. These set of people are also quick to adopt a popular opinion without stopping to consider whether it really aligns with their personal beliefs or not. Because of their penchant for jumping on the bandwagon, you’ll never learn anything new from them. Expecting a fresh or authentic perspective on issues from these individuals is like waiting for a crab to blink. You just might be waiting forever. Make friends with people who share original opinions, those are the real ones.
The Humourous: A good dose of laughter never hurts anyone. You should have a few friends who spread positive energy through humour. In a world where bad news is never short and there’s always one challenge or issue on the front burner, I cannot stress enough, the importance of being friends with those who share light-hearted banter from time to time. These friends are especially good for you if you are more inclined to post serious stuff. Sometimes, you’ll need a break from that headspace that has you constantly on the edge because your commentaries and interactions tend towards serious issues. Accept the guys who almost never take things to heart as friends, they are good for your mental health.
The Controversial: You need one or two friends who are always at the centre of some controversy. Even though they run the risk of coming across as deliberately seeking attention, it’s the same quality that makes them stand out from the pack. Controversial people are as interesting as they are intriguing. With a few of them as friends, your timeline is never going to be boring because it’s never long before they are in the news again. The best part of this is that the implications or consequences of their mischief will never rub off on you because…you guessed right – you are only virtual friends with them!
The Dissenting Voice: There are too many “Yes men” dot the social media landscape. While they may make you feel good about yourself, they are also fake and untrustworthy. You’ll also never learn anything new from them. Instead, you’ll get the same old “Spot on!”, “Gbam!”, “You hit the nail on the head” comments any time you put up a post. They bring nothing new to the table. Friends whose views are often at variance with our widely held beliefs give us a different perspective on things. They may be a little too much sometimes, but are more often than not, a fresh breath in a world where everyone seeks to be politically correct.
The Colleague: It’s Facebook, and you can make friends with people from different parts of the world. However, it makes plenty of sense to have a good number of people who share the same the passion with you. So, for instance, I am a writer, therefore, I consciously look to make friends with people who are writers too. It’s a no-brainer why. I can learn from them and we can share and support each other’s work in and out of the online community. The people in your industry are one set of people you should give some preference when you have to actively make or accept friends on social media.
A healthy mix of friends from each of these categories will colour your online world and enrich your life in more ways than one.