Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Qualifiers

I do a lot of social networking. Because of that, I do a lot of friend-request accepting. Generally I just glance at the person’s profile and think, “eh, no reason not to,” and accept it. There are situations in which I’ve declined – if I can tell you’re a spammy kind of person, if it’s obvious that you just want to have as many “friends” as Facebook will allow, if you have a fake gimmicky name.

I look for certain specific things, though, for no apparent reason. The first thing I always look at is religion. Obviously, since I’m an out and open atheist, I do a little mental high-five when I see that you are one too. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t add you if you aren’t one. I also look at political leanings. Again, whether you agree with me makes no difference. I’m also a picture snooper, and kind of really enjoy browsing the photo albums of people I have never met. It’s a thing. Whatever.

Do you have certain criteria for potential friends? Do you find that you’re more or less likely to accept a friend request from someone based on religion/politics? Do you high-five people with your mind? Do you prefer fist-bumps to high-fives?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.


Chelsea is the proud mama of an amazing toddler-aged girl. She works in the retail industry while vehemently disliking mankind and, every once in a while, her bottled-up emotions explode into WordPress as a lengthy, ranty, almost violent blog. These will be your favorite Chelsea moments. Follow Chelsea on Twitter: chelseaepp.

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  1. I take friends of all types. But it works best if we have overlapping interests somehow. My Christian friends are most likely fellow software engineers for example. This gives us plenty to work on that is in common. Having differences isn’t a bad thing especially on the surface because you get to joke about it without really worrying because it’s out there. I live in a world where a lot of people don’t think like me and it works out.

    I prefer the fist bump when something cool is happening and high fives when something exciting is happening. Fist bumping after checking to see how your friend is doing three days into the divorce is cool. High five him when he sets you really well in recreational volleyball. Sometimes I switch it up at work with a random high five intended to spice up the day and shake of the post noon blues.

  2. Interestingly I’ve never looked at anyone’s Facebook profile. I’ll generally only friend someone who I have met in real life and like. To me a Facebook friend, while short of the intimacy of true friendship, is more personal than other relationships like linked-in or mutual twitter follows (Twitter69?)

  3. To friend me on Facebook you need to either get a backscatter x-ray scan of your body, or one of my agents will frisk you vigorously. If you refuse either, I send you a bill for $10,000 for wasting my time.

  4. Hi there!

    I am a total attention-whore, so unless I see some kind of bright flashing warning signs on someone’s profile, I tend to just add them.

    Recently, I’m starting to regret this, because I’ve come to realize that there are several shades of gray between: “Potential BFF” and “Stalkery Psychopath”. I have a few virtual friends (no one here) that aren’t exactly “creepy”, yet have a tendency to pop up whenever I’m online and speak to me with a degree of familiarity that I’m not entirely sure that I’m comfortable with. It’s not that I’m expecting them to show up at my house with a chainsaw and a twitchy eyelid, but I don’t necessarily want to talk to them EVERY time I sign in to my social media platform of choice.

    For a while, I was seriously thinking about just QUITTING Facebook and Twitter, possibly signing back on under an assumed name. But I really don’t want to lose the cherished friendships that I do have with these networks.

    Plus, I still live under the willful delusion that the larger my social network, the greater my chances that someone will know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Neil Gaiman’s* 2nd cousin’s gardener; and that will of course set off a chain of events that will somehow get me into a Neil Gaiman/Amanda Palmer sandwich. [nods]

    *Feel free to substitute Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt in this scenario.

  5. With a few exceptions I only accept people that I have actually met in the flesh. Otherwise I will give anyone a chance.

    I do not hesitate to delete people who annoy me or who post so little that I forgot they were on Facebook.

    Always a good idea to do periodic housecleaning.

    No real preference between fist bump and high five.

  6. I accept pretty much anyone that requests and then I usually end up ignoring them regardless, unless they send a message to me specifically. Bonus points to cute guys with pictures at the beach.

    The only people that I won’t add are people that I already know and don’t like.

    I’m neutral on the subject of high-five vs. fist bump, but I love lolcats in any form.

  7. “Do you have certain criteria for potential friends? Indeed I do but often it’s a feeling thing. Made-up names and no pictures generally get declines as does a wall with nothing on it except FB game postings. Also if you look like all you want to do on FB is YELL at certain groups of people or religion you’ll get declined. I’m an atheist, but I find folk who are obsessed with endlessly trashing religion tedious. It’s also enjoyable when you find folk on FB who enjoy similar interests; and any skeptic who has golf or cooking listed as an activity or likes Neil Stephenson will get an automatic add.

  8. I have religious friends on facebook, but like @camoguard they’re usually people with whom I share another interest.

    Unless someone seems from their profile to be a bit of a weirdo, I’ll tend to accept their friend request.

    I like neither a high five nor a fist bump but instead prefer a friendly hand shake.

    Am I the only person who feels really weird about sending friend requests to people you don’t know in real life? I know people have said they accept friend requests from anyone, but I’d still feel a little weird doing so. Perhaps its my shyness getting the better of me!

  9. I try to limit my friend accepts to people I actually know though this doesn’t always work out. That is generally the only real requirement, but yeah, I do mental high fives when I see someone has similar interests as I do.

    As to which is better, either as long as it isn’t some complex hand shaking gesture that you expect me to know despite the fact that I have not freaking idea of what the hell you are trying to achieve. Keep it simple!

  10. I don’t accept family. A few exceptions for relatives I’m close to or who are around my age. Definitely no to the under 18’s in the fam.

    I guess my rule is that I will accept you unless letting you read my FB wall would make Christmas uncomfortable.

    I stalled for about a year before deciding to accept my mother’s friendship.

  11. About a year ago, I had a book published by Palladium books. Simultaneously and coorelatively, I had a falling out/disenchantment with Palladium books. So, I have a few people who request my friendship on FB because they know my writing… but most of what I post is about how stupid my customers are, random quotes from books I’m reading or movies I’m watching, and assorted varieties of fart jokes.

    Now, when I get a request from someone who I don’t know (either personally or internetedly), I direct them to the page “Mark Hall, Writer“, which bears the same avatar I use on most message boards (making it more identifiable than my current picture for FB). There, I update on projects I’m working on and ideas I’ve had, games I’m playing and the like… what you might want to see if you’re a fan, instead of what you’re forced to see if you actually know me.

    Conversely, I’ve started doing this with writers and the like that I don’t know personally, once they start a professional page. I like Howard Tayler and Jacqueline Carey, but I don’t really need to know about them taking their dogs for walks, getting their kids to school, or the like.

  12. Somewhat related: Those of you who have a number of religious friends on FB… how do you deal with having something really great-but-anti-religion to post? I’ve more or less gone with the “full speed ahead” option if it’s fact based, but left things that are a bit more opinion-oriented or profane (like, say, The Pope Song) to others to post.

  13. My Internet doesn’t have FaceBook. I use one of those discount service providers. All I can get is FacePamphlet.

    And there is no such thing as a friend request. On FacePamphlet, they only have imaginary friend requests. They never seem to accept the request. Or maybe they do. It’s difficult to know.

    What was the question again?

  14. I have two criteria:

    1) Are you someone I know?
    1a) If we went to school together, do I remember you?

    2) Are you friends with a fellow skeptic?

    If “Yes” is answered to either question (and subquestion), I’ll accept you. Although, I’m thinking about adding a 2a) Are you friends with more than [NAME WITHHELD FOR PRIVACY CONCERNS]

    The person in question is an atheist, but I don’t recall him making a REAL criticism of religion, it just seems like all of his criticisms are little more than it’s something that doesn’t match his existing world-view. I guess I might call this guy a religious atheist. All of his posts about religion seem to be “Religous people are doing X, and X is stupid, therefore religion is stupid.”

  15. @Mark Hall: Generally the way I handle that is if it isn’t overtly nasty/mean-spirited based on my understanding of such, then I’ll post it. Meaning, I won’t post the Pope Song (though that was freaking hilarious) but I might post a quote I find entertaining that is atheistic. I generally stick to fact based posts and more skeptically themed comments as opposed to atheistically themed posts. I also note that most of my posts go unnoticed anyway, so I could pretty much post anything and get away with it. :D

  16. I tend to be pretty open, but if I don’t know them I’ll look at their profile looking for spammers and collectors.

    The groups that I had to think about lately were distant family, and the teenage kids of friends. I honestly don’t know why they’re interested in friending me anyway, but I figure sooner or later they’ll get bored and leave.

    @Mark Hall: I tend to be full speed ahead, too, but I’m not really into obnoxious stuff.

  17. I tend to only accept people I know or play on the FB games although I very rarely get FR. It does not bother me what religion or political view they hold. I do have a look in their pics but my thing is looking where they are I want to know how far away. It that feeling of “oh someone in Usa want to know me”

  18. Facebook is pretty much just friends I have known for years and family, plus some non-individual groups that I “like.” I really need to clean it out though – I added people I went to high school with that really have nothing in common with me now, and I only vaguely remember. And I should never have accepted family members, dangit. :D

    My twitter account I am more lax with – if you look interesting and aren’t a spammy bot I will add you.

    Fist bumps are so cool, but high fives are just ingrained in me as a child of the 70s.

  19. I have 2 simple rules:

    1) No photo, no friend (dogs, cartoon characters, Capt Kirk and mountains don’t count as photos)

    2) If I don’t know you, or at least know some of your friends, no friend (unless you are a hot chick, then I will friend you no questions asked)

  20. I genrally will accept almost anyone, but if they start filling up my wall with garbage they will be dropped. I have a lot of the people on here as FB friends and I have a handful of family and old school friends.

    Oh, and Nathan Fillion (*sqee*)


    and Stana Katic :D

  21. I do linkedin still, because one can generally expect (and get) some civility and self-moderation in a business-contact focused networking site.

    However, I gave up on facebook and tweeting.

    1) Signal-to-noise would be better described as noise-to-signal
    2) Too much emphasis on “transparency” over “privacy”
    3) Everyone and their dog who thinks they know me wants to be my “friend”

  22. I actively avoid people who knew me before I turned 40. Also, I delete anyone who pesters me to start playing Farmville again. Except for that, I’ll accept requests from anybody.

    I am now officially old – I don’t think I’ve fist-bumped anyone ever.

  23. I used to only add people who actually knew me in real life and who I would call actual friends. I definitely am not interested in acquiring countless “friends” who are actually just barely acquaintances just so the world can see how popular I am. Now I will add people who I think I might want to be my friend. I guess that’s the “networking” option facebook gives you that I had previously not considered.

    Now I will add you, as infinitemonkey said, if you are friends with other skeptics that I am friends with. Or if I know you from Skepchick. Or if we met one time at a Humanist or CFI event or something. If you post dumb shit I will most likely start ignoring you, but overall I have found the experience really rewarding. The posts from my skeptic friends who I have never actually met are on the whole funnier and more interesting than those of my real-life (meatspace) friends, and I get exposed to cool and interesting things more often.

    And I am comfortable with both fist-bumbs and high fives where appropriate. Or the hand turkey! That’s totally the best of both worlds! Plus, it’s a turkey you make with your hands!

  24. I accept friend requests from just about anyone, if I know them in real life, or knew them in my past. I will, however, delete friends who do any of the following:
    * Regularly post annoying religious crap
    * Spam their wall with posts from games, or location tracking apps, or whatever without actually posting any content.

  25. I no longer ask people to be my facebook friends. The only people that I turn down are ones that look like they are porn-bots. I am getting ready to delete all the people from high school. I don’t know why I freinded them in the first place all it does is bring up bad memories from the worst time in my life. I was thrilled when people from skepchick started to friend me.

  26. I only request, or accept requests, from people that I have actually met/communicated with. Some of those people I only know electronically, but I do know them so I accept them. About once or twice a year I will do a little light culling of people that I haven’t been in touch with.

    My Twitter is completely open to anyone and the Jenny McCarthy Body Count Facebook Page is open to anyone. Since most of the recent requests are due to the JMBC, having them become fans of that FB page is the easiest thing to do.

  27. I will only accept friend requests from people I have actually met. If I met you through skeptical activities (JREF cruise, Skeptrack at Dragon*Con, etc.) I am more likely to accept your request, even if all we said to each other was “Hi”.

    Other than that, I’ve turned down friend requests from ex-boyfriends, as well as people I apparently went to high school with but don’t remember.

  28. I have a number of facebook friends that I accepted because everyone else in the skeptic community apparently already had (i.e. we have more than 80 friends in common).

    Other than that, only if I know/met you in real life, or someone I know tagged me in your pictures. That last one is also the reason I have friended a lot of people that I don’t really know that well IRL.

    As for profiles, I understand the reason to keep your pictures and other publicly viewable information a little private, but if I can’t tell who you are by your either name or picture, then I don’t see why I should accept your request.

  29. Fist bump or high five? The fist bump is definitely more of a greeting than anything else, although I feel a little silly doing it sometimes.. I’m more of a handshake kinda guy, and I’ve even been known to grab a guys fist when he goes in for a bump and shaking it when I’m lost in my little dreamworld.
    The high five is strictly reserved for celebratory occasions

    I started off pretty relaxed about who I accepted on facebook, but never really requested them myself but now I’m really careful about who I accept.. I had too many people I didnt like from highschool on there so I had to do a couple of major ‘friend’ culls.

    I mostly use facebook to keep in contact with old friends from the various countries I’ve lived in, or work collegues who I dont mind knowing the gory details of my personal life :) The only family I have on my friends list is my brother.

    I have started occasionally accepting people I’ve been in regular contact with online, but only when the friend request includes a note about where I know them from, assuming they are pseudonymous when I meet them online and I’m only learning their real name on facebook.

  30. I send out very few friend requests, as I’ve no desires to network, but I accept pretty much all requests from:

    1. People I’ve actually met. (If I’ve met them and don’t like that that much, or if they’re currently students at my or any neighbouring school, they go on the limited profile list.)

    2. Distant cousins, whether I’ve met them or not. I do genealogy, so I find those people somewhat interesting. If they don’t like the stuff I make appear on their feeds they can block or unfriend me, I don’t worry about that.

    3. The occasional random free-thinker of some sort who sends me a request for whatever reason. Possibly because I’m so cool, or because they’re request volcanoes.

    I don’t high-five people with my mind.

  31. As a musician and music promoter, I have a fairly healthy number of friends on FaceBook. Most of them are people I know and have interacted with, but there is a decent number of people who have just added me for reasons I’m not entirely certain of. The only people I generally refuse or get rid of are:

    a) work people – Unless you’re REALLY cool, you’re work people and work people don’t need to know in what ways Jim At Home differs from Jim At Work.

    b) family – The last thing I need is all the prayers of my family every time I post on my blog and share it on FaceBook. I have to deal with that enough with just their knowing I’m a vile atheist who doesn’t believe in homeopathy.

    c) people who piss me off – If I actively don’t like you, you just can’t be my friend. There are very few people I can find no redeeming value for, but they’re out there.

    Aside from that, there are no real criteria for my friendship. I have met very few people who weren’t worth getting to know, and so many that would have immediately struck me as not my type if I was closed minded, only to later surprise me.

  32. I’ve been accepting friend and linked-in requests from just about anyone who asks. (…which isn’t all that many, really.)

    I have a special category for people of “questionable” relationship — when I’m not sure why we should be connected. I get the most sexual offers from them. And they usually get kicked from facebook pretty quickly.

    Some of the most annoying posts and bad business offers come from my blood relatives. But I love them dearly, and would not “de-friend” them.

  33. I accept a friend request if I know the person or if there is a good reason to do so (ex: networking). I block Farmville and any other obnoxious applications so that they don’t spam my news feed, so annoying updates aren’t a problem :-)

  34. I have come to dislike facebook. Most of the people I have friended are folks from school and some of them are pretty boring. One of them posts every little thing about her life at times she will post what she has had for lunch…don’t care (yawn). I do get updates and notices from Neil D. Tyson and Daily Show and cool science celebs. That is pretty much the only thing that keeps me going back.

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