Facebook New Friend Add Boiler Plate

Note of interest: My earliest note published in Facebook is dated Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 2:07pm

We do not know each other at all. Facebook has some algorithm by which it SUGGESTS people that one may care to add, based upon friends in common, or alma mater. I enjoy adding anyone who went through the SJC Great Books program. I was Annapolis, Class of ’71. Alumni have so much in common, obviously because all four years are required courses/readings.

I have posted on the Internet almost every day since 1998 when I first signed up for AOL dial-up. It is probably easier to simply add people, glance at their profiles and posts, and de-friend them if they are boring, or outright irritating. Some people are very private by nature and only wish to interact with close friends and family. Some days, Facebook will suggest 20 people, and I may request 10 of them. I would never really know who rejects me. I mean, if you went to a pub, would you only wish to talk with relatives and chums from high school, or would you mix with the crowd and look for some interesting conversation? I see Facebook as a giant pub (or tea house if you find intoxicants objectionable). I can no longer drink spirits because of age and health. But I like to follow the thoughts of many different people, most especially people who are in some fashion very different from me in how they see things, simply because such diversity stimulates new ideas, and refreshes old ones.

Why add only people you have met. You know all about them. They are boring. Add 100 people you have never met, and some of them will be interesting, or they will say something idiotic which will inspire you to retort with something brilliant, which will earn you undying fame, immortalized by future generations.


The rise of online social networks, with their troves of data, might shed some light on these matters. So The Economist asked Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, to crunch some numbers. Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, and that women tend to have somewhat more than men. But the range is large, and some people have networks numbering more than 500, so the hypothesis cannot yet be regarded as proven.

What also struck Dr Marlow, however, was that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. The more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group.

Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively. This corroborates Dr Marsden’s ideas about core networks, since even those Facebook users with the most friends communicate only with a relatively small number of them.

Put differently, people who are members of online social networks are not so much “networking” as they are “broadcasting their lives to an outer tier of acquaintances who aren’t necessarily inside the Dunbar circle,” says Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a polling organisation. Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever.

I simply approve every request. You can always delete them later. And you might be missing out on something very interesting that someone will one day post. I mean, just look at their info, and posts, and see if they seem genuine, and if they share some interests in common with you. If one feels that no one can be trusted, then the Internet is not the place to be.

Besides, in my situation, everyone who is an alumnus of St. John’s Annapolis or Santa Fe Great Books program automatically shares something in common with me. How will you ever meet new and interesting people if you never trust anyone. Is it not the case that all of your friends were, at one point, a stranger that you got to know. I am a stranger to 6 billion people on the planet, but that does not make me strange. And a large percentage of violent crimes are perpetrated by relatives or acquaintances.

I have been on the Internet non stop since 1998, and talked to everyone. An online friend from Univ. of Oulu, Finland, came with his 11 yr. old son and stayed at my apartment for a few days, to save on hotel costs. I went to Tampa, FL once and had dinner with 3 yahoo chat acquaintances. An AOL friend from Great Britain spent the day with me while visiting NY. And I am guessing that about 50,000 people over the past 10 years have read my blogs on philosophy, religion, poetry, etc. I have never regretted giving everyone a chance.

What would Jesus have done? The Samaritan women at the well, the adulteress, about to be stoned, Zaccheus the tax collector, the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot, reading Isaiah, Apostles Andrew and Nathaniel…. they were ALL TOTAL STRANGERS. America amazes me, because we pay such lip service to Christianity, and demand that our presidential candidates take Jesus as their personal savior, but what do we choose to do in daily life. Don’t get me wrong. I am Hindu and Buddhist in my personal beliefs. Gandhi rejected Christianity as his personal religion, but the beatitudes of the sermon on the mount were his favorite. Kurt Vonnegut wryly observed that Americans clamor to erect monuments to Moses’ ten commandments, but no one thinks to have a plaque for the beatitudes.

And the Torah and Talmud say to welcome the stranger, so don’t any of you weasel out of this by saying you are Jewish.

Dennis the Menace asked someone “are you a stranger”. The old man replied “No, I lived her all my life.” Dennis said “Good, cause my Mom says not to talk to strangers.

It’s like the Lotto ad says, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

One of my tutor’s at St. John’s, Mr. Main, I think, said in seminar “you can’t have too much money or too much whiskey.” I guess I would add to that sentiment that you can’t have too many friends (though you can have too many enemies). Lincoln said “If I make my enemy into my friend, then have I not destroyed my enemy?”

My practice for years is to pick up a book at random, a book I might not otherwise read, open it and read a page at random, and try to understand something from that page.

People on Facebook and Myspace are like books. I randomly look at what some of the 300 people on my list are saying, and I am glimpsing into the soul and life and heart of that person. They mention something entirely new to me. I look at something in a way that I have never seen before. I Google and read some. I reflect, react and post. Others randomly read my thoughts.

These activities are very enriching. Even a fool has something to teach a wise man.

Where would philosophy be today, if Socrates had said to The Eleatic Stranger, “Oh, sorry, I can’t talk to you ’cause you’re a stranger.”

Somewhere in the Talmud it is observed that “when a great king stamps out coins with his image on them, each coin is the same, but when God creates people in His image, each and every one is different.” Now, YOU are a stranger to all the people who might possibly add YOU. Do you feel they should FEAR you?

No, of course not. And you know that you are totally unique. There has NEVER been another person just like YOU, and there never shall be. And you have much to offer others.

Aristotle said, “A friend is another I.” Well, consider the reflexivity of this I-Thou relationship. As we esteem others, so, in a labyrinthine fashion, we come to esteem ourselves.

There is a saying in India, “When a saint meets a sinner, all he sees is saintliness, but when a sinner meets a saint, all he sees is sin.”

Also, “when a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are pockets.”

With the Internet, we can tap into each others stream of consciousness and with search engines we can explore anything in considerable depth in as little as an hour (because we are reading peoples recollections of digests of summaries, which may sound superficial but can really be quite deep.) This is why, when I add 20 friends a day and several of them ask if they know me, I think to myself “they really don’t GET it… you WANT to add people you DON’T know, to expand your mind.. what will you gain if your status about eating an apple or having irregularity is read by your grade school buddy across town and your cousin that you visit on Thanksgiving?

Are Internet Relationships Real?

The acting is good, except I am no qualified judge of acting other than to know what I like. I have found a few good friends on the Internet over the past 10 years. I have met several Internet contacts in person over the years. Geetanjali in Mangalore India is one of my best friends of all time. Ryan Thomas in Hawaii has spent hours talking with me in ustream. The Internet is as good or as bad as you want to make it. Stella is very kind to pay attention to me, even though we are at opposite extremes of political thought. It is healthy for me to pay attention to the ideas and feelings of those who are very different from me. People can spend years going to dinner, movies, bowling, the beach, and never really get to know each other. On the Internet ALL YOU HAVE are words, ideas, feelings. That is why a lot of romance takes place. Women in particular value words and feelings, and males are often content with dinner and a movie. Yet people say that Internet friendships are not REAL.

I would say that Internet friendships can be MORE REAL than personal acquaintanceships.

Hey, I just realized that the word SHIP is in acquaintanceSHIP. Suddenly, the lyrics of “The Good Ship Lollipop” are running through my mind.

If there is any meaning at all in this life, it is the meaning that we find in OTHER’S lives, and the meaning that they find in our own life. In one of it’s forms, that meaning is called LITERATURE. When we feel like disparaging the phenomenon, we call it FICTION. Fiction is not REAL

What is real. When we sit in a coffeshop and gossip, is that real?

This Facebook is good for me because I can connect in some fashion with people who have attended St. John’s across the decades. I like to know what interests younger generations.

Let’s FACE the facts. If you really want to talk about the Iliad, or the Republic, where do you go?


Rachel is a bright, engaging student of website design in Texas.

She spoke passionately and at great length last night regarding the depth and significance of internet friendships formed with people that we have never met face to face.

I have had similar experiences to hers over the past 10 years.

I once visited the streaming website of a young woman who ran an internet business, and worked all day (fully clothed of course) from her bed, with her laptop. One could even hear her business conversations on the cell.

I asked her candidly why she chose to be on web-cam constantly. She had been a literature major in college, and she respected my interest in such things, so she answered me candidly. She explained that her WHOLE LIFE takes place in front of the keyboard, so web-cam and chat provides a way to socialize and make her day more human.

Certainly I have developed the closest possible relationship imaginable with Geetanjali over the past several years, which is in no way romantic, but totally based upon our common interests in religion, philosophy and literature.

Ryan-Thomas and I have become quite close in the past months, because we share a common interest in history and economy.

I can easily see how the phenomenon of virtual online friendships is growing more important and and increasingly accepted as the norm rather than as something bizarre.

My earliest note published in Facebook is dated Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 2:07pm

Whether Weather (a poem)

No Poem Today.
No rainbow.

Is that to say
Poem is rainbow?

No, for rainbow
Is not poem.
Rainbow is not me,
Arched in the sky
For all to see,
With a leprechaun promise of gold
And a God’s promise of mercy.

Most days are no poem,
No rainbow days.
With patience
We weather the whether,
The “to be or not to be”
Of clear sky
And blank page.


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