I've seen two things on the internet today about whether or not people should accept friend requests from certain people. I thought this was an easy decision, but the cowed internet legions out there have turned it into an existential question that needs input from French philosophers. So, here's a handy guide on whether or not to hit "Confirm" or "Not Now."
According to gay etiquette expert Steven Petrow, this puts you in a dicey position, because your boss can see all your photos and just what you were up to on Thursday when you called in sick but you really wanted to go wait in line for Radiohead tickets. But then again, most people aren't so stupid as to post what you're doing on Facebook (or Twitter) when you're supposed to be at work. I think this is fine, as long as you're smart about it. On the other hand, I'm Facebook friends with my boss and some of the music videos he posts are really embarrassing. How can you take someone seriously when you know he unironically loves Eminem? It might end up worse for your boss.
If you're a manager at work, you certainly shouldn't be sending those who work under you friend requests, but what if they send you one? Well, you should just fire them right now. They're stupid enough to let you into their lives and exploit their personal lives for your own gain. Either that or they're so manipulative that they'll expect you to see when their status goes from "In a Relationship" to "It's Complicated" and cut them some slack because they're having a tough day. Or they could be trying to find something to blackmail you with! No matter what they're motivation, they're probably at best a brown noser and at worst a huge pile of drama. Just give them the ax now and make life easier for everyone.
Your Mom or Dad
You have to accept mom's or dad's friend request. They gave birth to you, cared for you, put you through college, fucked you up royally, and gave you that strange fear of germs that sometimes cripples your sex life. Now that you're both adults, the least you can do is accept their friendship on a social media platform. But put them on limited access. The last thing you need your mom doing is commenting on just how slutty your Halloween costume is, or posting embarrassing pictures of you from your 9th birthday party to your wall. This could turn into her picking you up at the 8th grade dance in a minivan right quick.
As Salon punching bag Mary Elizabeth Williams points out, it's probably not a good idea to be your kid's Facebook friend if they're under 21. Yes, you should monitor exactly what they're doing online and who has access to their info, but you don't want your kids all up in your business. The last thing you need is to get a sitter and tell the kids you're going out to a "wedding" and then some jerk at the Swingers Retreat tags a photo of you and your partner and your 14 year-old is like, "Mom, what's a swinger?" That is a conversation no one needs to have. Ever!
Your Crazy Aunt Mary
Of course! Crazy Aunt Mary is a fucking hoot. She gets a little too tipsy at family functions and she was always your favorite aunt. She's just like that on Facebook. She sends the links to the funniest pictures on the internet a few days after everyone else has seen then and it's just so cute! And there is nothing embarrassing you could do that Crazy Aunt Mary hasn't done herself. And she probably did it better and before you did too! In fact, if you had to wait for her to friend request you then you're kind of a jerk.
What is your cousin going to do? It's not like you're going to post something and then he's going to tell his mom who is going to tell your mom and then it's going to come back to bite you in the ass. Cousins are like brothers (or sisters) who don't have to pick you up at the airport when you come to town, which means they're just there to have fun with and gossip about with your real siblings. Those are all good things. Accept gladly.
A High School Friend
"Caitlyn Recommends You Like Courtland Hills Christian Center and Eight Other Pages." Need I say more?
The Person You Meet Once at a Cocktail Party
First, we have to answer some questions. Is this person attractive? Does she work in the same industry as you? Do you have friends in common? Will you be able to ask him for favors? Can she advance your career? Do you think he has attractive friends who you can go through when you're just aimlessly clicking through Facebook looking for hot people? Do you want to sleep with this person? Will this person not exploit your photos to embarrass you publicly? You want to sleep with this person, don't you? Are you going to admit it? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, then feel free to accept.
Sure, if this is a recent ex or someone who you're having a custody battle with this could be awful. But what about a long ago ex? It is OK only if you look as good or better when you were with this person, are better off financially than him or her, are in a relationship with someone he or she will be jealous of, and are someone who likes to troll around Facebook late at night with a glass of wine, a Joni Mitchell playlist, and thoughts about how things might have been which make you all misty. Also, this could lead to ex sex, and that is always wonderful.
This is how horror movies start. What are you, some kind of idiot? But if he or she is hot, it couldn't hurt.