I have a very ambivalent relationship with Facebook right now. I did not read the New York Times article about Facebook etiquette, even though I'd been pondering the issues raised (who do I want to be friends with, can I not be friends when someone asks) for a while. I didn't read it because I was exhausted and because the other night, before the Times article appeared, I realized what was happening for me on Facebook. It came to me as I was reading Cat in the Hat to my kids. We got to the part where Thing One and Thing Two appear. (If you haven't read it in a while Thing One and Thing Two are strange little baby-doll-creature things brought to the house in a box by the Cat.) The text goes something like this: "And Sally and I did not know what to do, so we shook hands with Thing One and Thing Two."
This is what happens on Facebook. You do not know what to do. So you shake hands with old friend one and old friend two. Even if you abhor their politics; even if you can barely remember them; even if you don't really know them but share a real live friend or two in common. It's just what you do.