An Open Letter to the Stranger
Who Sent Me a Friend Request

Dear Potential Social-Media Friend Carrying the sturdy Y-chromosome,

It was with considerable joy that I logged in to the social network of my choice this morning and found, lying in ambush, a friend request from such an estimable character as yourself. Nothing delights me more than a desire for connection that crash-lands in my inbox – doubly thrilling if I can identify the name of the requester. The sun shone through the clouds for only a moment before realization dawned on me with a thud – I do not, in fact, know you. As a reasonably techno-savvy millennial I remedied this minor conundrum by wandering over to your profile. There, the scene that greeted my eyes diminished my confidence – your blurry silhouette forming a V with your fingers at the camera. I won’t lie – the fuzziness of the photo convinced me that it was captured by an inept one-handed shutterbug while dangling off the edge of a train hurtling through the tunnels of Arkansas.

I thus turned my attention to our list of mutual friends, of which there lurked a grand total of one. I clicked on the name in question, vowing to dispel him from my list of acquaintances, when I observed he had ‘liked’ a post you had shared. Then it struck me – the reason you had sent me a friend request. I, in a particularly weak moment, had also “liked” the post.

This small unthinking gesture on my part was enough to send your trigger-happy fingers into a tizzy, thus compelling you to hit the “Send Friend Request” button.

I can see what you were thinking. You don’t know me, we have nothing in common – no nothing, leave that mutual friend aside – and I am a poor helpless woman on the internet. Of course I’d never refuse – what else do I have to do all day but tap my little index finger on the Accept Friend Request button?

From a glance through the clearer photos infesting your timeline, it appears you are irreparably young, possibly yet to face a quarter-life crisis. That’s okay, nobody’s perfect. But it leads me to wonder – do you really mean to befriend women you don’t know in the hopes of looking cool, never mind that said woman is hurtling towards the big 4-0 and a happily-married mother, or did you aim for loftier, more noble purposes such as “expanding your network”? I notice your current number of friends has already climbed north of five hundred – would increasing the count not place considerable strain on your limited cranial resources?

But that is not germane to the issue. I have altered my privacy settings to prevent such an instance from recurring, because no matter what the cool people say, a friend of a friend is not necessarily my friend. You remember that concept of transitive relations? They work great for set theory, but they don’t slide over so neatly into real life.

So here’s my advice for you – step away from my Facebook page, and find another potential friend to hound, preferably one who lacks said knowledge of aforementioned privacy settings.


Gargi Mehra