Chances are you already have a few friends - most people do, whether they like it or not. Friendship in real life is a multi splendoured thing with infinite gradations and nuances. However, on a social network friendship comes down to a brutal 2 bit encoding - 0x0 NOT FRIENDS, 0x1 FRIEND OF, 0x2 FRIENDED BY, 0x3 MUTUAL FRIEND.
What this doesn't explain is the politics of being friends. LJ has a particularly odd one - if some one friends you it's rude not to friend back (unless you really have no idea who they are and are surrounded by swarms of fanboys) but at that point your friends list becomes too long and unwieldy to read. Of course at that point you can do the "Default View" trick but that's not entirely satisfactory.
Coincidentally, today I read Scoble blogging about this 'problem' and Twitter
3. Never follow more than 300 people. Why is this a rule? Because if you follow 5,700 people, like I do, then you’ll be tempted to answer lots of those Tweets, which will put you in danger of breaking #2. See next rule.
4. Never follow anyone who isn’t your “real” friend. This will help you keep your friends’ list down to less than 300, which will keep you from breaking rule #2.
8. Follow one person for every 10 who follows you. Me? I follow EVERY person who follows me, as Dave Winer points out. Why? Cause I believe that anyone who follows me is a friend and is someone I should listen to. Other people think it’s just a publishing mechanism for posting their URLs and other stuff to the world.
It's that last bit that terrifies me - does he have no work to do at all?
Anyway, I think there should be a new scale - Funerals (Weddings work as well but Funerals came to mind first). In short - how far would you go to go to that person's funeral? Would you even send a card? Would you take a day off work? Would you drive to it? Would you stay over night? Would you fly? Would you fly to another country? Would you fly to another continent? Would you cut a holiday short? Would you cut a wedding short? Would you cut your own wedding short?
It's fool proof - suitably gradiated and with no ambiguities? Would you or wouldn't you. We should all rate our friends. I can see nothing going wrong with that whatsoever.
This hasn't been an entirely serious post.