I think we've all been there. You run across a family member on Facebook and check to see what information is available on their profile...to your horror, you see that they are not only a fundamentalist Christian, they are also fans of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and they're members of the Obama death prayer group, or the O.B.A.M.A group (One Big Ass Mistake America), or the 1,000,000 Strong Against Baby-Raping Atheists Who Cross-dress and Drink White Wine with Beef group.
Okay, I made one of those up.
It can definitely be a dilemma. Do you send them a friend request, or do you just move along? What do you do if one of them finds you and sends you a request? Are you obligated to accept because of family ties?
Personally, I say no. It's not just a matter of seeing their posts that you know are going to make your head explode--you can always hide their posts. There is personal privacy involved, and we are all entitled to it. Just because I'm related to a person does not mean that my life must be an open book to them.
A prime example would be my Mom. I love my Mom dearly, but I am very grateful that she has no desire to learn to use the computer, or to be on any sort of networking site. You all know that I've got a foul mouth, and I use it here and on Facebook. I've also got a liberal streak in me a mile wide, and much of my family is quite conservative. I have very strong opinions about religion. When I am around my Mom or many members of my family, I don't use such language, or talk about my opinions on various matters. That is out of respect for them and their feelings, and in the interest of family harmony. I do not want my Mom knowing everything that I say here or on Facebook. I feel that I have the right to my privacy and my personal opinions, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that.
There are some family members that I am friends with. Those are people that know me and my opinions well (Cousin Shane, et al) and tend to be close to me in our feelings about various things; these are people that I am myself with. I'm the same with them as I am with my friends. Then there is Cousin Curt, who doesn't agree with me on much of anything (other than the importance of education and a mutual love of literature), but gets a kick out of our disagreements and enjoys the debates. We all deal with people differently, and there are some things that we don't disclose to family members. I'm certain that I can't be the only one to make that distinction, or draw the line at full disclosure. I have to wonder why any conservative, religious relatives would even want to be friends with me...I can't imagine that they would enjoy any of my posts! Those that are friends with me are those who "get me," and even if they don't agree with me, they certainly won't be concerned about what I write.
I had a cousin tell me that a mutual relative sent him a concerned email about an entry of mine, saying, "You need to see this." My cousin was worried until he read my entry and realized that it was just opinions that differed greatly from those of most of the family...I'm guessing he decided that no intervention was necessary. Haha!
It really is perfectly okay to not accept every friend request you receive. I'm sure there are people who would say, "Well, what do you have to hide? If you don't want to share things with everyone, don't write it." Whatever. I can't begin to tell you how liberating it was to decide to write what I wanted here, and to find like-minded people on Facebook. I may censor myself around certain family members, but this is my space (ha...get it?), and I don't want to have to censor myself here. Simply being in the same family does not mean I'm obliged to provide full disclosure.
I think this video sums things up pretty well. I understand the concern that is involved, but I also realize now that kids need to do their own thing. As do I.