I use social networks. Doesn't everybody? I have a page on MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Facebook and LinkedIn both require you to have a membership to view my page, so I can't link to an external URL for them. I have found a good use for these social networking sites: friends finding me. I've had several high school friends find me through MySpace. An exchange student that my family hosted my senior year in high school found me on Facebook. I noticed that my mortgage broker is on LinkedIn. I think these sites are useful in many ways. I also belong to some military sites and old shipmates have contacted me that way. I am actually happy with social networking sites in that regard.
I hate them in another regard. I used to have so much trouble keeping up with spam friend requests on MySpace until my wife set my profile to private, but I still get a few rogue friend requests. As you can tell from my picture, I have a family. I'm honestly not in the market to be friends with any 21 year old single females, and yet those are the friend requests I get. Most I expect are spam for porn sites but I have no way to tell. I check the profile of anyone who sends me a friend request just in case I know them from somewhere. I almost denied one friend request who happened to be a girl who went to my church.
This is where I'm not so sure how this friend stuff is supposed to work. It seems to me that we should send friend requests to people that we know, but some people seem to collect them like trading cards. I can understand celebrities like Kevin Rose having more than 10,000 friends, but do I really need that many? I actually don't.
I'll admit I'm not completely immune. I do have one A-list friend, although it's not for social benefit, at least, I'm not likely to meet this person. Robert Scoble wrote in his blog that he posts exclusive content on Facebook and only people on his friends list can see it. I sent him a friend request only to find that I don't really have time to watch his exclusive content. Doh!
One way you can tell that a friend request is bogus is if it refers you to a profile on another site. I recently got one of these through Yahoo! 360, where I have an unused site. Unless the person (single female) gives a reason why I know her, I will probably just leave this request hanging.
Social networks do have some very useful benefits as long as spammers and other assorted dregs of society leave me alone.