Since setting up this Journal, I have been thinking about the many different meanings of the Friends list. On one hand, it acts as a list of journals which you're interested in reading. On the other hand, the Friends list allows you to manage who can read protected posts and see your contact information; as long as people have LJ accounts and log in, it (theoretically) goes some way towards restoring the private register, that grey area between the public and the secret where most offline human interaction takes place, but which has been eroded online.
The social dimensions of the Friends list are varied. The LiveJournal Edit Friends page stresses that users are under no obligation to reciprocally confer Friend status on those who have befriended them; nonetheless, some users feel obliged to do so. At the other end of the spectrum, some users are also wary of adding strangers to their friends list, lest that seem impolite, implying a familiarity that does not exist. (I wonder how much of this is cultural and ties in to whether the users are from "cool" or "warm" cultures.)
After thinking about these things, I have decided to do some research and run a poll, asking you, the faithful reader and LiveJournal user, how you use your Friends list.
Which of the following would you be likely to add to your Friends?
People you know well in real life
People you have known on the internet for years, though haven't necessarily met
Strangers with interesting journals
People you don't know but would like to
Anyone who adds you to their Friends list, out of politeness
Do you use custom security levels?
Yes, my journal contains posts only some Friends can read
No, only Public, Friends-Only and/or Private
Optional part: In the Comments for this entry, post a short paragraph describing how you relate to your Friends list and to others befriending you, and anything else that you think is relevant to the issue.