Recently, I got several friend requests on Facebook from people I sort of knew in middle school. We went to different high schools, and so I haven't talked to them in five years, as I've just finished my first year in college.
I prefer to keep my Facebook friends to people I would really characterize as my friends. Many people I know don't take the phrase "Facebook friend" as literally as I do, and have many more "friends". I'm still making up my mind whether to accept or decline the friend requests, and it's been close to a week. On the one hand, I'm not that eager to expand my usage of the Facebook friend feature; on the other, these are nice, well-intentioned folks, and I don't want to offend them by declining their requests outright.
I'm currently leaning towards declining the request, but if I simply click "Delete Request", I'm pretty sure they'll get offended (they won't be notified if I decline it, but they'll notice at some point that I never accepted their request). On the other hand, I haven't spoken to these people in five years, and we've changed. I want to explain my reasoning, but I don't want my first contact with them to be "Hi, I have a narrow definition of 'Facebook friend', and you don't quite fit in it." That particular phrasing, for instance, is incredibly obnoxious.
How can I decline these friend requests from people I no longer know very well while still explaining why - without offending them or otherwise being rude?
As has been pointed out, folks don't get notified if their request is declined, and so I could simply leave things in limbo by not acting on the request. I'm not too enthusiastic about that suggestion; it feels like lying if I try to make them believe that I simply haven't seen the requests. I'm not very comfortable with ignoring them.