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Friday, December 14, 2012

Facebook "Friends"

Terminology is a funny thing. For a literal person-very literal person- like me it certainly can cause issues.For instance; What is a friend?
Is a friend someone you don't know, barely know, might not know at all? Certainly not.In real life, as most of us Facebookers call it when we aren't on Facebook, when we describe a person to others we categorize them. Such as:
"This is my wife, Betty" 

"This is my high school friend Tom"
 "This is my co-worker Bob"
 "This is Edward, we just met at our kids soccer game two weeks ago"
"This is my good friend Carol"
"That is my best friend Sally,  I want you to meet her"
What we certainly don't do is categorize someone we just met, or barely know, as a friend. They have to prove that, earn that and become that. In Facebookland it doesn't work that way.
The way you interact on Facebook is to send friend requests and gather friends. You gain status, and increased access to someone's Facebook world by becoming their friend. But, in reality, a Facebook friend isn't the same as a real world friend.
Case in point. Last night, someone who used to be a Facebook friend of mine made a comment in one of my groups. For whatever reason, she deleted me as a friend and exited all my groups except one. Now, I would say she was always only an acquaintance rather than a friend, so it was not really any difference for her to defriend me. But it got me thinking.
Do we need to be classified as friends to interact on Facebook? Even more to the point, should we be classified as friends, when we clearly are not?The answer for me is No, we do not.
Most of us have a simple goal when we use Facebook. We want to connect with others in various ways. So in that way,  we are connected, not friends. Just like your butcher is connected to you because he provides meat, or your policeman because he protects you, or your kids teacher because they educate your children. But, they aren't your friends although they also could be.
I think as I move forward, and as Facebook matures, we are going to see more and more people not friending others but finding ways to interact without doing that. Groups and pages are a big part of that,  and that is what I see as the future of interaction on Facebook.
Sure, we will still have friends on Facebook, and make new friends on Facebook, but mostly those will be already existing friends and family. I am sure for many that is already how they operate. But we all know those who have 5000 Facebook friends, and I would venture to say they couldn't name more than 200 of them. In real life, if you have a friend, you at least know their name, where they live and what they do for a living. Facebook needs to become more like real life. Yes, it is social media and we always have to remember that, but there isn't really a good reason that it can't reflect how real life is.
Not for me anyway. I will aim going forward to make it "more real".

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Mark! I'm new to your blog but I like this post! Personally, I prefer the "Follow" designation that Twitter uses. You don't have to be "Friends" to show an interest in somebody's activities there. And Google+ uses "Circles." There are four categories: Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following. I think that makes a lot more sense than the "Friend" designation on Facebook


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