MSNBC Article on “Facebook Friends”

“Andrea Smith recently received a Facebook friend invitation from someone she went to junior high school with – 23 years ago. “I found it kind of baffling,” said Smith, 38, of Ypsilanti, Mich. “I knew who she was, but I don’t recall that we were ever friends. I don’t recall that we ever had a conversation.” Social networking sites such as Facebook have experienced phenomenal growth in the past year, according to market researcher comScore. Facebook is now the No. 1 social networking site, with more than 120 million active users, and its fastest growing demographic is those 25 and older.”

This is a great article because it touches on the radical way the term “friend” has been re-defined by social networking. Although I’m sure there are exceptions, where long-lost friends have re-connected after losing tough, I think the vast majority social networking promotes a distored view of what the term “friend” really means – and it forces to the surface social “facts of life” that are otherwise buried though seperation of time and physical space. In the real world (“meatspace”), if someone calls you one or two times, and you don’t call them back, that’s a social signal that they probably shouldn’t keep trying to communicate with you. Most people get that. Yet somehow on social networking sites, there are people that will make repeated friend requests, or re-invite you as a friend after you remove them.

Somehow the social norms we pick up over our lives get thrown out the window when it comes to social networking sites…I wonder why we think the rules don’t apply? Or maybe that’s not the issue – maybe it’s more an issue of distored views of importance. Maybe with social networking sites making it so easy to be “friends” with people, we assume that everyone we want to be friends with wants to be friends with us? I find this topic endlessly fascinating, and I haven’t even mentioned ex-girlfriends yet… 😉