F is for Friendship

Follow, like, share and subscribe. This is the language of friendship in the age of social media, where we’re friends on Facebook until you change your profile picture and I suddenly don’t know you from Charlie anymore. The word ‘friend’ is becoming as ambiguous as the word ‘love.’

“I love that sweater on you, Carla.”
“This? Thanks. I got it from my friend Diane.”
“Is that the Diane who shares all those pictures on your wall?”
“No, she’s just my friend on Facebook. I don’t know her.”

Back in my day, young’uns collected Pogs and Pokemon cards. Today’s youth collect friends. Every new friendship, follow and like is a badge of social prestige. But really, How Many Friends Does One Person Need?

Friendship, like any other positive relationship, has to be mutually beneficial to all parties. You get someone to agree with and back up your opinions, someone with whom to eat a quart of ice cream, or stay up with until all hours of the night getting shit-faced. This same friend will hold your hair back as you violently vomit, then post pictures of it with hashtag luvUgurl all over the internet.

In International Relations your friends have got your back when you need to get tough on some douche hiding a nuke behind their garden shed. And when you’ve got to go balls to the wall with Russia in a vodka drinking contest, your friends will be there beside you, egging you on, making sure you don’t give up until you’re secured in the ambulance. The pictures will be all over Facebook the next morning, hashtag LostTehBattleNotTehWar hashtag IndustrialStainRemover hashtag InternationIncident.

So what is the benefit of being friends with hundreds of people you honestly probably couldn’t stand to be in the same room with for more than a few minutes? It’s all in the feeling of  rubbing social superiority in the face of the bitch who unfriended you last week.

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32 thoughts on “F is for Friendship

  1. No benefit! I keep Facebook just for people I know. Twitter is less personal, but I find more and more I only tweet to people I know in real life, or some I’ve followed for ages and feel as if I know. I have made some real life friends via Twitter.

  2. My husband will automatically accept any friend requests. I am a bit more discerning. 🙂

    Also, it is very weird seeing one’s pseudonym and real name in several of the posts I’ve read today. I feel like I’ve already been there when I know damn well that I haven’t. 🙂

    • Ah, sorry for that. I could change it to “Fred” if you like. I feel the same when I see my real name popping about. It was common when I was in school, but not so much any more. 😛

  3. The benefit I receive from Facebook/Twitter is mostly keeping up with my family and Real Life friends who live across the country. I have a lot of “friends” on Facebook that never spoke to me when I knew them in school. For some, it’s still a popularity contest. But in the last year, through blogging, I have been making a lot of new friends who I do keep up with and would love to meet at some point. Good article for F. 🙂

    • I do like using Facebook to keep up with family. Friends I mostly just watch their lives through Facebook, but it’s not all that accurate a representation, since we choose what to let other people see. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it can lead to unfair comparisons when all we see from our friends is the happy, successful moments.

      As for my family, I do wish more of them were active on Facebook. Still trying to teach my dad how to use it. And punctuation. 😛

  4. Most of my friends on Facebook are people I actually knew from school (grammar, high, and college), family members, or people I worked with, and a few of them were people I barely knew. The term really means nothing; I’d almost prefer it if they changed the term from “friends” to “followers,” but then they’ve redefined “follower” as someone who watches a page. Now with Twitter, and Google+, few of the people I follow are actually people I know in real life (baseball players, local TV news people, other authors and bloggers, etc.).

    • My facebook is a pretty much equal mix of real life friends, online friends, coworkers and family. My Twitter is almost all strangers and my Google+ is collecting dust somewhere in a cyber corner.

      I agree though, I don;’t like this new ambiguous use of the words ‘friend’ to mean ‘anyone that you have ever had a passing contact with.’

  5. I’ve never really understood the whole ‘friend collecting’thing on Facebook. You can probably tell by the number of ‘friends’ I have on my personal page. It is an odd change in the human relationships dynamic, this internet friends thing. I wonder how things will be in fifty years from now.

    TD Harvey A to Z participant
    http://www.tdharveyauthor.com

    • I agree. It’s a strange thing when I look at my “friends” list and I honestly don’t know who the hell some of the people are, both from their user pictures and their name.

  6. Enjoyed your post! Made me laugh. I’ve “virtually” met quite a few interesting people on social media, and some have actually become friends. Others I would like to meet. Twitter has really changed since the original concept. I hardly see anyone engaging there anymore beyond social media e-commerce. I don’t even get an E for effort on Facebook. Blogging is still my virtual interaction of choice. It allows me to converse with people from all over the world and gain new perspectives. I love bloggers. And I’m a bit of a Instagram ‘ho. I’m a sucker for a click of almost anything. Almost. 🙂

    • I agree entirely. Twitter has become a quick marketing drop and it’s so bad that I only check in there once or twice a month. 😦

      Facebook I update more regularly since it still feels a bit intimate. And I do meet lots of interesting people through my blog, which is really nice too, ’cause here we can actually have real, candid and intelligent conversations.

  7. A very different, and somewhat similar to few people in social media world!! I have been guilty of these when I joined FB, however of lately I have cleaned up my FB friend list to make sure, I am only friends with people I know, and I like to be friends with!!

    All the best with your challenge!

    Shivani, Participant A – Z challenge

    www,booksinlybagclub.wordpress.com

    • I’ve wanted to, many times, clean up my Facebook in the same way, but there’s this social pressure that exists now, to maintain these psuedo-relationships online. I don’t much like it. I would prefer to only be friends with people I know and really like, but the world has changed and we’re expected to invite many more people into our lives that I, personally, can comfortably acknowledge.

  8. Ah but we are merely falling into Zuckerberg’s trap by accepting them as ‘friends’ when they are at lest acquaintances or better contacts (unless they happen to be real friends). I think the fallacy is being exposed now but the label remains and it wears away at real friendships to have the currency devalued. Great and thoughtful post (as usual, as I am finding!)

    • I’m much more willing to deny friendships these days, for sure. I’d rather not have to deal with the hassle of some people right from the start, than try to untangle myself from them later on.

      • I suppose coming to social media late and being more comfortable with letter writing has made me cautious about who I accept both on FB and Twitter

      • Probably. I wish I had done the same now. Granted, though, I don’t really care who I follow on Twitter anyway. Like I said, I just skim that site form time to time.

  9. Great post! It does remind us how the meanings of words change over time. When I was young, gay meant happy and a friend was not a term thrown out lightly.

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