Who are your FaceBook Friends?

Writing in All Things D on May 31, Liz Gannes wondered about friending in FaceBook.  Among her worries were that

“One of Facebook’s most fundamental flaws is its notion of friending. Relationships on Facebook don’t naturally expire as they do in the real world. To unfriend is drastic, used only in the direst of circumstances–like a bad breakup.

And the fact that people from so many parts of our lives are on Facebook elicits bland communication. You often don’t really know who you’re talking to, so you stop talking.”

That may be over-stating the case for “”while Facebook might be the hottest game in town, it’s still a pretty warped and inaccurate picture of what it means to have friends. ”

Consider in-person contacts you make, whether pursuing  business contacts or building relationships in small groups of large International organizations.  Or even connecting in interfaith activities. Now consider what attending a large family picnic such as a reunion is like.  In each instance, there will be people you meet and greet as people you have known for a very long time.  In each instance, you will have a different relationship with each person you talk with—or avoid. In each instance, there will be people to whom you say “We have simply got to stop not meeting like this.” And then you keep on not meeting them in person, for one reason or another.  Or there will be people you actually do connect with for a while—and then perhaps ignore until, for one reason or another, they come to your attention again.

It’s not that we  deliberately deceive anyone. It’s that life happens, and without mechanical prompting (such as with a scheduler) we all pay attention to different acquaintances at different times and for different reasons.  With schedulers, we remind ourselves to contact the people who we need to contact.

Her comment that “Relationships on Facebook don’t naturally expire as they do in the real world. To unfriend is drastic, used only in the direst of circumstances–like a bad breakup”  misses a reality.  It is not necessary to unfriend anyone you discover is not really all that interesting for any reason—business or personal. Simply not connecting with them right now gives one the option of re-connecting later on in a friendly way.

Liz, it’s all about our own goals and needs in the big city. The environment is different but the human behaviors are pretty much the same.

    


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