Sunday, February 24, 2008

Friended/Friend-Ed

Friended Friend-ed

So after much resisting, I finally joined/got sucked into the social network of Facebook. Initially designed for college kids to get to know their classmates, it has now gone global, allowing people of all ages and demographics.

As a person in the process of examining friendships, I find this whole concept very interesting. You seek out people from your past or present and connect online. I went and looked up people from my high school class to see if there were any signed up on Facebook and there were several --- including a guy who lived on my street, whom I saw nearly everyday much of my adolescence. I “friended” him, meaning I clicked on a link to add him to my friends list (criteria for “friendship” on these sites is pretty loose). Within a couple hours, this accepted my “friend request.” And then wrote me a message – it went something like this: “Hi – thank you for friending me. I forget—how do we know each other?”

Funny on so many levels:
1) He accepted the request
2) He then emailed me to ask if we knew each other
3) He used theword “friending”
4) We will probably now actually become friends because I friended him
5) I just used the word “friended”

This whole idea of collecting “friends” is an interesting one. In a way, this online social networking is a great thing connecting people who have lost touch, or for whom physical interaction is not possible. But the internet has created this strange world, where people throw around the word “friend,” making it lose meaning.

In some ways I really like this way of networking. It helps connect people. That is a great thing. But I can also see how these online sites can suck away the time that once could spend truly being with another human being. I am the last one who should preach about putting the laptop down, but I do recognize that this can be dangerous territory. We need to be able to physically share space, or at the very least talk to other people. There is too much lost without tone and inflection, or a look, a shrug, a sigh. Words cannot communicate full meaning alone.

That said, I have to go check my Facebook account and see if I have any new friends….

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