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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Social Media and Relationships Series Part 3: Social Media and Friendships

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This post is the last of 3 in a 3 part series on the evolution of relationships because of social media. Part 1 was about Facebook and your relationships and part 2 was about Facebook in the work place.

Since the rise of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Social Media channels have changed our lives and forever altered the way in which we are choosing to interact with people entirely– the game has changed and so have the rules.

It’s Official

You have a new friend request. It’s the super nice girl you met last week- you are both interested in fashion. What do you do? Do you accept? Should you “friend” someone you hardly know? [Is the act of “friending” a real
word?] Of course! [To both things]. After you’ve sufficiently stalked her personal information and profile pictures- you post on her wall making plans for the next weekend– then message one another phone numbers and plan to meet at the fantastic boutique she found last month. Your entire first meeting was exclusively arranged by way of Social Media. Although you have only met once- you and she have 30 friends in common and went to neighboring high schools, so you instantly became “friends.” At what point do you really become “friends” with someone? Can you be close with someone and NOT be Facebook friends with them?

"Does Facebook serve as a validation of a friendship?”

How Do You Define A “Friend”?

As I typed this, I was thinking– what the heck IS a friend? Wikipedia says, “Friendship is a form of interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations.” Well, that was sufficiently vague. A friend to me is someone that you would hang out with and wouldn’t mind being associated with in a public place (or online). Facebook defines their connections as “friendships” which has created a lable for a casual relationship with someone both online and offline. How do YOU define a “friend”? Would you ask someone to “friend” you on Facebook? Is it the new, “can I get your number”?

Degrees Of Friendship

At what point does it become okay to get someones number or to “friend” someone on Social Media?
Personally– I believe there are degrees of friendship based upon how close you are with someone.

  1. Acquaintance– someone who I wouldn’t mind being friends with on facebook, but someone I don’t know extremely well in person.
  2. Friend– someone who you would obviously be connected with by way of social media/mobile, and would consider handing out with at some point.
  3. Close friends– someone you hang out with on a regular basis. (aka, on the reg).
  4. The Best friend, (the BFF!)- your select friend– or few that you can’t go without talking to everyday!

Does Social Media Add Validly To Friendships?

Having friends in common and being friends with someone on Social Media is definitely how Generation Y lays the foundation for friendships. It’s a form of friendship and social validity. If you are friends with someone outside of the Interweb– does that mean you would automatically consider be friends with them online?
I’ll admit it. I am one who thinks it is extremely important to be friends with someone on Social Media. I definitely rely on it for events, networking, and talking to people that are in my community circle (aka: Friends, family friends, classmates, coworkers, etc.) It’s also a place where I share pictures, statuses about my life, check-in’s etc. Essentially it’s how I keep in touch and sustain friendships with people who I can’t see on a regular basis.

Is There Risk In Trusting “Friends”?

Wherever there is some type of investment, (time, personal information, or money) there is risk. Entrusting people on the Internet that you know with your information is fine, but make sure you take into consideration their friends– and their friends’ friends. (uh-oh, remember 6 degrees of separation? Facebook made it 3.) That’s great. You effectively connected everyone in the world, of course there is risk– make sure your profile(s) are protected!

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