If you’re anything like me, you probably notice your ‘Friends’ count on Facebook and wonder how you really have that many friends. Or maybe not. Maybe you are super popular and everybody ‘Likes’ you. Great job! But back to me. I’m looking at my Facebook profile, and it says I have 350 “Friends”. In the words of Jon Stewart: “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA??” How is that even possible? Do I even know 350 people? And then I think about how some of my “Friends” have 1,000+ “Friends” on their respective #FB profiles. Really? Really.
After scrolling through my list, I realize that, sure, I know a lot of people. And a lot of those “Friends” are immediate family or extended family or connections through family or work. So that makes sense. Not to brag, but the network of people I know is actually pretty big…and growing every day. But to call these people “friends”, well, that doesn’t seem 100% accurate.
Lately, I have been taking maximum advantage of the subscription feature that Facebook rolled out last Fall. It allows me to choose ‘All Updates’, ‘Most Updates’, or ‘Important Updates Only’. It’s brilliant. That feature allows me to rid my Facebook Wall of over-complainers, badnews bears, and all of the other ultra-annoying Facebookers. I love it. My Wall has never looked so awesome. And I like how it forces Facebook to guess who I would like to see updates from instead of those “Friends” I pretty much blocked.
And that brings us back to the word ‘friends’. I’m pretty sure that Facebook and all the other social media sites have diluted to the word ‘friend’ to the point that it basically means nothing. Some examples: 1) Oh, I remember you! You were at the sold out Jay-Z concert last night, sitting on the other side of the stadium, right? Well, awesome. You should friend me on Facebook. 2) Oh, you went to highschool with my mom? That’s cool. Friend me on Facebook. 3) You also like vintage guitar amps?!? Friend me already! On Facebook! – And then you never ever talk to those people again, but now you see their status updates on your Facebook Wall…because obviously you’re “friends” now.
And that is how it goes. We are “friending” all sorts of people who we otherwise wouldn’t have anything to do with. When I was growing up, it was an honor to be someone’s friend. You had to work at it. You had to actually get along with that person. You had to have daily – or at least weekly – interactions with them. And to be someone’s “Best Friend” – OMFG!!! that was the coolest. To have someone call you their *BEST* friend: Wow. What a thrill. It made all the Forever Alone memes go away…at least until they found a new best friend. But you get my point: ‘friend’ doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to mean.
But maybe things are going to change for the better – online anyways. Facebook recently announced a new feature that easily lets you change ‘Friends’ to ‘Acquaintances’ without them even knowing. That’s awesome. And it’s easy. And I don’t look like an a**hole in the process. To get started, go to your Friends page, choose ‘Acquaintances’, and start demoting people…you jerk.