Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm sure I've been defriended on Facebook a few times, only one of which I can actually remember though, but that's just because it was personal. All the other times? I have no idea when they happened or even by who or even if they've actually happened. That just goes to show how much I actually pay attention to the flux in my "friend" count.

Driving home from my parents house the other night I was listening to essay being read on Public Radio about this topic and it really had me thinking about how we go about defining our friendships in today's world. If you look up friend in the dictionary, it says that a friend is "a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relation." But, it seems like today, you can't really be friends if you're not somehow connected on Facebook. But even if you are friends on Facebook, does that even make someone a  real friend? Are you friends now just because you receive their annoying updates on what they had for dinner or when they used the bathroom last?

My mom always likes to tell me that friends take years and years every time I reference somebody as my friend. When I was younger, I always found this to be annoying and I never believed her, she was just annoying. This person that I got along with today, they're my friend. Well, for now anyway. Because as I got older, and still found it to be incredibly annoying every time I reference somebody, I find what my mom always told me to be true. Friends do take years and years and best friends? Oh. My. Gosh. They take even longer than that. So don't even think about holding your breath for that one.

But this is why I find it funny that people get so upset about whether someone friends them or defriends them on Facebook. I suppose that if my very best friend defriended me, I would of course be upset, but someone I haven't talked to in five years and only know about their lives from Facebook updates? No, I won't really be too sad and honestly, I probably won't even know they're gone. I'm sorry. That's mean. But, I'm can't lie. And ex-boyfriends? Nope, won't really be heartbroken if they defriended me either. Some people get upset about co-workers them. Really though? I mean, you're co-workers.

The day after hearing that essay on PR, I was driving to work and listening to a different radio station and someone on the morning show was complaining about how they were recently defriended. This man was so upset because even though they hardly ever talk, they're still friends. Really? Are you sure? Maybe your acquaintances, but I have a hard time believing you're actually friends. And acquaintances, by the way, are defined as, "a person one knows slightly, but who is not a close friend." I mean, do you know how work is going for him, other than through a Facebook update? Maybe he had a health scare that he didn't feel the need to broadcast to 400 random people, would you be aware of that if he didn't? 

I find that mostly people "befriend" each other in order to feel connected, to feel a sense of belonging. And I think this is true not just in the virtual world either. But, I also think that unless there's years and years of history there, then you're just acquaintances. I listened to another essay on PR (noticing a trend? I appreciate the thought provokingness of it...) about society's need to belong to something, whether it be a country club or a gang- and really, if you think about it, there is no real difference in the reasons as to why people join one or the other, and really there isn't even a difference as to why people join networking sites or befriend 300 people. It's all a matter of needing to feel connected and a sense of belonging. You belong to something.

And don't get me wrong, I am not at all holier than thou. I'm part of this crowd too somewhere. I belong to  Facebook. I even belong to Myspace. And it's all for the same reasons as anyone else. The difference though is in how you view your friends. Just because someone defriends you doesn't mean they don't like you. I defriended an ex because his girlfriend likes to spy on everyone as she is logged on as him. No thanks, really. And it's not like you're missing the invitation to the birthday party or the wedding. I just think it's silly how wound up people get on being defriended. And I guess I do to, because I just dedicated a nice blog post to it.

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