“How many Facebook friends do you have?” asks José.
“Eight hundred and eighty two!” I reply, a tad sheepishly.
“You better delete some of them.” says José.
“Why?” I ask, worried that there’s a security risk connected with having so many friends on Facebook.
“I just read we can only ever have 150 friends at the most.” says José.
Of course, he went on to offer me some from his quota – if couples were allowed to have 300 between them!!
It was rather difficult explaining to José that all 882 ‘friends’ are not really all friends. Some are old colleagues, some ex-students, some blogger connections, some forum connections.
Can we manage to have meaningful relationships with more than just the old numbers? Yes, I can find out what you had for breakfast from your tweet, but can I really get to know you better? These digital developments help us keep in touch, when in the past a relationship might just have died; but in the end, we actually have to get together to make a relationship work. – Robin Dunbar
I’m not sure I completely agree with Robin Dunbar. I find it difficult to explain to people how some Facebook and Blogging friends who I’ve never met in person can be such an integral part of my life. The level of sharing and authenticity is amazing. Then I read this article and I wonder if we need to redefine friendship.
Obviously there’s a whole lot more to friendship than sharing links, songs, and moving pictures (even if they’re pictures of spinning disco chickens, or of an epic sports catastrophe). But I wonder sometimes if the shifts in expectation that accompany devolved friendship don’t migrate across platforms and contexts in ways we don’t always see or acknowledge. Social media affects how we see the world—and how we feel about being seen in the world—even when we’re not engaged directly with social media websites. It’s not a stretch, then, to imagine that the affordances of social media platforms might also affect how we see friendship and our obligations as friends most generally. ~ Whitney Erin Boesel
Ever since I moved to Mumbai and started blogging, I’ve needed to redefine friendship. I’m really happy that I’ve finally managed to make some friends here but always grateful too for those ‘digital’ friends whose friendship means so much to me.
Do you think we need to redefine friendship in this age of social media?
- The Give and Take of Friendship (aiminglow.com)
- Friendship at Work and Beyond (sowhatwouldyousay.wordpress.com)
- Does Facebook Encourage Lazy Friendships? (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)