Friendship Redefined?

“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.

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and MyblogLog

                                                                                                         Friendship Redefined?

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?

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. As far as real friends go, I have very few. There are many, many people I like, associate with, and even stay in touch with via FB, but real friends are hard to come by, and hard to keep!

    UP

  2. Frankly Corinne, without you I would not have come to know all these wonderful people of the blogging world. Of course, we cannot fully know a person just through online interactions. Not everyone is honest. You can only be comfortable with a person to the limit you want to be. The conversations may range from nature to science; to astronomy to physic or politics and yet, you may not even know a fragment of the person’s personal life. It is my online friends who really understand my writing and it means a lot to me that we are in the same wavelength. All for all the other things….we have our family and real friends ;)

  3. We may redefine ‘friendship’ but the basics are never going to change. It is the same old quality versus quantity conundrum. To me a friend is someone whom I can fall back to ‘like a bridge over troubled waters’.
    umashankar recently posted..A Hole in My PyjamasMy Profile

  4. I have about 70 friends on FB but I feel like I could do with just 30. But those would be people whose updates I’d always be happy to see and they would also care about the news in my life. A more social friend of mine who has 250 friends never posts a single thing on FB because “she doesn’t want everybody to see”. That’s a perfect example of when instead of connecting, you withdraw from your own overcrowded network. I’m afraid different people have different expectations from and perception of Facebook. To some it’s a way to stay connected with all the people in your life you care about and don’t want to lose touch with. To others – connecting with everyone who crosses their life path, even a person they’ve met once and will never meet again.

    • Thanks for sharing, Katya. I can see how one sometimes has to guard against sharing ‘too much’ when you have so many people reading your updates. I see Facebook as a way of reconnecting with some people, making new connections and reaching out in some way. I’m certain that even if I had just 10 people on my list, I’d be reluctant to share things that are private to me – unless I met in person.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..This Moment {11 January 2013}My Profile

  5. I am sooo grateful for social media… I don’t have good luck with friends here in my hometown.. but because of social media.. (especially blogs and facebook) I have had true meaningful friendship.. I am proud when I tell someone that I have friends around the world… I know at anytime I can send an email or a private message that someone is there listening and holding my hand .. and I can do the same for someone….as far as I’m concerned I love friends I have found through social media.. including you my friend ..As always… XOXOXOXOXOXO
    Bongo recently posted..AVOIDANCE LOSESMy Profile

  6. Corinne, this post can’t be more timely. I have or rather had a few good ‘real’ friends but we have moved away from each other physically as well as emotionally. Inspite of talking occasionally, we have moved apart. I have made some very good online friends through blogging, blogger forums and Facebook and I’m glad to say that you are one of them. I think the basic principles of real friendship holds good even in online friendships. We look for the same qualities – trust, warmth, love and belonging. The online world has made a huge difference in my life and I’m thankful for the people I’ve met online. And, today we spend so much time online so these online friends are always accessible and we ofcourse can connect to these online friends offline as well.

    Joy always,
    Susan

  7. Well, Blogger frns are such an integral part of my life too! But, actual friends are very few… I interact, socialise, but personally close relationships are few.
    I am extremely grateful to social media because its helped me come in contact with like-minded folks. Some went on to become frns and some are still ‘blogger buddies’ or ‘fb frns’. :-)
    Pixie recently posted..Getting back to writing!My Profile

  8. I remember when you raised this issue last year. Maybe we don’t have to redefine friendship as much as we need to expand the definition to include this new type of friend. Really, though, it isn’t even that new. When I was growing up, many children had pen pals, not that much different than friendships that we develop online, except perhaps in quantity. It’s an intriguing topic, which warrants revisiting from time to time.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..A Warrior of WaitingMy Profile

    • Yes, Galen I remember the interesting conversation we had together with Harleena about this new type of friendship. I did have a pen pal too – a girl who lived in Australia – and some long lost connections in India. Her grandmother had studied in the school I was going to and my music teacher asked me to connect with this girl. Would you believe that it turned out that her long lost cousins were old friends with my Dad’s family and lived in Australia? They had a family re-union thanks to our pen pal connection. However, we sadly lost touch. Perhaps, I served the purpose I was meant to? :)
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..This Moment {11 January 2013}My Profile

  9. That is an interesting concept. We all have our online friends, but we also have our friends that will stand by us no matter what. I have never thought about redefining the friendship definition, but I always add “online” if they are a friend that I had never actually met. This post gave me something to think about.

    • I do find the whole gamut of changing relationships really fascinating. Just as an example, hugging is something very new that I’ve observed among the younger generation in India. So I watch people go through the motions but are not very comfortable with how it’s done. I think it’s a notion that we’ve adopted from watching American TV serials – Friends, for example! :)
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..This Moment {11 January 2013}My Profile

  10. I know people diss social media all the time, but it is a boon for an introvert like me. I get tired of talking to people at parties or face-to-face for a long time. Online, I just walk away!
    By the way, could I see the pictures of spinning disco chickens?! :P
    Roshni recently posted..Fate (Secret Subject Swap III)My Profile

  11. I agree with Galen…instead of redefining what it is, I’d rather ask how much space do I have in my heart ot accomodate this ‘type’ of friendship.

    I have four ‘real’ friends. We’ve known each other since we were ten years old. But I’ve also been thinking that we could have kept the warmth and excitement if we haven’t added each other in FB. There we do keep ourselves updated, but knowing me, I’d rather have the usual conversations, short SMS and long personal messages we receive in email. We used to have that. FB makes it soooo easy and I, kind of, don’t appreciate it that much…

    Like Jesus, I have friends, but I also have my inner circle. In the online world, out of a 102 perhaps, I have about five who I share my innermost thoughts and life with. Some have gone, some have managed to keep in touch. Reading blogs, I also come to know some friends better.

    I agree, more than sharing links, promoting friends’ works and following blogs, twitter, etc., friendship is something that is edifying ~ it’s about ‘sharing’ life…giving life to each other. It’s genuine loving. Maybe I ask too much, or maybe I don’t give as much… but I know that I could empty myself and accomodate more :)
    melissa recently posted..Early Retreat: Laying FoundationsMy Profile

    • First of all, you don’t ask too much, Melissa. If you can be accused of anything it would be giving too much. :) I understand what you say about FB making it so easy to connect that we don’t try hard enough to really connect! Since we seem to share so much online what’s left to say when we do meet, kind of thing. However, I believe that there’s so much more to each of us, and it’s only with our inner circle that we can truly communicate our inner thoughts, dreams, fears, etc. So while, I’m all for increasing our connections, I’m also for holding back a bit on statuses and such and seeking out people who I can connect with deeply.
      Thank you for adding so much value to this post as you always do to discussions, Melissa. ♥
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..Like A Sunflower My Profile

  12. Retha Groenewald says:

    Very interesting post. Sometimes we call people friends and they are actually acquaintances. Then we have different levels of friendships. I think, that is what is happening online as well. I have made friends online – when I see a new status on FB or a new post on their blog, I am excited to read the news and to communicate with them. These friend,s are the ones that if they lived close-by, we would become real friends. What I am trying to say is, I think we make friends online in the same way we make friends in the real world. If you are someone that loves networking, you are going to have 100s of friends on FB. If you are more the one-to-one friendship person, then that is what is going to happen on FB.

  13. Great post and question. I started writing my thoughts but the comment got too long. So I blogged my answer instead! (6WS – Friendship)
    Suzy recently posted..UBC Day 13 – 6WS – FriendshipMy Profile

  14. I think friendship shouldn’t be defined in online / offline terms. A friend is a friend – even if you’ve only ever met him/her in the virtual world. The medium isn’t important, the person is. :-)
    raja recently posted..Rape – and the Delhi wake-up call!My Profile

    • Thanks, Raja. What you say is absolutely right.
      However, there are certain people you can truly engage in an offline relationship with – while there are others on my ‘friends’ list who’ve been there for a while now – but there’s no real connection. With you, for example, we don’t connect much – but there’s a warmth of friendship when we do!
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..5 Ways To Stay ResourcefulMy Profile

  15. I will often qualify the word “friend” with “facebook” or “bloggie” or whatever when describing someone that I know only virtually. In many instances, these folks are people that I’m friendly with, but we haven’t yet reached the level of what I would consider a deep friendship. But, I don’t think that’s much different than saying “someone I work with”, or “a girl in my class”; it’s just someone that I know and interact with but haven’t moved the relationship to the next level. That doesn’t make them unimportant in my life, or diminish whatever level of concern I have for them. I think it’s hard to move to that next level virtually, but not impossible. I have a couple of friends that I met online–in a yahoo group, as I’ve known them since before facebook exploded. First we chatted there about our common interests, then moved to email, etc., and the relationship developed from there. We are scattered across the country, and have only spent a few days face to face in the years that we’ve known each other, but at this point, they are true friends (and were long before we ever “met”). I think they feel the same about me. So, I don’t think we need to necessarily redefine friendship, just acknowledge that there are different levels of any relationship and we now have many more opportunities to find friends in this day and age.

  16. True to “real” life I have a few “friends” in my social media world. There are people who have been there for everystep of my recovery from sexual abuse, the growth I have accomplished. These people have been there to encourage me, to give me reality checks when needed, to cry with me and to pray with me. No I wouldn’t have been able to have these relationships without FB, but I am so grateful for them. If it had not been for some of the folks I have met, I don’t think I would have survived. I could go on and on about how I value my cyber friends. The reality is I was way to shy and insecure to actually meet people in the “real world”, because of my cyber friends,I now have a life out side of FB and the blogosphere. I am forever grateful and will not give them up easily. <3<3<3
    jan recently posted..More of My StoryMy Profile

  17. Corine,

    You do make us think don’t you. Of course “friend” is already redefined. It certainly wasn’t a verb a few years ago :)

    I know I’m building Friendships online that just aren’t happening offline so I think we are in the process of change. It turn into HUGE change as thinks like Google Hangouts get better and better>

    Regards,
    Dr. Hale

  18. Hi, Corinne! ~

    I believe we need to redefine friendship because we are growing and evolving as individuals and as a species — social media is one aspect of that reality. But, I think it would be a mistake to think that ‘redefining’ friendship now means almost everybody can be my friend at the same time. I am familiar with Robin Dunbar’s theory about the 150 cap on friends and I think there’s something to it. It doesn’t mean everybody else is an ‘enemy’ but they are not friends. For me, it’s about being able to focus my energy and attention where it will do the most good for myself and the world.

    “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe
    Dangerous Linda recently posted..new year moon magicMy Profile

  19. I felt like I read this already and commented, but I couldn’t find my comment, so I’m going to comment again. I have such fantastic online friends…some of whom I’ve met. Some who are so near and dear to me. I think it used to be considered odd (you know when the Internet was young) but now? It’s the way a lot of people find friends. I consider my digital friends to be as important as my real life ones.
    Julie DeNeen recently posted..The Hazardous Road of Blogging Your ShitMy Profile

  20. I have shared some of my deepest connections with people I’ve never met. Friendship is undefinable and cannot follow accepted norms.
    purbaray recently posted..The Law will protect womenMy Profile

  21. I like Raja’s point above – the medium isn’t important – the person is. In the social media world, I’m not trying to build up a huge friend circle – just trying to get to know the people I already know and know them better. And if I don’t know them very well and we don’t really communicate, then not going to have a cyber friendship for the sake of numbers of followers, haha. Thanks for the lively discussion as always Corrinne.

  22. Completely agree with you Corinne! Sometimes I find myself opening out so much and fostering deep bonds with a person I’ve never met. I even met my husband virtually first. Like you point out, bad experiences can happen even with “real” friends. But, I am grateful for my friends and wellwishers of all variety.
    Rachna recently posted..Good SamaritanMy Profile

  23. I have always said this Corinne, I have made some wonderful friends online through blogging and FB – specially through you. Many of them know me much better than my real friends do !

    I feel so close to them even when I have not met any of them till now. And I even have a best friend whom I have never met till date but happens to be my best confidante!!

    :)
    privytrifles recently posted..Treasured Ardor – Chapter 1My Profile

  24. Anne
    Twitter:
    says:

    I also have a number of FB friends but only a few would make it to the list of people I can call at the middle of the night or just hang out with no prior notice. Friendship may be redefined by social media but I think friends will always be those who are close to home (and heart).

  25. Jon R. Patrick says:

    Absolutely we need to rethink ‘friendship’, and most Psychologists are doing just that.
    Number of true ‘friends’ – as defined by I interact with them frequently – hanging out, watching sports, etc. Zero
    Number of ‘friends’ I get together with infrequently – maybe 4
    Number of ‘friends’ I interact with online – hundreds. They provide humor, a glimpse into their life. Some are on facebook and I honestly get to know them (or what they present!) better than friends who live down the road. Some live on other Continents and I play online games with.
    The emotional attachment is there – I care about them and their well-being. I do believe it’s a 2nd-tier friendship, but it is a friendship none-the-less

  26. Honestly,in my opinion,FB friends are not really friends.At bet,one can share with them most unconcerned topics whereas FRIENDS otherwise are different,one can depend upon them share life with them ………
    B k Chowla recently posted..SIGNATURES…A SCIENCE?My Profile

  27. I do think we need to redefine friendship. While I am blessed to have made several wonderful new “real life” friends when I moved here just over a year ago, that in no way diminishes the value of the many online friends (most of whom I’ve never met face-to-face) who have been in my life for so long, offering support and encouragement and their own unique insights.

    Great post, Corinne… I’ll be sharing this!
    Dawn Storey recently posted..Sunday Summary &#8211; Life Got Busy EditionMy Profile

  28. I can honestly say I have more friends online that in real life. If I saw them in real life most of them would march right past me without even a hello. By far the blogging friends are the best of the bunch.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com
    Kathy recently posted..Super Powers…I Wish!!My Profile

  29. I’ve made some great online friends. You corinne being one of them :). Real friends are important, but people whom we meet online can be great friends too. You get to learn so much from them. I’ve made some great friends via facebook and the blogging world. As you stated in one of the comments ” We need to hone our instincts to find real people in the digital world” Loved your post :)

  30. Hi Corinne.
    Its been amazing to experience the number of online friends I have made in the past 2 years. The great thing I noticed is how many people are willing to have a relationship that involves helping each other in some way.
    Justin recently posted..The Rise of the Feminine and the End of the Patriarch SystemsMy Profile

  31. 1. I have aquanitances
    2. I have friends
    3. I have LIFE Time Friends
    They all serve a purpose in my life. Xxx
    PS. I do not consider all 500 friends on facebook my friends, but I do treasure them….
    my inner chick recently posted..Dancing With The GoddessMy Profile

  32. Wonderfully thought provoking post! I have some real good friends whom I have met (virtually) through blogging. They are just like our regular real life friends, the only difference is that you have not met them.
    The definition of ‘Friends’ on Facebook needs to be re-defined though. Everybody is a friend, whether he/she is a school mate or a colleague at workplace or a person whom you met just yesterday… :D
    Shilpa Garg recently posted..Ten on Tuesday – 27My Profile

  33. HI Corinne

    I’m new to FB but made a good number of connections in a short time.

    Thanks for this.

    Sapna
    sapna recently posted..A Naive Bloggers Day Without ElectricityMy Profile

  34. sukanya bora says:

    We redefine friendships along the way-some get redefined through concerted, conscious effort while others evolve, devolve naturally without us putting much thought or effort.
    I have realised I have become a snob with age. A friendship snob. I am very selective about making new friends, more so on social media platforms like Facebook. I have some 52 odd requests that I still need to accept and in all likelihood, they will remain so, unaccepted. I am happy, content with my dwindled list of true friends. They may not be many but they are my handful besties for whom I walk till the end of the earth.

  35. Hi Corinne,

    I have built incredibly great friendships online. Some of them I am actually much closer to than some people I know in my “physical” life, so to speak.

    Now, I realize that many of my facebook “friends” I really don’t know much, but now I always try to get to know new people I’m connecting with.

    To conclude I would have to say that online friendships do exist :)
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..What Is Your Writing Style And Why You Should Care?My Profile

  36. Save My Marriage says:

    Well, it is true that true friendships are hard to come by. I can’t say I’ve made any great friends using social media site like facebook and twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these sites. In fact, I love Facebook, but not because I made a lot of lovely friends through it. It’s because I was able to reconnect with so many of my old friends whom I had lost touch with. Facebook helps me keep in touch with so many friends which would have been impossible otherwise. But frankly speaking, you can’t really trust random people on the internet.

  37. Jamie Sussel Turner says:

    Great post, Corrine! And thanks so much for the link to my blog on friendship. To me it’s all about connection. Here I am wide awake at 2:41am and not quite minding my sleeplessness since it’s giving me a chance to connect with you! Oh, and I have my first book coming out in about a month. Let me know if you have an interest in reviewing it. The title is: Less Stress Business: A Guide to Hiring, Coaching, and Leading Great Employees.

    • Hi Jamie – Thank you – you reminded me of a post written over a year back and that’s always nice! Between you and me, sometimes I’m quite fascinated to read my old posts and wonder who wrote them! Ha ha…just kidding!
      It’s 2.22 pm here and we’re having a late lunch. I’m smiling because you haven’t gone to bed yet! But’s that’s the beauty of connecting online, isn’t it?
      Congratulations on your book. I would certainly like to review your book – and might something even better to offer. I’ll email you just now to see how we can work out things out.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..Composers For Relief Supporting The PhilippinesMy Profile

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