Thursday, 21 July 2011

Friends or Acquaintances

Technology is great! I like the information available at my fingertips, I like the easy connectivity of social networking, I like being able to show pictures of my dogs or holidays to my friends in an instant.

I used to be regular of Facebook, but these days I use it mainly as a photo sharing website and to publicise my blog.

I use Twitter in a far different way, as a daily communication, a means of accessing the outside world. I read opinion on the issues of the day, I offer and receive prayer from twitter contacts who share a connection with this God chap. It causes me to stop and think, on a fairly regular basis.

Now there is Google+ and with this the option to place all contacts into different circles, almost a ranking system. This ensures that certain people see certain feeds and therefore others do not. This has been cause for debate on the nature of friendship. What does it take for a person to be in the friend group rather than in the acquaintances group? How is my relationship with these people different?

In the world outside the internet, otherwise known as 'real life' I have few personal friends. Before you go all soft and worry about lonely old me, allow me to qualify that statement. I have few personal friends because in order for me to classify someone as a friend I have to have made a serious emotional connection with them. On the other hand I have many very lovely and special acquaintances. I care about all the people I am in contact with in this mortal life, they are in my prayers, I wish them well, I enjoy their company, this does not necessarily mean that they are all therefore my closest friends.

I recently had a look at my facebook friends list, and after having a look, I decided that it was time to do some reordering. There was no point having people on my list to 'make up the numbers' a sort of popularity parade left over from teenage years, if they were on the list and they never interacted with me nor I with them then they were removed. At present 99.9% of facebook contacts, are people I have met in real life. However the percentage of those who fit into the friend category as I see it, is very very much smaller.

My twitter accont is very different, the vast majority of people I follow and/or am followed by I have never met in the flesh. However, I appreciate their tweets, I am challenged, comforted, and entertained by them and I get to know people just that little bit better through reading their tweeting.

Google+ is only in its infancy - I barely understand the mechanisms of it, and at the moment in my account, like facebook, everyone is a friend. I am not sure whether a new social network would add anything to my online existance and am only tentatively involved. To separate everyone (I only have about 5 contacts at the moment anyway) into groups seems rather lacking in point. I don't feel it is appropriate to talk about sensitive subjects (i.e. subjects one is not comfortable sharing with anyone other than their closest friends) in great depth on a social networking website. I also value transparency, bitching behind other's backs belongs in the playground. So for these reasons my friends and acquaintances will be remaining mixed. As they are on Facebook and Twitter. If I don't trust them - I wont add them. Simple.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this very interesting post. Looked at from the standpoint of someone who isn't on any social medium other than my blog (if that counts) and some internet forums on areas of special interest, I wonder how anyone manages to get anything else done if involved in social media. My husband is reluctant for me to join Facebook for privacy reasons and I'm not sure whether Twitter is for me either. As for Google + - I'm totally in the dark :-)