We can all agree that Facebook has changed the meaning of privacy. Before Facebook, we never would have dreamed of calling each of our friends on the phone to tell them what we had for breakfast. Now we don’t give a second thought to posting a picture of it, commentary, perhaps even a recipe, for all the world to see, whether they be friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and a former boss or two. Perhaps even a few “frenemies” have remained on our Facebook friend list for one reason or another. They can find out that you had scrambled eggs with Spam and slightly scorched oatmeal, and that’s barely scratching the virtual surface.
Sure, we can adjust our settings and filter what different friends see, but overall most of our Facebook friends have access to an astonishing array of information about our lives. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s TMI — too much information! (I especially hate it when people post photos of their wounds.)
Most Facebook friends’ lists are an eclectic collection of people from all corners of our lives. In the real world, our former bosses (who incidentally have become awesome friends to me) probably never would have had the opportunity to interact with our high school drama teacher (hi, Mr. Templin!). In the virtual world, anything is possible.
My Facebook friends know I love them, and I’m very grateful to have them in my life. The love and support they’ve shown me is boundless.
But the question I am pondering is this: has Facebook changed the fundamental nature of friendship? Have we lost touch with the real meaning of friendship? Most people these days are loathe to pick up the telephone, preferring a quick text message, and I sense that many of my friends would rather receive a text rather than a phone call (perfectly understandable when the kids are napping). But it’s impossible for the quick text message to take the place of a phone call or in-person visit to understand what is really going on in a friend’s life.
Perhaps you recall the “poke” feature on Facebook. I used to use it all the time when corresponding with friends, but I had friends who used it as a substitute for sending me an actual written message. The “poke” was their way of saying hello, and all they had to do was click the mouse one time. For example, I would send a message and the response would be a virtual “poke.” Lame! I think it speaks volumes that the “poke” feature was phased out. It means that people didn’t feel it was a meaningful communication vehicle. I had fun with the feature, but at the same time I’m really glad that my friendships aren’t reduced to a series of “pokes.”
There is the question of who belongs on our Facebook friends list. What about those “frenemies”? There are various definitions for “frenemy,” but the gist of it is that it’s a person you are nice to even though you don’t like them. Or they are a friend but also a rival. Often this applies to co-workers.
I think that certain people often remain on a Facebook friends’ list for political reasons, or to avoid hurt feelings or bad blood, but sometimes getting “friended” by a backstabbing co-worker, former boyfriend, or bully from elementary school can be, in my daughter’s words, “AWK-WARD”! And yet, we often accept their friendship. But are they really our friends?
I personally would not choose to accept such friend requests because I want my Facebook friends to be people whose friendship I value, and whom I want to have in my life. Perhaps it’s a professional relationship or someone whom I would like to know better. There’s always a definite positive reason that a person is on my Facebook friends’ list, primarily because I think he or she is a wonderful person, and I’d like to stay in touch.
How about you? Do you think Facebook has forever changed the nature of friendship? How do you decide who is on your friends list? Have your friendships changed since the invention of Facebook? Let’s talk!