At first, let me be clear to separate the meaning of friendship from the highly inappropriate declaration of “friends” on networks such as facebook. I personally add a lot of people – mostly to promote my photography my criteria for adding someone aren’t too high – I guess not many people only add their real friends anymore – since you organize basically everything via that platform.
What I refer to as friends in this little text are the lucky people you would give a star to – the ones you actually like and occasionally hang out and share secrets with.
Disproportionally to the counter of people you have added on facebook, the number of real close friends keeps getting smaller. If we consider to have a rather big choice of people – which are getting more and more accessible through the cyberspace – why is that so?Of course, this is a broad field, but that doesn’t mean I cannot give it a shot. I’ll go with some good old naïve empiricism.
1. We get more and more picky
If you have a list of 1000 or so people you basically have met and could talk to, it will include several interesting human beings. So there’s always a little hint of fear that you hang out with the wrong people – the big supply reduces people to what they present themselves as on facebook. And that reflection will also affect real life. People who don’t post their latest adventures (god help if they do not even have facebook) catch a lot of odd looks.
What you see on your facebook wall will always be a distortion of society – as it happens in every kind of media. This has several reasons.
Firstly, the people we add are from our environment. This fact alone is a distortion – since you will (sadly) always rather have contact with people of the same social background and education as yourself.
Secondly, the web isn’t the real world, and therefore different people will seem more or less active than they really are. (The correlation and effects on real life by that can surely be found in some studies, but I’ll leave it at that.)
Thirdly, facebook does not even show you everything that’s going on with the people you added. What will usually pop up are “top stories”, i.e. posts of people you already hang out with or chat with. This is not a good or bad thing; I’d just like to state it since some people seem not to be aware of the fact. And you also filter people yourself by unsubscribing to their posts. So some people will drown in that pool of awkwardness – you don’t even dare to write them a message on facebook since you don’t even greet each other on the streets anymore.
3. Delicate Information will cause more harm
Those “a-bit-too-candid-shots” land on facebook, spotted pages spot a bit too much, a bad breakup ends up as a raging war of comments. Most of us have seen or experienced something like that and want to prevent events like that. Hence, we are (at least I hope so) more careful not only with what we post, but also with what we share with other people. We keep more secrets, worrying about our image and what others could post about us. Gossip takes less time to spread wider, a photo is uploaded quickly without thinking about it. And anonymity of the world wide web gives a diluting effect, making it hard to find roots or extinct rumors. But in my opinion, what makes friendship is: not having to hide anything, overcoming the acting of your character, just being yourself.
Doubtlessly, facebook helps getting closer to people – but I hope you also have some people to share yourself with – analogue and without any fear.