Social Media Relationships – It takes all kinds to make up this world. But when it comes to social-media to this day. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of what a “friend” means. Unlike a lot of the social-media extroverts out there. I have always been much more guarded in my choice of friends. Based on my experience, it takes a lot of time and energy to nurture a true friendship. That is one reason why it is virtually impossible for me to grasp. How any one person can have several hundred or even several thousand friends. What is even more unfathomable is many of these sites that have the most friends are usually the same ones. That are constantly in search of collecting even more friends.
For the most part. It’s common for these sites to ignore privacy settings in favor of inviting the public into their seemingly attention-deprived world. OK, I admit that may be a little opinionated; but like I said earlier, it takes all kinds. Essentially, many of these so-called friends are purely an assemblage of strangers. Who are collect on a site as a trophy, very similar to how a hoarder collects objects. Unlike a hoarder’s immaterial indulges. These friends actually have a specific role. Which is to pump up the already over-inflated egos of these attention-seeking site holders. It is interesting that these followers are call friends. This brings to mind the question, has social-media redefined what a friend is?
Now getting back to my pointed opinion. I honestly don’t get why anyone would want hundreds of would-be strangers to freely view their personal information and pictures. Which are, by the way, typically posted in abundance on the more self-indulged websites. I get it that there are various productive uses of social media sites. Such as business owners who use it as a marketing strategy to attract and/or retain clients. Another such instance may be for an aspiring entertainer to gain new followers.
I understand these and other practical uses for acquiring many friends on social media sites. Which I will later elaborate on in further detail. For me, the disconnect with this concept are the sites that primarily belong to middle-aged persons who. In my opinion, scream “Look at me, I am starving for attention!”. For no other reason than to accumulate more so-called friends to stroke their narcissistic egos.
Interestingly enough, there is usually only a small percentage of the friends on these social media sites (e.g., 5-15%). Who express comments and likes on a regular basis. However, the site holder seems to desperately rely on this small subset of friends to “Like” selfies and constantly reiterate. To them how wonderful, beautiful, lovely and gorgeous they are. And because there are usually no filters or privacy settings on these sites. Intimate messages between husbands and wife and/or between love, are put on full public display.
Some “friends” on these sites appear to have found a very convenient way to flirt and hook-up with other “friends”. Because now they can make inappropriate sexual comments or posts. And it is now referre to as “Like” instead of “Lust”… how convenient! On some of these sites, flurry of “Likes” and comments made by subset friends after someone posts yet another selfie. Remind me of a pack of dogs in heat all vying for the attention of one female dog. That may work in the animal kingdom, but on middle-aged social-media sites, not so much in my humble opinion.
The irony of this spectacle is that many social-media friends take their role very seriously. No matter how close or distant. Their actual connection is to the site holder. I already discussed role the subset of friends who are responsible for feeding the egos of some these site holders. However, even strangers on these sites, i.e., friends, have a role. They have been given carte blanche by site holder to participate in peep-show of sorts which overflows with personal information. Some of these sites are a criminal’s, i.e., friends, dream because they are provided free reign over all types of information from where a person lives, where they work, their birth place, birth year, maiden name, family contacts, where they vacation, when they vacation, who they vacation with and the list goes on.
I have read stories about major drama that can ensue after some friends/strangers have been unfriend from a website. Nowadays the act of unfriending someone from these sites can be consider a fate worse than death because, like I said, these friends take their role very seriously.
I know of people who would rather take the cowardly way out of unfriending a person from their website. Instead, they prefer to either abandon or shut down their entire site than to face a “friend” and tell them they have reconsidered the status of their friendship. Or even worse, avoid telling a mere acquaintance, “No”, if they ask to be added as a friend even if the site holder really does not want to friend them. Real friends would understand, but in the case of social media, it is not very clear what a real friend is.
Just for kicks, I googled the word “friend” and found the definition that I am most comfortable with which is, “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”. I scrolled down further to view the last entry of the definition and it stated that a friend is: “a person associated with another as a contact on a social-media website”. I was amuse by the example provide to demonstrate the correct use of the word friend in a sentence which state: “We’ve never met, but we’re Facebook friends”.
This social-media definition exemplifies my disconnect with the new-found definition of a friend. It seems to dehumanize the person in place of a thing, e.g., a contact. However, both friends and contacts seem to have the same level of importance and emotional connection to their mutual friend on social media.
During my interesting and admittedly rather constrained research on this topic, I found that there are definitely very distinctive types of social-media sites. Not surprisingly, there appears to be a strong correlation between the type of site and the number of friends associated with that particular site.
To begin with, the sites that have the most social-media friends usually belong to site holders who tend to spend the most time on social-media or have the greatest need for attention as predicted by the number of posts they make. Likewise, the more altruistic or entertaining the site is, the more friends there are associate with it, as well.
As I began to evaluate the differences in the types of sites, I found that they generally fall into at least four (4) distinct categories. I already described in detail what I would term “The Narcissist”. Of the four, one of my favorites is the one I term “The Connector/Family Bonder”. These sites are typically used to post motivational & inspirational messages and/or or to keep in touch with family and close friends (the old school definition of a friend).
The Connector/Family Bonder generally has a couple hundred friends and, unlike The Narcissist, these sites generally have restrictions placed on them for privacy so their personal information is not accessible to the public. There is a need to connect, not to get public attention. The second type of site is what I term “The Activist / Humanitarian”. This site posts social issues that bring public attention to current events and societal injustices.
The primary objectives of these sites appear to be to evoke others to take action or to at least express an opinion on current events. Normally, the Activist/Humanitarian has hundreds and even up to a thousand friends associated with their site. They typically do not have privacy settings because, for the most part, their posts are meant for public viewing and are not necessarily personal or self-promoting in nature. The third site is what I call “The Up & Coming Entertainer”. These sites are of aspiring entertainers, actors, and models. They usually post hundreds if not thousands of pictures and articles of the site holder to boost their notoriety. They can easily have several thousand friends associated with their site.
In summary, social-media has truly redefined the meaning of a friend. I love researching the different types of social-media sites. And how the different categories correlate to the number of friends that are associate with each site. Even though social media has redefine what a friend is, I still believe in the try and true old school definition a friend is which is “a person attach to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”.
These are the people that, in my view, will have your back when push comes to shove, so to speak. It takes a lot of effort and energy to nurture this type of authentic friendship which is impossible to duplicate for masses of people.
Although I have not adopted the new social media definition of friend, these types of friends certainly serve their own purpose. Whether it is to motivate / connect with family & friends, call public attention to social injustices, or self-promotion (for whatever reason); everyone has a right to their own concept of or purpose for having or being a friend. For me, the following quote best describes my own personal view concerning friendship and the type of social media. friend I am: “As I get older, I am more selective who I consider a friend. I find that I would rather have 4 quarters than a 100 pennies” ~Unknown. The question is, what type of friend are you?