Will you be my friend? Yes or No.

Posted on May 23, 2008

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When I was a kid, it was that easy.  Will you be my friend, yes or no?  In fact, it was easier than that.  We lived in a town where I had 20 classmates.  We were friends by default.  There was no internet, no cell phones, no texting or emailing your friends.  If you wanted to hang out with someone, you picked up the phone, dialed their 4-digit phone number and asked them to meet you somewhere.  (No, I'm not that old, it was Nebraska.  We were a little behind the times with the whole 10-digit thing.)

It's much more complicated now.   Something I've been thinking about for awhile was the topic of Steven Levy's column today.  Are your friends online your friends outside the virtual world, too?  Personally, I use Facebook and other social networks to connect with people that I know offline, but maybe don't see as much as I'd like.  I'll admit that I've been suckered into friending people that I don't know, but in general, you need to meet me in person before I'll be your online friend. 

Is it a generational thing?  I'm not sure.  Are older or younger people more prone to accepting requests from people they don't know?  And, how does this change the nature of your "real life" relationship?  Say you run into someone you haven't seen in a while…  If you've been following their friend feed, maybe it enhances your relationship because you feel like you've been a part of their life all along.  Or maybe that's just being a stalker and the value of your friendship is slowly diminishing because you don't ever have to pick up the phone and dial their 10 digits.

What do you think?  Do you friend people that you don't know?  Are your offline relationships better or worse because of your online ones? 

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