Who or What is a Friend?

Social network sites such as Facebook and Instagram have created new meanings for the term “friend”.

In keeping with the contemporaneousness of many things in today’s throw away society, social network friendships can be made or lost as quickly and as simply as a single left click of the mouse.

There are different criteria used by people to determine who their social media friends should be. One criterion is to obtain the maximum possible number. People using this criterion often use their large following as a money making exercise, making recommendations for products and services in their posts in exchange for recompense from the firms concerned.

Another criterion appears to be that people want their “friends” to be virtual clones of themselves. Numerous posts state that if you disagree with a certain idea or belief that someone has, you will be “unfriended”. Social media actively encourages this sort of attitude. Views held by someone are reinforced by Facebook by feeding more and more stories with the same or similar views.

This morning I read Facebook post with a photo of a completed Marriage equality survey form with the “no” box ticked. The person making the post felt the need to state that she was “sorry”, but was voting “no”. Why apologise? Well, she obviously realised that many of her Facebook “friends” would have a different viewpoint from hers. And, they surely did, and let the original poster know in a tirade of obnoxious and in some cases abusive comments in response to her post. The irony of one accusation of “intolerance” is apparently beyond the intelligence level of the accuser, who is indeed intolerant for not accepting that it is okay for others to have views different from theirs.

The world would be a boring place to be if we all thought and believed the same things. Diversity is good and should be embraced. Numerous studies have in fact shown that workplaces where diversity is encouraged are more innovative and successful, than workplaces in which things are always done the same way.

Back to the question, “who or what is a friend”? I accept that social media “friends” can be different from real friends. Even though real friends may also be social media friends. Also, I am quite comfortable for any friends of mine, regardless of how they are categorised, to have views on various subjects that are different from mine.

And, maximising the number of friends on social media. Well, to be honest I did try going down that path at one stage, particularly with my Instagram account. But, some of the practices that have been suggested to maximise numbers are to say the least unethical, and my foray into maximisation of friends and followers was short lived.

I have a smart phone, but usually use it only as a telephone and for sending and receiving SMS’s. I still have an Instagram account, but use it very infrequently. Facebook I usually check daily, some times twice daily, but I am never on it for more than about an hour at a time. It is important for us all to have a life beyond social media, and I plan on making mine that way. I will not respond to your emails straight away, because I now check them only infrequently. Facebook would like people to be available 24/7 to respond to messages. I am not going to be pressured by what I can only describe as their subtle bullying. So, if you have sent me a message on Facebook, Linkedin, Starnow or email; you can generally expect a response within forty-eight hours. If you don’t get one, and the matter to you is reasonably urgent, try sending me an SMS on 0403 543 827.