Are Facebook Friends Real Friends?

Once you create your Facebook page one usually goes through an intense 3 month period of cataclysmic addiction and novelty.

You analyze all your friends and what they’re up to online.  You’re constantly checking your page to see if anyone has written you or posted anything new.  You are excited each time you find another old face popping up online- it’s a honeymoon and you are head-over-heels.  But after a few months the excitement dies down and you begin to shift into maintenance mode.  The constant checking switches into an “email mode” where it’s more routine than exciting.  Also you notice that the amount of new friends you’re adding has died down to an occasional addition. After a while you’re pretty much done adding new friends and get into a Facebook funk.  That’s ok.  It’s natural.

But what about as the months go on and random people who you once knew or who you weren’t really friends with at all back in the day start getting in touch?  What about the box on your profile that says “You have 237 friends.”  What does that mean?  Are they really all your friends? Should you stop friending people because you are only acquaintances and not really “friend-friends” with them?

A lot of us have desired to go on long de-friending binges on Facebook; slashing and cutting our friend lists back to a thinned out core collection of our “real” friends.  But what about for your business or organization- should you just add whomever to your friends list or try to keep your Facebook list to just the real people in your life who you are actually friends with?

Try to think of it like this:  Obviously everyone who is your “friend” on Facebook is not your truest and dearest friend.  Most research suggests that it’s actually impossible to have more than a few close friends and that most people in the world only have a few; less than 5.  That’s ok.  That’s what friends are- a small, select inner circle.  Now switch to Facebook’s perspective.  Facebook succeeds by keeping people online and by extending the conversations and discussion that are happening.  ”Friends” is just a word they picked.  That’s ok too. Better then calling Facebook users “units.”

So as you’re Facebooking remember that your inner circle of friends will be your friends no matter what.  You don’t have to sell your product or service to them online.  But also remember that everyone on Facebook either needs your service or knows someone that does. It’s not “unfriendly” to let them to know you’re out there and keep the lines of communication open.

Bottom line:  A social network is a commodity-driven product.  People are the commodity.  ”Friends” are commodities.  Your true friends will be your true friends even if Facebook disappears tomorrow.  For everyone else you’re friends with, go ahead and call them your friend, it doesn’t mean you’ll ever see them in real life but it’s the nature of the beast in the online world.

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