I’m on Facebook now and have been for many months. At first, a few of my close friends found me, although I’m not sure how. Good stuff. These were people I was invested in and who felt a strong tie to me. We had a nice time catching up and sharing information about our lives. We chatted, shared photos, and it all worked well because we knew each other. So, calling them my “friends” seemed right and appropriate.
Long Lost Acquaintances
Then something interesting happened. People I used to know, but haven’t had contact with in 30 years began to request “friendship” status. Because I’m a nice person, and because it might be interesting to see what they had been up to over the last three decades, I began to accept their invitations. I also extended friendship requests to a few long lost acquaintances.
But after I accepted their friendship, I never heard from them. I offered some initial contact with some of them, and had a few responses that were brief. Most, however, did not respond at all.
A Collections of Names
I noticed that some of my “friends” had hundreds of friends. I saw one “friend” who had almost 2,000 friends. Wow! Then it hit me. They are not in contact with most of their friends. They have simply accumulated a list of names and photos that represent people with whom they have no intention of having any serious dialogue. It’s as though they simply liked to collect “friends” without the concomitant real relationship that typically characteristic friendships. Like a baseball card collection. They were friends without the benefits and responsibilities of friendship.
So, for the most part, I’ve stopped accepting such “friend” requests. It’s not (let’s be honest) very interesting to have my Facebook account filled with the musings and quips and of people I don’t know. I really don’t care what they had for dinner. I don’t need to spend time gazing at photos of their grandchildren—as cute as they are. So I’ve stopped.
How Does This Shape Us?
What does it say about the nature of friendship, when we claim to have 500 friends, most of whom we never correspond with or really care about.
How does that view of friendship shape our character and how we live in the world?
Thanks for reading,