Thanks to the plethora of social networks out there (MySpace, Facebook, Ning and countless others), the meaning of a ‘friend’ is changing. Just because you are on someone’s friend list does not mean that you are a friend in the traditional sense (hang out, talk on the phone, gossip, etc). In fact, many people try to amass great lists of friends, many they have never met and some have resorted to purchasing friends (yes, you read that right).
LibrarianInBlack posts on her friending predicament and I’ve had similar feelings. This is particularly true when it comes to more professional networks, like Ning. I often don’t know the people who friend me and I may only know others I friend because I read their blog or have chatted once in Second Life. I’ve often wondered if I should accept a friend I don’t know or reach out to someone I barely know. I’ve decided that when it comes to more professional networks (if they can be called such), I will friend them. You never know when an opportunity will arise because of this loose connection. I’ve had it happen and hopefully any future such interactions will be positive.
The definition of friend is morphing into something larger than it ever was – it could be aquaintance or colleague- but I think most people realize this change is happening. Real friends still exist and just because you’re on a friend list does not mean you’re a true friend. Most people are not offended by this thought. So let the friending continue!