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BEAN Minneapolis Blog

8 Definitions of Friendship in the Age of Social Media
"How many friends do you have?" used to be a pretty simple question a decade ago. (Answers from 10 years ago would have been a range of numbers that's unlikely to be in the three digits.) It was almost as simple of a question as "What kind of phone do you have?" would have been a decade ago. (Answer from 10 years ago would likely have been "I don't know. It's a phone. It's plugged into the wall. Who cares?")

In the social media age though, "how many friends do you have" is much more complicated. It depends on how you see your "friends" and what they mean for you.

1. If "Friends" are like Facebook Friends

Friends starts out originally as friends by the real-world meat-space definition, i.e. people with whom you mutually enjoy spending time together with. But, gradually, friends start to include co-workers, family members, neighbors, cool guy you met at a party once and creepy girl from elementary school that used to eat crayons. Your friends are now mostly people who are creepy and people you don't know.

2. If "Friends" are like eBay Friends

Friends are channels through which you can buy and/or sell stuff. You get about cool discounts through them. You swap gadgets and clothes with them. You might have a personal list of ratings about how useful they are.

3. If "Friends" are like Twitter Followers

Friends means popularity. The more friends you have, the better. You think Ashton Kutcher and other celebrities are your friends who care about you. You think impersonal corporate entities like Comcast and Toyota are your friends who care about you. 20 years ago, people would think you are crazy.

4. If "Friends" are like LinkedIn Connections

Friends tell blatant lies for friends to get jobs. You give each other recommendations like "Blah robbed banks with AK-47 in order to help company meet quarterly target." or "Blah works harder than Jesus."

5. If "Friends" are like Foursquare Friends

Friends are your consensual stalkers. You also compete with your friends on how wasted you get when you go out.

6. If "Friends" are like Digg Users

Friends are people who passionately care about the same thing as you do. You and your friends all love the same people, movie, songs, books, news stories, blogs, video game, cars, food, phones and insect. Oh wait, you think dungbeetles are cooler than silkworms? Well then, f*** you and your entire family. I hope the heaven rains fire and brimstone upon you and your house you m*****f***er!!!!!!

7. If "Friends" are like MySpace Friends

Friends are emo music geeks and douchebags.

8. If "Friends" are like Amazon Friends

Friends are people who give you their opinions on everything you buy and own, whether you want them or not. Some of them like The Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve T-shirt, which is awesome.

I still prefer making friends and counting friends the old fashion way. Through college groups like Alpha Phi Omega and young professional groups like BEAN, I met most of my close friends. I look to my friends for counsels, advices, help and so much more. How do you define who your "friends" are, and what do they mean to you?


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