What's This All About?

Check out The ABC's of Insecurity and learn more.

What's so great about the Ivy League anyway?

Monday, June 15, 2009

How Many Friends Do You Have?

This isn't an easy question to answer these days. Because (too) many of us have Facebook friends and Twitter followers and then, if we are lucky, some "real" friends. You know - the living and breathing kind who smile and sob and tell stories and sip coffee. The best kind.

The NYT Idea of the Day blog explores the evolving meaning of friendship in this contemporary landscape of social media madness in its piece What Do Friends Mean? The Week in Review staff maintains that the concurrent rise of social media and decline of the economy has prompted us to ponder the shifting psychological, social, and economic faces of human friendship. And, according to the NYT, what does this inquiry leave us with? Confusion.

Confusion is right. Online networking is complicating what was once a more simple, old school process of making friendships and then maintaining them. Furthermore, many of us are admittedly using Facebook and Twitter and other social media tools for professional purposes - whether to blast our authorial voice into the world or to hawk a product or a website. Are the people we encounter while joining in this cyber-conversation true friends or fellow pawns in a big bad game of self-promotion? Both, I imagine.

Furthermore, the NYT piece suggests something alarming and sad; that the current recession is ruining true real-world friendships. Slate author Emily Bazelon states, “Because of the downturn, friendships between two people whose Saturday-night spending and overall class status used to calibrate precisely have now turned into trickier relationships between one person who still has money and one person who doesn’t.” A troubling statistic? Per the NYT, Science Daily data indicates that we lose about half of our close network members every seven years. Cheerio.

How do you define friendship these days? Has the current economic climate compromised any of your good friendships? Has your adoption of online friends and followers had an impact on your relationships with your real world friends?


  1. Dear Aidan Donnelley Rowley,

    I'm a new reader who has been totally charmed by your wit and perspective. Can't wait for the book release! I happen to be vacactioning in New York City (and the vicinity, read: Hamptons. Any opinions?) this summer. I'd love to see an entry on your favorite things to see/do/eat in New York!

  2. I am not sure the virtual world has affected my real life friendships negatively. I'd say that becoming a mom 8 years ago this June 27th has had the larger impact. I still have friends pre-kids but with the exception of a couple of work colleagues who have blossomed into full fledged friends, all of my current real life friends have a kid connection. I have made a couple of friends online that believe it or not I met through urbanbaby/youbemom. One particular friend I met seemed like she and I lived parallel lives, down to our marriages, ages of our kids, career choice etc. We lost touch for about a year and I found out she died of a freak illness. As much as I enjoyed our chats online, I have been so affected by her loss, perhaps more so than a real life friend b/c in a way I knew her so much better. (maybe because there wasn't the pretense of the public face). Her impact on me is lasting, no less than a good friend irl. For me, online friendships have not affected my real world friendships, but the internet has simply chartered a new venue for friendship.
    Great post! I'm still here reading but busy at work, it's really cutting into my commenting :)! Keep it coming!

  3. Anonymous #1 - So thrilled to have you vacationing here at ILI and I will absolutely cook up a fun guide to NYC (or certainly areas thereof), so stay tuned!

    Anonymous D - Thank you for your thoughtful comment (as always). That is so terrible about your online friend... I plan on exploring the phenomenon of online friendships/connections/relationships a lot more here on the blog as I think this is the wave of the future and endlessly fascinating...


Join the conversation. What do you think? Be honest. Be bold. Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me about that typo. Tell me I'm splendid. Or tell me I'm spoiled. But if you want your comment to be seen, keep it clean.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter