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?