I’ve been considering the question of “friends” on Facebook. I have been getting a lot of friend requests lately and suspect that the algorithm is putting my mug in front of people as someone who they should be connected with.
So I have accepted requests from people in Ho Chi Minh City and places in Russia I can’t even read! Some of these friends immediately offer sexual services and obviously they aren’t likely to be very real so they don’t stay friends for long, but most people are interested and interesting enough to sit latently on my list of contacts.
Which got me thinking that the idea of Friendship is impossibly positive. You can’t have a bad friend – but you can have a good one. You can’t have a worst friend but you can have a best one. We simply don’t have a language for “friends gone bad”.
De-friending someone isn’t something I’ve done since I was in primary school – where the concept of being someone’s friend used to be pretty exclusive. Nowadays, my attitude is to live with people who I don’t agree with and see if we can find a way of making something out of our being connected.
Many think I don’t like John Ralfe because our interchanges on twitter are a little testy. John may think differently , but I have no reason to think of him as anything but my friend.
The concept of unequivocal and unquestioning love – extends even further in friendship. While you can fall out of love, you cannot fall out of friendship. Friendship lasts for ever… friendship never ends.
This is a strong Christian teaching, I think it underpins the saying of Christ when asked how many times he should forgive, the priest asks “seven” and Christ replies “seventy seven” being an impossibly large number. It really is like that. There is no reason to unfriend if forgiveness is asked for.
This may sound a little flakey and far from any concrete conclusion. But it underpins my thinking about building social networks. Unless someone is actually a menace on social media, I will confirm them as a friend and validate them by my friendship. They have asked for that and I will do that.
One of the tasks we set ourselves at AgeWage was to get 500 likes for our Facebook page. We’re not there yet but we’re close. Why is it important to us? It’s because it proves something to us internally and shows others that it matters to us that they like us.
This isn’t as flakey as it sounds. Confidence in others is very much based on the behaviour of our peers, the 400+ people who invest in AgeWage on Seedrs do so because they like the idea of AgeWage – there isn’t much else to like at this stage in our development.
I doubt that I could do what I want to do with AgeWage without being liked and connected as I am. My contacts are an ongoing validation of what I want to do and though it is very hard to unfriend people, I believe in keeping my friends happy by keeping them in the loop.
Friendship is an odd thing and many will say that Mark Zuckenberg has appropriated the word for Facebook and is devaluing it. I don’t think Facebook devalues friendship, I think it challenges us to understand how that person in Ho Chi Minh city can have a better time by being my friend.
This is the optimism within the word “friendship” and why I think it entirely the right word for social media connections. So if you want to send me a friendship request or a linked in connection request or to follow me on twitter – please do. I’m more than happy to be you friend – you can’t be my worst friend!