Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Friendship 2.0

Yes, it's another one of those otherwise normal terms, which become 'new Internet age' once you add the '2.0' suffix. But, actually, it's truly remarkable how radically different friendships have become because of the Internet; and with the latest social networking websites there's clearly a major shift in the way we deal with people who we would previously call friends without much to show for in terms of keeping in contact or declaring our friendship.

Allow me to simplify this idea. In high school, I had a friend who moved to Canada after graduation and I haven't seen him for over a decade. Apparently, he's a Facebook user and after conducting a search he figured out I was on Facebook too, and he sent me 'an invitation' to join his list of friends.

Let's take a look closely at what's happening here. First, he has declared to me that he still regards me as a friend, then he adds me to a publicly accessible list of friends thereby telling them and the rest of the world that I am his friend, and encouraging some of them to be my friends too.

All of this by just spending a few minutes in front of a PC, without the hassle of searching for my phone number or email, without calling me, without having to explain at length that he's still my friend and that we must stay in touch and so on.

Amazing! I am startled by Facebook, where I now have a list of friends most of whom I have not seen for years (therefore had no contact with anymore) or whom I met once or twice but apparently left an impression!

And you sprinkle some family members and friends of friends onto this list and you end up with a proud, long list of Facebook friends to show the world!

Next, you start being 'poked' by these friends, or they 'write a message on your wall'. It's so easy and effortless that it sucks you in, and you actually answer. Short messages coming in, mean you provide short, easy to produce answers…. No pressure!

What's more, you would have never called this person to ask "how have you been?", or "how's you day?", and just looking at a friend's Facebook page and witnessing his/her recent activity- which is detailed, such as recent communications with other friends or invitations sent or received- you'll know this person is alright and active.

Again, no pressure and no need to contact your 'friend' directly to see that all is well. Again, amazing!

I'm not going to go into the 'social circle' aspects of Facebook groups, which are equally engaging and provide many more social interactions and benefits, simply because I haven't gotten into that yet and because I sense it's turning into a means to organize people in certain directions, sometimes even commercial directions.

For now, anyone of us can just enjoy the simple pleasure of a few minutes of accepting an invitation from an old friend, possibly making a new friend, and communicating socially with people from the comfort of your computer desk.

If everything I knew and experienced about friendship in the past, before Facebook, can be called version 1.0, then it is clear to me that this new version 2.0 is a major, digitally-driven leap.

My vote goes to Friendship 1.0 plus 2.0 for a more complete and healthy relationship with friends old and new.


At 4:00 PM , Anonymous Linda said...

How beautiful!I'm glad that you are reunited with your friend.I haven't tried Facebook, but I'll definitely give it a try.It's amazing how internet has bridged the once impossible barriers!Have a nice day!

At 3:03 PM , Anonymous Robert said...

Great!Internet has actually broken all barriers and has brought the entire world into our living room. We can now connect with our friends like never before.
Facebook,Friendster,Orkut and others have simplified making friends in a way that is unique yet simple.


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