Keeping It Real On Social Networking

I un-friended 50 people today and it feels good.

I applauded Twitter’s decision in July of 2007 to change “friend” to “follow”. It took one more falsehood out of the pile of lies that is the Internet.

I had to look at my Twitter followers and who I was following. I did the same with Facebook. I saw quite a few spammers, posers, users, and those who were a combination of all three.

A pic of how easy it is to fake friendship
figure 1. It’s easy to fake friends.

There was one person, who shall remain nameless, that really used me and hurt me. This person has managed to “friend” the top people in the Web 2.0 industry and has made it appear like s/he was the friend of all these top people thanks to carefully placed comments and strategic friending on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Upcoming.

Imagine my embarrassment when I showed up at a function with this person and my real friends revealed that they didn’t know this person at all.

Anyway, one of my goals is to keep my Twitter and Facebook connections real and I won’t hastily add “friends” anytime soon.

It’s a sad thing that nobody reads Book 8 of Aristotle’s Ethics anymore.

Here are two quotes that serve as a commentary of our age of easy friending:

“Those who quickly show the marks of friendship to each other wish to be friends, but are not friends unless they both are lovable and know the fact; for a wish for friendship may arise quickly, but friendship does not.”

“Those who are friends for the sake of utility part when the advantage is at an end; for they were lovers not of each other but of profit.”

And what am I going to do about it?

I’m planning on making a social network where it’s actually difficult to friend people. The idea is that you can’t be someone’s friend unless you complete a task that shows your friendship for someone and have that verified.





Let me know if you want to work on this project.

4 replies on “Keeping It Real On Social Networking”

So far the network that was best at keeping friends list short (and hence more “real”) was dodgeball. on dodgeball the decision is very simple – do i want to get location spam from this person? do i want this person aware of my location at all times? on dodgeball you WANT to have a short list of friends because you DONT WANT to be spammed all day long. easy.

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’ve had coworkers and people I know out of the office get offended when I refer to them or others as “acquaintances”, a word that encompasses everyone except 4 people in my life. I am ok with adding “friends” on Twitter/Flickr/Facebook etc, because the point of those apps for me is to meet new people and learn more about those I don’t know much about. But I would love to be able to do something like have premade questions that only people who know me well would be able to answer (e.g., “what is Karen’s favorite food?” or “What is Karen’s sister’s name?”). Would love to contribute to your project in any way I can, with the caveat of my limited time 🙂

I see your point and that’s part of the reason why I don’t have a billion and one people on Twitter. I do have a sizeable number, but usually they are people I have actually met/know “in real life,” or plan to eventually meet (and these people know I exist, not just a blind follow). I think I never assume one person knows the other even if we are in the same sphere unless it is obvious in their online interactions (i.e. they @ each other or write on each other’s walls)

Though, basically, this is sort of the idea that a friend invites someone else and vouches that yes, this person is real and we know each other. I’m not sure people will be receptive to anything that makes it harder for them to join.

Hey Karen,

I’m definitely going to start work on this project soon. It should be easy to code since it strives not to be scale-able. 😀


PS to the other commenters: Thank you so much for reading my blog!

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